Should you boil or steam lobsters? It depends. Charlie prefers to boil lobsters if he has to cook a bunch of lobsters at a time. Second, boiling lobsters cooks them more evenly and quicker than steaming. But watch out and keep an eye on your cooking times to make sure you do not overcook your lobsters. Finally, boiling lobsters makes it easier to remove the meat out of the shell. The high, intense heat of boiling cooks the meat quickly, causing it to pull away from the shell. If you are just cooking a few lobsters (1-4) see the advantages of steaming lobsters.
How to boil lobsters
Fill a pot (large enough to hold the lobsters) anywhere from one-half to two-thirds full with water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. (If sea water is available, even better. Skip the salt.) Bring the water to a strong boil over high heat.
Place the live lobsters in one at a time, headfirst, completely submerging them. Pick up the lobster by holding the upper side of the thorax between your thumb and middle finger. Hold the underside of the body away from you, because the lobster have a tendency to flip the jointed tail, splattering water. You can cook more than one lobster in a pot as long as there is enough room and water to cover the lobsters. (If you do not have a big enough pot use two smaller pots or cook your lobsters in batches.) Cover the pot tightly and return to a boil as quickly as possible.
After the water boils start timing, and regulate the heat to prevent water from boiling over (but be sure the water continues to boil). Melt some butter while you wait.
Cooking Times for Lobsters
1 lb. Lobster… 4-5 minutes
1 1/4 lb. lobster… 6-7 minutes
1 1/2 lb. lobster… 7-9 minutes
2 lb. lobster… 10-12 minutes
3 lb. lobster… 12-13 minutes
5-6 lb. lobster… 18-20 minutes
How to Tell if My Lobsters are Cooked?
Lobster is cooked when the shell is entirely red. When properly cooked, lobster meat is a creamy white color all the way through–no translucent areas. Some chefs say when the antennae pull out easily, lobsters are done, but this is not always the case. It is important to note when you take your lobsters out of the pot they will continue to cook. To stop the cooking process, put your lobsters in a bowl of ice.
If you overcook them, your going to be eating tough lobster. If you under-cook your lobster you can always heat them up. The reason many people believe larger lobsters are tough is simply because they overcook them. Many people will mistakenly boil a two and half pound lobster twice as long as a quarter pound lobster. Another common mistake is adding to the cooking time just because you are cooking more than 1-2 lobsters in the pot. Just remember to bring your pot back to a rolling boil and regulate the heat. Happy cracking!