When buying live lobster, don't worry about its mottled greenish-brown appearance. The deep red pigment in the shell, known as astaxanthin, will shine through as color-binding proteins break down during cooking. When choosing for a live lobster, look for live, active lobsters placed in seawater. Their tails should curl under when picked up. If stored on ice, they may be sluggish, but the tails should still curl under. Bacteria form quickly in dead lobsters, so make sure that lobsters are alive before you buy and cook them. One whole lobster (1 to 1.5 pounds) yields about a quarter pound of meat, which is enough for only 1 serving.
Live lobsters should be cooked as soon as possible. If necessary, they can be wrapped in wet cloth and refrigerated on a bed of ice for 1 day. And, if you couldn't get a live lobster and have to settled for frozen lobster tails, check that there are no signs of frost, or dry-looking portions of meat.
When preparing live lobster for cooking, some cooks find it more humane to kill a lobster before cooking it. To kill a lobster instantly, insert a large knife between its eyes. Usually a lobster's tail will curl when it is cooked and to avoid that from happening, you can insert a metal or bamboo skewer along one side of the tail, assuming the lobster has been killed before cooking. If the lobster is alive, strap a heat-safe chopstick to its tail and up to its torso.
If you have over-cooked a lobster, the meat will become tough. However, you can use some methods to divert guests' attention from all that chew. Just pull together a quick cream sauce and add to it. Alternatively, if you have the time and do not have a room full of guests anticipating the joys of eating lobster from the shell, remove the meat, shred it finely, and serve it in a salad, sandwich, or pasta dish. If combining it with cooked foods, add at the last minute to avoid further cooking.
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