Using saltwater when cooking lobster maintains its characteristic taste, and is best way to cook it if you want that wonderful taste of the ocean. This is true whether you are boiling or steaming it. Of course not everyone lives on the coast, so adding a generous pinch of salt to a pot of water will also work. Steaming is great when you want to serve a whole lobster.
Although boiling is faster and allows the meat to slide out of the shell a bit easier, steaming is gentler and will get the meat really tender. It also keeps a bit more of the lobster flavor and it is harder to overcook the shellfish when steaming as opposed to boiling, so if you accidentally give it a few extra minutes it will not matter much.
Be careful when steaming because steam is very hot. It is a good idea to take the lid off the pot halfway through the cooking time to move the lobsters about a bit, but do not have your face over the pot when you lift the lid. Lean back a bit instead so the trapped hot steam from the pot can escape upwards. Steam is as hot as boiling water and you do not want to burn yourself.
- Live Maine lobsters
- Water, as needed
- Sea salt, as needed
- Melted butter, to serve (optional)
- Use your biggest pot for cooking the lobsters, so you do not crowd them.
- A 4 gallon pot is good for 6 lbs of lobster, for example.
- Use one lobster per person you wish to feed (as long as you have a big enough pot.)
- Add a couple inches of salted water in the bottom of the pot and put a steaming rack inside the pot.
- Bring the salted water to a rolling boil over a high heat.
- Add the live lobsters one at a time.
- Cover the pot and start the timer.
- Lift the lid halfway through the cooking time and shift the lobsters around a bit, for even cooking.
- To calculate the timing, use the weight of an individual lobster, not their combined weight.
- A 1 lb lobster will take 10 minutes, a 1¼ lb one will take 12 minutes, a 1½ lb one will take 14 minutes, and a 1¾ lb lobster will take 16 minutes.
- Give a 2 lbs lobster 18 minutes or a 2½ lbs lobster 22 minutes.
- A large 3 lbs one will need about 25 to 30 minutes, and a huge 5 lbs one will need about 45 minutes.
- These cooking times are approximate but usually work well.
- Cooked lobsters turn red but this does not guarantee doneness.
- When the recommended steaming time has elapsed, crack one open where the tail meets the carapace.
- If the meat has changed from translucent to white, the lobsters are done.
- Serve with melted butter, if liked.
Steaming is a gentle and natural way to cook Maine lobster, or any kind of lobster you want to eat. All you need to do is place the lobsters on a rack above boiling water and let the steam soften and cook the meat. Steamed lobster meat is more tender than boiled lobster meat and none of the flavor of the shellfish disappears into the water like it does when boiling your seafood. You can see from this photo how elegant and appealing a whole lobster looks. Serve this with melted butter for yummy results, as well as shell crackers and seafood forks for people to get the meat out.
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