First you need to steam the lobster whole. Once it’s cooked, remove it from the hot water and set it on a counter or workspace. Let it cool until you can handle the lobster without getting burned.
Start by grabbing the body of the lobster and wedge both claws facing down under the body. Push the body forward and the claws will both break loose.
Next grab the end of the claw and position a heavy-bodied French knife in your dominant hand. Give the claw a firm blow to drive the knife blade a quarter-inch in to the claw shell. The most critical part of this is to firmly hold the claw and use a sharp, solid knife. Give the claw a controlled, forceful blow to embed then simply turn the knife blade 90 degrees and it will give you a straight crack right across the claw.
Pull off the short end piece and then slide the lobster meat out. You may need to remove the cartilage and that’s it.
You can now split the claw in half and easily remove the claw meat. Check inside the main “palm” area of the claw to make sure the cartilage is removed. If not, then you will have to gently split the claw meat open to remove it.
Next, split the tail in half using the knife and remove the meat. Do the same and split the knuckles and remove that meat as well.
Your lobster is now ready for the next step… butter!
That’s how you break down a New England lobster with no hammers or smashing. After many years in the kitchen, I can bust these things out real fast. You just need to trust your knife-motor skills, and I believe most fishermen have that in their genes.
Stay tuned for a quick lesson in breaking down spiny lobster.
How to Clean a Lobster