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How to Cut Open a Lobster Tail the Right Way

Lobster Tails

Did you know that in Colonial times lobster was considered poor man's chicken, and was often fed to pigs and goats?

Clearly, a lot has changed since then. Now, lobsters are a decadent dish, usually commanding a high price in restaurants. 

Even with lobster prices at a record low, you can still expect to pay a pretty penny for the "champagne of proteins" when dining out. 

However, eating lobster at a restaurant isn't your only option if you know how to prepare them yourself. And part of that is learning how to how to cut open a lobster tail. Once you have got that down, the rest is relatively easy. 

Not only is cooking your own lobster easy and cost-effective, but it can also be a great dish for impressing guests or jazzing up a relaxed evening at home. 

Ready to learn how to how to cut open a lobster tail the right way? Heads up, there isn't one right way, there are five! Keep reading to master the five main lobster tail cuts. 

The Basics of How to Cut Open a Lobster Tail

If you are planning on boiling or steaming lobsters, you won't need to worry about any tail cutting. However, if you are planning on roasting, grilling, or broiling lobster tails, you will generally want to slice them open

Opening up lobster tails ensures that the meat cooks evenly, and helps to avoid tough or dry areas developing. It's also great for adding in sauces and seasonings. 

If you're wondering how to cut lobster tails and with what implement, the first thing you'll need to get hold of is a good pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef's knife.

If you are dealing with frozen lobster tails, the next step is to defrost them completely (do not microwave or defrost in hot water).

How to Butterfly a Lobster Tail

One of the most common ways to slice a lobster tail is by butterflying. 

To butterfly a lobster tail you'll need to start with a defrosted lobster and lay it belly down. Take your kitchen shears or chef's knife and cut along the top of the shell, starting at the big end and going towards where it meets the tail fan.

Be sure to leave the tail fan and the bottom shell uncut. 

Next, ease the shell open, insert your fingers, and gently pry the lobster flesh away from the upper shell. Once it is loose, work the lobster up and slightly out of its shell. 

Once you have done this the shell will clamp slightly closed. The result will look like fluffy wings sprouting from the shell. 

Lastly, feel around at the thicker end of the lobster for the middle "vein". Once you've found the vein, pull it out. This is known as "de-veining a lobster."

This vein is actually the digestive tract. While it is harmless to eat, it doesn't taste wonderful, so try to remove it if you can. 

Now that you know how to butterfly a lobster tail, let's move on to the next cut. 

How to Fan Cut a Lobster Tail

Fan cutting a lobster is relatively simple. The idea is to remove the entire undershell so that the lobster meat cooks in a boat made up of the upper part of the shell.

To fan cut a lobster tail, start by laying it on its back. With a pair of kitchen shears cut along the sides of the flexible undershell where it connects to the harder upper shell. Cut from the thick end down to the tail fan.

Then, pull up the undershell and snip it free where it connects to the tail fan. Leave the tail fan in place, and then loosen the meat from the upper shell with your fingers and remove the vein. 

And voilà! You are ready to cook your lobster.

How to Split a Lobster Tail

If you're wondering how to cook lobster tails, another popular method is splitting and grilling them. 

To split a lobster tail simply lay it on its back on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut evenly down the middle of the lobster tails. Aim to create two even halves. 

Once you have separated the two halves you're ready to season and cook them. 

How to Piggyback a Lobster Tail

Now you how to cut open a lobster tail so the lobster cooks in the shell, but we are about to raise the bar and show you the piggyback method.

Piggybacking a lobster involves cutting the shell so you can raise the meat out and up from the shell, bringing it to rest on the back of the shell. From here you can grill, roast, or bake your lobster tails to perfection. 

Start by making a long cut down the top of the shells of your lobster tails. Carefully open up the halves of the tail and gently loosen the meat from the bottom shell with your fingers. Make sure that you do not damage the meat’s connection to the tail fan.

Once the meat is loose, raise it up and out of the shell. Lay it down to rest on top of the shell and allow the halves to pinch close again. 

Cutting Lobster Tail Rounds

Sometimes you might want to cut lobster tails into rounds. This can be ideal for panfrying, sautéing, or even grilling. 

Lay your lobster tail down, and curl it so that the filmy membrane beneath the shell plates becomes visible. Insert a sharp-pointed knife into these sections, press down, and cut fully through the tail. 

You will be left with round sections of the tail. From here you can either keep the shell on or pop out the rounds with your fingers. 

Now You Know How to Cut Open a Lobster Tail in Five Different Ways

If you want to prepare your own lobster, it's important that you know how to cut open a lobster tail. Now that you've read our guide you not only know how to cut a lobster tail, but you also know five different ways of doing it!

Ready to wow your guests or better half with a superbly prepared dish of lobster tail? Butterflied, split, piggybacked, cut into rounds, or fan cut, the choice is yours. 

All you need to do now is get hold of some high-quality lobster. Fortunately, you don't need to look far, because here at Order Maine Lobster—shipping fresh, succulent lobster tails is what we do. 

Shop our online seafood store now to bag the best lobster straight from Maine.

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pam boltz

SO helpful! Thank You.. Ilke my lobster ready to cook. I learned alot from you site and will look into ordering from you folks in the year to come.