How to Steam Lobster (and How to Eat Lobster!)
This video also demonstrates how to shell and eat lobster. Not for the squeamish! 🙂
Laurel made me do it.
Then I made her do it.
Then we ate our victims. Chris helped and we all guzzled champagne. How sick is that?!?
Well, I hope you don’t think it’s too sick. It was really tasty lobster and you know what they say about breaking eggs and making lobster omelets and killing God’s creatures and birds in the bush, right? Yeah, I never understood that one either.
The good news is that your conscience is likely the trickiest hurdle to steaming a live lobster. Once you get past that one, the rest is gravy, or lemon-butter as the case may be.
How to pick out a lobster
- Lobsters are harder shelled in the winter months than the summer, so they are harder to crack, but winter lobsters have more meat on em, too, so there’s a pro and a con either way you slice it.
- To feed one person, you’ll need at least a 1.5 pound lobster, 2 to be safe. As Laurel pointed out, in Maine they’ll often steam mussels and clams alongside the lobsters to fill out the meal. And don’t forget the boiled potatoes and corn on the cob! (Unless you’re on a date, and then you’ll probably want to skip the corn.)
- Get a feisty one. Don’t let that old lady at the fish counter try to sell you a lazy lobster.
- They’re all wild-caught, mostly off the coast of Maine where they have strict regulations to prevent over-fishing (or over-lostering). No such thing as a farmed lobster. FYI.
- Store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours if you must before cooking.
How to Steam Lobster
The preferred method for cooking a live lobster
- Lobsters – one per person, all approximately the same size
- Seaweed (optional, if you can find some)
- For dipping: melted butter and lemon juice
- In a large pot (4-5 gallon) put one inch of water and 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Bring to boil over high heat.
- Use tongs to grab the lobsters firmly and without squeamishness (do as I say, not as I do) and put them in the pot as gently as you can manage. Throw the seaweed on top if you have it.
- Put the lid on the pot and set the timer (see chart below for times).
- When the timer dings, turn off the heat and remove them from the pot to cool on a bed of newspaper (aka a Maine tablecloth)
- Cool 5 minutes.
- Shell and eat as shown in the video – start with the legs, then the claws, then the tail. Whether or not you eat the tomalley is up to you!
- If you like, dip pieces of lobster meat into melted butter mixed with lemon juice – about equal parts of each.
- Quick notes
- Cooking times: Start the timer as soon as you put the lid back on
- -1.25 pound lobster = 10-12 minutes
- -2 pound lobster – 12-18 minutes
- -3 pound lobster = 18-25 minutes
- *Note that cooking times are not cumulative. That is, cooking two 2 pound lobsters should take just about the same amount of time as cooking one 2 pounder. For our two 1.40 pound lobsters, we set the timer for 14 minutes.
- Lobsters are done when the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F, or when a leg can easily be pulled off. The only thing worse than overcooked lobster is undercooked lobster!
Cooking times: Start the timer as soon as you put the lid back on
1-1.25 pound lobster = 10-12 minutes
1.25-2 pound lobster – 12-18 minutes
2-3 pound lobster = 18-25 minutes
*Note that cooking times are not cumulative. That is, cooking two 2 pound lobsters should take just about the same amount of time as cooking one 2 pounder. For our two 1.40 pound lobsters, we set the timer for 14 minutes.
Like they do in Maine, you might also want to steam some mussels and clams alongside the lobster, and serve with boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, and French bread!