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Is It Safe To Eat The Green Stuff In Lobster

Have you ever been curious about the green stuff in lobster? For some, that sticky, green paste is something to avoid, for others, it’s a delicacy. So what is it? And even more important what is? Read this before you have your next lobster roll.


What’s the Green Stuff in Lobster?

While marine biologists may refer to this green goo as hepatopancreas, in culinary circles you’ll most likely hear it referred to as tomalley (taa-ma-lee). It’s part of the lobster’s digestive system: it works a bit like a liver and pancreas combined and is located in the body cavity.

Tomalley is considered the tastiest part of the lobster. Its flavor is basically the same as that of a lobster, just amplified a little. Those who eat it will consume it with the rest of the lobster meat, or even reserve it to mix in soups and sauces.

tomalley which is taken from the lobster cavity
Boston Globe/Getty Images


Can you eat the green stuff in lobster?

This is where things get dicey. Although New Englanders may know tomalley as a delicacy to be enjoyed, its toxicity has been the subject of much debate. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to avoid eating tomalley from lobster caught in New England waters because it was found to have unusually high levels of toxins that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

Unlike the toxins found in lobster meat, which is safe to eat, all toxins found in the digestive tract are not water soluble, meaning they will not be eliminated when boiled. These unusually high levels of toxins were said to be caused by an algae bloom known as red tide.

That said, government organizations are expected to urge consumers to err on the side of caution. According to WebMD, lobster tomalley does not usually contain high levels of PSP toxins, and the FDA has not issued another warning since. If you plan to partake in tomalley, as many New Englanders do, be sure to do so in moderation.


Ways to use Tomalley

Aunt Anita's lobster stew
Pictured: Aunt Anita’s lobster stew.
Aja

If you’ve decided to try tomalley, there are several ways to do it. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: tomalley can be enjoyed alongside meat. But you may also want to reserve it and mix it into soups or stews, like Aunt Anita’s Lobster Stew. This recipe also uses lobster roe, or the tiny roe found along the tail of a female lobster: “The secret to rich flavor is using tomalley and roe. Once cooked they disappear into the stew giving it a wonderful flavor.” says reviewer LABSARE4ME.

You can also mix the tomalley with other ingredients like crushed crackers or bread crumbs like in this oven fresh lobster recipe and this stuffed lobster for two. And, of course, many Maine-style lobster rolls will call for tomalley.

Related:

  • 11 best lobster recipes for romantic dinners
  • How to cook lobster tail at home
  • Browse our entire collection of lobster recipes.


Have you ever been curious about the green stuff in lobster? For some, that sticky, green paste is something to avoid, for others, it’s a delicacy. So what is it? And even more important what is? Read this before you have your next lobster roll.


What’s the Green Stuff in Lobster?

While marine biologists may refer to this green goo as hepatopancreas, in culinary circles you’ll most likely hear it referred to as tomalley (taa-ma-lee). It’s part of the lobster’s digestive system: it works a bit like a liver and pancreas combined and is located in the body cavity.

Tomalley is considered the tastiest part of the lobster. Its flavor is basically the same as that of a lobster, just amplified a little. Those who eat it will consume it with the rest of the lobster meat, or even reserve it to mix in soups and sauces.

tomalley which is taken from the lobster cavity
Boston Globe/Getty Images


Can you eat the green stuff in lobster?

This is where things get dicey. Although New Englanders may know tomalley as a delicacy to be enjoyed, its toxicity has been the subject of much debate. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to avoid eating tomalley from lobster caught in New England waters because it was found to have unusually high levels of toxins that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

Unlike the toxins found in lobster meat, which is safe to eat, all toxins found in the digestive tract are not water soluble, meaning they will not be eliminated when boiled. These unusually high levels of toxins were said to be caused by an algae bloom known as red tide.

That said, government organizations are expected to urge consumers to err on the side of caution. According to WebMD, lobster tomalley does not usually contain high levels of PSP toxins, and the FDA has not issued another warning since. If you plan to partake in tomalley, as many New Englanders do, be sure to do so in moderation.


Ways to use Tomalley

Aunt Anita's lobster stew
Pictured: Aunt Anita’s lobster stew.
Aja

If you’ve decided to try tomalley, there are several ways to do it. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: tomalley can be enjoyed alongside meat. But you may also want to reserve it and mix it into soups or stews, like Aunt Anita’s Lobster Stew. This recipe also uses lobster roe, or the tiny roe found along the tail of a female lobster: “The secret to rich flavor is using tomalley and roe. Once cooked they disappear into the stew giving it a wonderful flavor.” says reviewer LABSARE4ME.

You can also mix the tomalley with other ingredients like crushed crackers or bread crumbs like in this oven fresh lobster recipe and this stuffed lobster for two. And, of course, many Maine-style lobster rolls will call for tomalley.

Related:

  • 11 best lobster recipes for romantic dinners
  • How to cook lobster tail at home
  • Browse our entire collection of lobster recipes.


Video about Is It Safe To Eat The Green Stuff In Lobster

Eating Tomalley: We tried the green gooey stuff in lobster so you don't have to

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