Two popular ways to cook fresh lobsters is boiling and steaming. Charlie’s favorite way to cook lobsters is steaming. All you need is a good size pot, water, salt (preferably sea salt), unsalted butter, and the Maine ingredient-fresh lobsters.
Make sure you pick out a mad lobster. It’s easy to find one; it’s the lobster who will raise its claws and flap its tail. The mad, feisty lobster will be the freshest lobster! It’s best to cook lobsters the day your receive them. You can keep a good hard-shell lobster alive for a day or two in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually the bottom shell.
Why steam lobsters, rather than boil them? Charlie prefers steaming lobster because he says it makes less of a mess and cooks up a more tender lobster than boiling. Steaming lobster preserves the ocean fresh taste of lobster. Since steaming cooks lobster a little slower, there is less of a chance of overcooking. It’s a good choice if your cooking lobster for the first time. Cooking for a big group? You can find out how to boil lobsters here.
If you are just cooking a couple of lobsters, a 3-4 gallon soup or pasta pot will do the job. If you are cooking a bunch of lobsters you can get a larger pot or steam your lobsters in batches. Just make sure the lid goes on tight to keep in the steam. A steamer rack is not a necessity. It just keeps the lobsters from getting charred on the bottom of the pot. You can use an vegetable steamer rack inside the pot or an upside colander.
Now for the all-important cooking times. The first rule of cooking lobsters-do not overcook. Second rule-do not overcook your lobsters. For soft-shell lobsters you might want to subtract a minute or two from the cooking times.
Directions for Steamed Lobsters
To steam live lobster: Fill pot so that water comes up sides about two inches. Add 2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. If you have sea salt-even better. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and put in lobsters, one at a time. ( Feel free to use a steaming rack to place the lobsters on or just add directly to the pot.) Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Place lobsters in the pot (head first), cover tightly, return to a boil as quickly as possible and start counting the time.
Steam a lobster for 8 minutes per pound, for the first pound. Add 3 minutes per pound for each additional pound thereafter. See chart below for approximate cooking times. Regulate the heat if the froth starts to bubble over.
Steaming Lobster-Cooking Times
Lobster Weight: Cooking Time
1-1/4 lbs. 7-8 minutes
1-1/2 lb. 8-10 minutes
2 lbs. 11-12 minutes
2-1/2-3 lb. 12-14 minutes
5 lb. 20-22 minutes
Lobsters are done when the outer shell is bright red and when the meat is white, not opaque. Again, DO NOT overcook your lobsters. Carefully remove lobsters from the pot with tongs. Be careful, they are very hot. Note: Your lobsters will continue to cook a little after you take them out of the pot. To stop the cooking process, place your steamed lobsters in a bowl of ice before cracking. Now just melt the butter. You can get fancy and whisk in a little lemon juice in your butter. Now dig in!