I’ll set the scene of a recent seafood boil I attended: There were people dotting a Brooklyn backyard, standing around in lazy summer linens, beers in hand—chatting, laughing. I should mention, by the way, that this was a video shoot, and we were ordered to wear our best lazy summer linens. Did I catch you before you rolled your eyes?
Back to the scene: There were s’mores, and potato salads, and lobsters standing on their heads.
Yes, lobsters on their heads. I had taken the little guys to prep them for cooking; we were doing what I like to call lobster yoga.
I wrote about this back in 2013 as part of a larger post on how to cook lobsters, and it’s a tip I learned from my Mainer mother. (This trick, I inherited; pronouncing it “lobstah yoger,” I did not.) And, in a world where no one can agree on the most humane way to cook a lobster, as I say in the post, this feels like the calmest, adding some zen to an otherwise distinctly not zen process. You could use the knife method, you could put it in the freezer before cooking, or you could center the thing with a little deep breathing. Om:
They call it hypnotizing the lobster, or putting it to sleep. What it is, in reality, is a little head rush, but the effect is a bit magical—stand your lobsters on their heads, supported by their claws, and they'll calm down almost immediately. My mother would tell you that stroking the tail is key. My grandmother would too.
I’ll admit three years later that the stroking the tale thing is total lore—but do it if it makes you feel calmer, too. Here’s what you do: Flip the lobster gently on its head, tucking its claws gently underneath where its chin would be if it had one. Then tuck down its tail; as I said in that post, this isn’t unlike pulling your own knees into child’s pose.
After a ten or so seconds—it will need your help being stabilized in this time—the lobster should calm down significantly, usually enough to headstand on its own. Now get back to your seafood boil, won’t you?
How do you cook your lobsters? What’s your method? Tell us in the comments.