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Contemplating a meal of tomalley from lobsters?

Gifted Gourmet

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from Slate

Are there really people who order three or four lobsters and eat the tomalley—enough to warrant a health advisory? How can I meet them?Even if lobsters swim in water heavily contaminated with red tide organisms, their meat is not affected and may be safely eaten. However, the tomalley may take up some of the PSP toxin, and that is the basis for Health Canada's warning. The toxin is heat stable, so it isn't destroyed by the heat of cooking,
Do you enjoy consuming the lobster tomalley?

Is it based upon the actual taste or the texture? :rolleyes:

What is the most enticing thing about tomalleys? :huh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Yes Yes Yes. The tommally has a rich briny texture that is delicious. If you have ever sucked the head of the crawfish - you know what I mean.

Actually I wonder if this warning applies to crawfish, shrimp, or other crustaceans? Especailly the tommally from Dungeness crab - which is really delicous stirred into hot fried rice.

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Lobster livers, or “tomalley,” which some people consider a “delicacy,” are especially dangerous. The high doses of toxins concentrated in the livers can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. Symptoms range from numbness in the lips to dizziness ... 
from Lobster Liberation :huh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Oh, I got so excited when I read this post.. I thought someone was posting a question on suggestions? What a great idea, I would love to see like a tomalley ravioli in a lobster sauce, or a white fish ravioli in a Creamy Tomalley Sauce... Or like baked clams or lobsters stuffed with Tomalley,or in a gratin.. mmm.. What did this article say, it was bad for you or something? :biggrin:

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Funny, I've seen it spelled "tamale", too. That should be filed under menu misspellings...

It's a lobster liver so imagine all the crap it's filtered and someone wants to eat it?

You may have my portion.

But then I don't go near foie gras, paté, kidneys, hearts, offal, etc, either.

Call me a culinary weenie. I prefer not to eat body filters.


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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

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Tim Oliver

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I remember both tests, surveys and inspections done by the NYC Health Department during "Red Tide" scares regarding the safety of "Lobster Tomalley" in Live Lobster being sold via retailers or suppliers.

They all were considered safe with little or no "PHP" levels due to being then supplied only from wild stocks trapped from deep off shore waters. (some are trapped in the NY/Hudson Ocean Canyon). Most come from Maine or Canadian Provinces.

The Reef Lobsters available in small amounts in the Pacific Oceans and warm waters in the Atlantic may be vulnerable. Also I know on no information about Farmed Lobsters.

What benefits Lobster eaters is, generally prices drop lower during Red Tide scare periods as many consumers avoid all shellfish.

Red Tides are often showing contamination is very specific areas. Consumers are protected by the fact that all shellfish must be tagged guaranteeing the locations where and when harvested. If you have any hesitation you may ask to check the tags for assurance.

As a example if there is a Red Tide in New Jersey and the Oysters are tagged from Hudson Bay in Canada you can be assured they are safe to enjoy.


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Like anything else, it is fine in moderation. As Irwin says, don't eat it if it comes from a red tide are, but then one is not likely to anyway. It is always a good idea to know the origens of one's food if one can.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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Caught me!.

I profess to love eating the liver. Yeah, I know it's gross, yeah I am sure it probably is not very good for me but I don't smoke, don't do drugs and only drink in moderation. You have to live dangeriously somehow and this is as good a way as any.

The only time I did not eat the liver- or the rest of the lobster was the one I opened to find instead of ther normal lobstery delights a pitch black goopy liver (I guess). I never did find out what that was (if anyone knows please enlighten me) and it may have been perfectly fine, but it DID NOT look good and I just could not bring myself to eat it. For the record the store I bought it from said they had never seen that before and gave me a refund so it was not a complete wash. That actually kept me off lobsters for about a year.

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This article (PCRM website) referred to by the "lobster liberators" stated a couple things worth noting. (edit to apologize for not realizing how deep into cross-referenced sites I eventually went on this topic)

First, on the credit side, they wrote that the data used was anywhere from 28yrs to 5yrs old, which has to be considered from a consumer's point of view. But is it worse, or better now, or have conditions stayed the same? I'm sorry: the evidence has expired.

Second, on the credit side, they wrote that the samples of mercury-affected seafood was taken from a broad range of locations - some better, some worse. But the paper simply can't claim such generalizations on a species without taking the time/effort to distinguish among the effect peculiar to each part of the planet. I'd worry more about fish caught off china since their industrial expansion than mussels from PEI.

Third, on the debit side, they assumed that pollution is worse than it was 20yrs ago - Is it really? Okay, where? I keep reading about people crabbing again off JFK airport and harvestable clams appearing near Boston harbor. Last I heard, great strides have occured in water quality lately. There aren't any more paper mills in Maine, and the gulf of maine have such tidal action, it's like a thousand-mile-round toilet bowl that flushes twice a day! Granted, other parts of the world's waterfronts are hardly pristine, but once again arena-wide generalizations are just lazy.

I hate these academic papers with supposedly "solid" authority that the masses take as gospel. :angry:

For the record, my 86yr old mom insists on getting everybody's tomalley when we eat lobster. Something about respecting your elders... :hmmm::biggrin:

Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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