Lobster Stock

March 11th, 2009

Lobster Consomme from Sugarlaws

You know your priorities are a little out of wack when you get really excited to buy two fresh lobsters… just to make stock out of their shells.

An article in the New York Times a few months ago discussed the falling prices of lobsters, but noted that home cooks were often terrified of boiling the lobsters alive to cook them.

I was a vegetarian for 13 years.  Boiling a living creature is just not going to happen in my kitchen, not now, not ever.

But I’m also a bit of a hypocrite, because I love lobster.  So, if you take our recently lowered prices and add on a few dollars to receive a cooked, whole lobster from your local fishmonger, you’ve got a serious dinner on your hands.

Unfortunately, though, buying precooked lobsters isn’t much to brag about on a food blog.  So with our leftover shells, claws and lobster bodies, I made lobster stock.

Because lobsters are so low in fat, lobster stock is surprisingly easy to get right.  It requires very little skimming to get a beautiful, clear stock, and just some thorough straining at the end.  And you wind up with this beautiful base for soups and stews that would cost nearly as much as the lobsters themselves if you bought it in a store.

(And if you do insist on cooking them yourself, the New York Times suggests putting them in your freezer for 15 minutes, and then slicing them down the middle.)

Lobster Consomme from Sugarlaws

Lobster Stock

2 whole lobster shells, meat removed
1 medium-sized carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
10 cups water, or more as needed

Heat all ingredients in a stock pot on low heat, keeping the mixture at a simmer.  Allow to cook for 60-90 minutes, or until the water is colored and fragrant.  Strain thoroughly (I strained mine about 8 times), and then return the stock to the pot to reduce.  When the stock is reduced to 4 cups or less, cool and refrigerate or freeze. 

Lobster Consomme from Sugarlaws

Tags: food · soups

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Erin // Mar 11, 2009 at 7:12 am

    You wrote: (And if you do insist on cooking them yourself, the New York Times suggests putting them in your freezer for 15 minutes, and then slicing them down the middle.)

    Can you go into more detail on why the NY Times says so?  I’ve never heard of this, and I worked in a seafood restaurant for years and my husband is a chef.  We have cooked our own lobsters many times and have never done this – we have only sliced them down the middle if we are stuffing and baking them.

  • 2 KT // Mar 11, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I’m so glad I found this!  I always make my own chicken and beef stock, but I’ve been afraid to try lobster stock (I really really want to try making lobster bisque).  My fear is that the house would smell for weeks… well, what was it like?!  Any tips on how to keep your house from smelling like a fish shack?  Or was it not even a problem?

    Thanks in advance!

  • 3 Mara @ What's For Dinner? // Mar 11, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I absolutely love lobster stock!! I’m going to try to make this just to make some cioppino. I’m sure that my fiance wouldn’t object to me bringing home 2 lobsters either!

  • 4 Kim // Mar 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Before I converted to Judaism I use to love making lobster stock. You are so right It’s so simple to do and I would use it as a base for my fish stock.  I just did my yearly drama of demi-glaze which hijacked my kitchen for three days. I wish I knew the trick of putting the lobster in the freezer. If your gonna kill them they might as well be asleep.

  • 5 Katy // Mar 11, 2009 at 5:40 pm


    It’s supposed to make the meat more tender and less rubbery if they’re already dead when you boil them!

    Here’s the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/dining/10appe.html

    KT — It definitely smelled while it was simmering, but I left the fan on and it definitely went away quickly!

  • 6 stephchows // Mar 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I can totally understand where you are coming from. I love the stuff but can’t bring myself to actually kill something… just can’t do it! I wish I had a place like that near me though so I could enjoy it more often 🙂

  • 7 Elyse // Mar 12, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I hear you.  The “boiling” of the live lobster can be quite traumatic.  I think it’s much nicer to boil the shells and get this fabulous stock!

  • 8 Ryan // Mar 14, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Erin – luckily there is a Mainer reading this blog, and I can tell you anything you would ever need to know about lobsters!  Slicing them allows them to cook faster, when seafood restauarants are running behind on orders they will start slicing the lobsters down the middle to catch up.  But only on lobsters a pound and a half or less.  Any larger and they won’t cook evenly (raw claws and tail), and it becomes very messy.

  • 9 katie // Mar 14, 2009 at 5:55 am

    We recently cooked live lobsters at home for the first and last time.  They just weren’t as yummy as when we were blissfully ignorant.

  • 10 Nirvana // Mar 15, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Oh my goodness I completely agree — I could NEVER boil a live lobster myself — that idea totally freaks me out… I’d probably buy some and then feel guilty and keep them as a pet or something 🙂

  • 11 jin // Mar 30, 2009 at 4:58 am

    poach some lobster tails with the stock…season stock with salt and pepper…reserved lobster tails..clarify stock with egg whites… garnish with cooked tails and cilantro…. u got yourself an awesome consomme!

  • 12 NikkitheFoodie // Apr 21, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Great image of the Lobster Stock. I work for Lobster Gram and have cooked live lobsters more times than I care to remember. In all honesty, I don’t understand how subjecting a lobster to sub zero temperatures then stabbing it in the back is any more humane than killing it in an instant by sticking it’s head in boiling water. I think instant death would be easier than the coma and slicing.

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  • 16 Pam // May 31, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    As a “Maina” and a part time lobsterwoman, I have harvested and prepared lobster for many years. If you feel a little squeamish about placing the live lobster in the pot, here is a trick. Hold lobster from their back shell, flip over and with your index finger rub between the legs..sounds sensual but it will put the lobster to sleep.

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