How to Steam a Lobster
How to Steam Lobster
Steaming and boiling are the best ways to cook live lobster. Many seafood lovers prefer steaming over boiling because steaming makes for more tender meat, preserves the delicate flavor better, and makes the lobster harder to overcook. Overcooked lobster becomes rubbery and loses some of its flavor, so you want to avoid this. Most people like serving steamed lobster with basic melted butter, but there are also a number of more complex dishes that require lobster meat.
1 fresh lobster, 1 to 1½ pounds (0.45 to 0.68 kg)
1 tablespoon (17 g) salt
Lemon Herb Butter
¼ cup (57.5 g) butter
½ teaspoon (1.5 ml) fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon (1.25 g) fresh parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon (1.25 g) fresh chives, chopped
½ teaspoon (1.25 g) basil, chopped
Steaming the Lobster
Gather your supplies.To steam a lobster, you will need tongs, a plate, fresh water, a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, and a steaming rack. If you don’t have a steaming rack, use a metal cooling rack or an upside down colander.
- To cook more or larger lobsters, you may have to adjust the cooking time, and you may need a larger pot, more water, and an extra tablespoon of salt.
- You'll need enough fresh water to fill the bottom of the pot, so the size and shape of the pot will determine the amount of water.
- To cook up to eight pounds (3.6 kg) of lobster at once, use a five-gallon (19 L) pot.
Get the pot ready.Place the steaming rack in the bottom of the pot and fill the bottom with two inches (5 cm) of water. Add the salt to the water. There are a number of salts you can use for this, including:
- Sea salt
- Kosher salt
- Table Salt
Heat the water and prepare the lobster.Place the pot onto the largest element you have, put on the lid, and heat it over high heat. As the water comes to a boil, prepare the lobster:
- Rinse the lobster under cold, running water and place it on a plate, tray, or other flat surface until the water boils.
- When the water boils, grab the lobster where the head meets the body.Hold the lobster down and carefully remove the rubber bands on the claws by slipping them off or cutting them with scissors. Watch your hands, or you might get pinched.
- You can leave the bands on during the cooking process if you're worried about getting pinched. The bands may transfer a bit of a rubbery taste to the claw meat.
Cook the lobster.Immediately after removing the bands, remove the lid from the pot and use your hands or tongs to plunge the lobster head-first into the boiling water. If you're cooking more than one, place them in the pot one at a time. Return the lid and bring the water back to a boil.
- Avoid crowding the pot if you're cooking more than one lobster. If you can't see the bottom of the pot or can't get the lid on properly, you either need a second pot, a larger pot, or you have to cook the lobsters in two batches.
Start the timer.As soon as the lobster goes into the water, start your cooking timer or make a note of the time, because the cooking time is based on when the lobster goes into the pot, not when the water returns to a boil.Cooking times for steamed lobsters are:
- 10 minutes for one pound
- 12 minutes for 1¼ pounds
- 14 minutes for 1½ pounds
- 16 minutes for 1¾ pounds
- 18 minutes for two pounds
- 22 minutes for 2½ pounds
- 20 to 25 minutes for three pounds
- 40 to 45 minutes for five pounds
- 50 to 60 minutes for six to seven pound
Shift the lobster around at the halfway point.Halfway through the steaming time, take the lid off the pot. Use the tongs to rearrange the lobster in the pot to ensure even cooking.
- Return the lid when you're finished and allow the lobster to continue cooking.
- When you remove the lid, open it away from you first so the steam escapes on the other side and doesn’t burn you.
Remove the lobsters when they're cooked.Take the pot off the heat, remove the lid, and use the tongs to remove the lobster from the pot. If you're cooking more than one lobster, remove them one at a time. Place the lobster on a baking sheet until it’s cool enough to touch.
- To stop the cooking process immediately and speed up the cooling, quickly dunk the lobster in and out of a pot of ice water before placing it on the baking sheet.
- You can tell that lobster is done when the shell goes bright red, the meat goes white, and an antenna comes out with no resistance when it’s pulled.
Removing the Meat
Gather your equipment.To get at the meat inside the lobster, you have to crack and remove the shell that’s protecting it. For this, you will need:
- A sharp knife
- A small towel
Remove the meat from the tail.Remove the tail from the body by gently twisting and pulling the tail away from the body. Lay the tail right side up on a cutting board. Insert the point of the knife into the center of the tail and cut the tail in half, lengthwise, toward the tail fins.
- Turn the tail around and make a second lengthwise cut to finish slicing the tail in half. Use your fingers to gently remove the meat from inside the shell halves.
Crack the claws to remove the meat.Remove the claws from the body by gently twisting and pulling the claws and knuckles away from the body. Use the scissors to separate the claws from the knuckles. Set the knuckles aside.
- Remove the smaller pincer from the claw by bending it back and forth with your fingers until the shell cracks off. The meat should stay behind, still attached to the larger claw.
- Wrap the claw in a towel and hit it with the butt of a knife to crack open the shell. Hit it once or twice on each side. Unwrap the towel and peel the cracked shell away from the meat.
Get the meat out of the knuckles.Use the scissors or a knife to cut open the side of the knuckle shell. You can then pry open the shell and remove the meat from the inside.
- If you have seafood crackers, you can use them instead of a knife or scissors to crack the shell on the claws, knuckles, and legs.
Cut the meat out of the legs.Pull or cut the legs off the body. Use scissors to cut open the side of the shell. Pry open the shell and remove the meat from inside.
- When you have finished removing the meat from all these parts, throw out what remains, including all the shells, the head, and the torso.
Plate and serve.Place the lobster on a plate and serve with the lemon herb butter and a wedge of fresh lemon.
- You can also use the lobster meat in other dishes, such as lobster pastas, bisque, or salads.
Making the Lemon Herb Butter
Melt the butter.In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium–low heat. To make a larger batch of butter to serve more people, multiply the ratios by four. The ingredients you need from the lemon herb butter are:
- 1 cup (230 g) butter
- 2 teaspoons (12 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) each of parsley, chives, and basil
Add the herbs.When the butter is melted, add the lemon juice and herbs. Use a small spoon to sample the butter, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
- For a spicy treat, add ¼ teaspoon (1.25 g) of ground cayenne pepper to the butter as well.
Serve with lobster.Transfer the butter to a heat-proof dish and serve with the lobster.
Video: How To Steam & Eat A Live Lobster
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