By Fannie Merritt Farmer (Boston, 1896)

To Select a Lobster.

Take in the hand, and if heavy in proportion to its size, the lobster is fresh. Straighten the tail, and if it springs into place the lobster was alive (as it should have been) when put into the pot for boiling. There is greater shrinkage in lobsters than in any other fish.

To Open Lobsters.

Take off large claws, small claws, and separate tail from body. Tail meat may sometimes be drawn out whole with a fork; more often it is necessary to cut the thin shell portion (using scissors or a can-opener) in under part of the tail, then the tail meat may always be removed whole.  Separate tail meat through centre, and remove the small intestinal vein which runs its entire length; although generally darker than the meat, it is sometimes found of the same color.   Hold body shell firmly in left hand, and with first two fingers and thumb of right hand draw out the body, leaving in shell the stomach (known as the lady), which is not edible, and also some of the green part, the liver. The liver may be removed by shaking the shell. The sides of the body are covered with the lungs; these are always discarded.  Break body through the middle and separate body bones, picking out meat that lies between them, which is some of the sweetest and tenderest to be found. Separate large claws at joints. If shells are thin, with a knife cut off a strip down the sharp edge, so that shell may be broken apart and meat removed whole. Where shell is thick, it must be broken with a mallet or hammer. Small claws are used for garnishing. The shell of body, tail, and lower part of large claws, if not broken, may be washed, dried, and used for serving of lobster meat after it has been prepared. The portions of lobsters which are not edible are lungs, stomach (lady), and intestinal vein.


Crabs among Crustaceans are next in importance to lobsters, commercially speaking. They are about two and one-half inches long by five inches wide, and are found along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Florida, and in the Gulf of Mexico. Crabs, like lobsters, change their shells. Soft-shell crabs are those which have recently shed their old shells, and the new shells have not had time to harden; these are considered by many a great luxury. Oyster crabs (very small crabs found in shells with oysters), are a delicacy not often indulged in. Crabs are in season during the spring and summer.


To Clean a Fish.

To Skin a Fish.

To Bone a Fish.

To Fillet Fish.

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Classic Seafood Recipes & Fish Recipes

How to choose, clean, skin, bone, fillet and cook fish and other seafood

 Eliza Acton
 Catharine Beecher
 Eliza Leslie
 Mrs. D. A. Lincoln
 Fannie Farmer
 The Settlement



3 Young Chefs

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