I have eaten lobster many times before when I've come to the green substance in the cavity and been grossed out. My impression has been that it was non-eliminated fecal matter and similar substances that I had no desire to put in my mouth. Then recently I saw Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods call the green matter "tomalley" and he indicated it was very good. I have also heard him talk about lobster roe, or lobster eggs, and how good they are. Well, the other day I was at King's Fish House in Rancho Cucamonga and got the New England Clam Bake which included a 1 1/4 pound Maine lobster.
As I've indicated before, I find that most places over-cook lobster, so I asked the waitress for it to be cooked just beyond the translucent stage. I ended up with an interesting treat. I found a good deal of tomalley
and with Andrew Zimmern speaking in my head I launched into it with gusto (the tomalley is in the carapace hidden under the thin flap of "skin" - see below).
It actually is very good. It is runny, sweet and salty. Tomalley, from the Carib word "tumale," means a sauce of lobster liver. It is a liquidy green substance found in the lobster carapace that fulfills the function of both the liver and the pancreas, filtering out toxins. It can contain PCBs which are bad for you in large concentrations, but consumed in small levels, according to Health Canada guidelines, no more than one lobster per day (I wish), should not hurt you. Then I found an extra bonus. As I consumed the tomalley closer to the tail I found it full of a black substance.
Even farther back toward the tail I found a red substance (see the red substance inside and just underneath the top portion of the lobster tail shell).
I assumed, and later confirmed, it was lobster roe or lobster eggs. The lobster roe is naturally black and when cooked it turns red and is called coral (toward the bottom of the picture, the roe has turned red on the far ends and is still black in the center).
Because I had asked the restaurant not to cook my lobster too long, the most outside roe had turned red and the inner roe, the majority of it, was still black.
The lobster roe is also liquidy, salty and sweet, full of lobstery taste, and paired well with the tomalley, but it was not for the faint of heart. It was quite a conglomeration of green, black and red that would have absolutely turned me green in my pre-Andrew Zimmern days (I saw one site online that said 90% of the customers at a seafood restaurant in coastal Canada did not eat the lobster tomalley). The coral, or red roe, was more rubbery and not as good as the black roe. I ate it all and enjoyed the tomalley and roe as much or more than the actual lobster tail
which were also good. The last several restaurant lobsters I've eaten have all gone to the cooks with the same instruction to cook them just beyond translucence. It has made all the difference - I find I actually love lobster, where before, with overcooked lobster, I could take it or leave it. I also need to note that Maine lobster is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die.