Steaming, rather than boiling, is my favourite of cooking lobsters. Steaming produces a more tender and flavourful meat, as it preserves the fresh ocean flavours of the lobster. Steaming is also a slower and gentle way of cooking lobsters, so the chances of overcooking the meat are lower.
Eating a lobster is probably one of the best experiences I hold dearly to my heart. Every step of the lobster eating experience is magical. From the moment I pick them from the fishmongers, to steaming them in the pot, to cracking the shells, and to finally eating the sweetest meat the ocean can offer you!
In selecting live lobsters, I always ask the fishmongers to give me the “feisty” ones, the one that will lift its claws and flap its tail. “Feisty” lobsters are healthy lobsters, you don’t want a lazy one, which could mean that they are older with tougher shells and tougher meat. I also go for lobsters between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs, as they are usually younger lobsters with sweeter meat. I find that “huge” lobsters over 2 lbs are more likely to be older with tougher meat.
One of my favourite side dishes to serve with steamed lobsters is a mélange of beautiful ingredients of the succotash. In making succotash, I always use fresh ears of corn to add sweetness to the dish, and fresh basil to add bright, sweet, and peppery aromas. After getting the kernels off the cob, I add the cobs in the steaming salt water to use with cooking the lobsters. Below are recipes on how to steam lobsters and how to make a simple succotash.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook/Steam time: Varies on the weight. See Notes*
Serving: 1 lobster per person
1 large steamer pot with a tight fitting lid (4-5 quart pot will fit up to 6 lbs of lobster or 2-4 lobsters)
2 lobsters (make sure they are about the same size, as the size determines the cooking time)
2 tbsp. of sea salt per 1 quart of water. (Use sea water if available, no salt needed if using sea water)
- Fill the pot with about 2-3 inches of salt water, use sea water if available. Carefully add the steamer rack in the pot, make sure it does not touch the water. If you do not have a steamer rack, bunch up aluminum foil into ball shapes, higher than the water. Cover and bring to a rolling boil.
- Preparing the lobster:
- Select live feisty lobsters, the ones that will raise its claw and flap it’s tail, sign of freshness and youth!
- If buying more than one lobster, make sure that they are all similar in weight/size, as the weight will determine the cooking time.
- It is better to cook Lobsters the same day you buy them. Lobsters can survive about 4-5 hours in your cold refrigerator. Do not submerge them in tap water.
- I prefer cooking them alive (sorry my PETA friends). If this makes you cringe, you can “humanely” kill the lobsters before steaming by placing them on a cutting board. Then place a large sharp knife at the “cross marks” on the back of the lobster’s head, and swiftly cut down the head of the lobster through the cutting board.
- If you have no experience with live lobsters, I recommend keeping the rubber bands on the claws. Otherwise, be brave and remove them! Some lobster experts say that it might add a rubbery taste/smell to the steaming water and the lobster meat.
- Add the lobsters to the pot head first. Do not overcrowd the lobsters, make sure you can still see the bottom of the pot. Cover tightly, quickly bring back to a boil and start the cooking time. If cooking more than one lobster, cooking time is not cumulative. That is if you have two 2lbs of lobsters, cooking time will be the same for one 2 pounder, between 11-12 minutes.
- Lobsters are done when the shells are bright red and the meat is white (not opaque). Another way of testing if the lobsters are cooked is to pull one of the antennae while it is still in the pot. If the antennae pops out, it is a good sign the lobsters are done.
- Note that the lobsters will cook a little longer when you take it out of the pot, to stop the cooking process you can always submerge them in an ice-water bath for one minute.
- Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges on the side.
*Cook/Steam time: Varies on the weight, rule of thumb is 8min per pound for the first pound, then add 3min per pound for each additional pound. If cooking more than one lobster, cooking time is not cumulative. That is, if you have two 2lbs of lobsters, cooking time is the same for one 2 pounder, about 11-12minutes.
Lobster Weight: Steaming Time
1-1/4 lbs. 8 minutes
1-1/2 lbs. 8-10 minutes
2 lbs. 11-12 minutes
2-1/2-3 lbs. 12-14 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 serving
1tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cup of onions, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 1/2 – 3 cups of fresh corn kernels from 4 ears or corn (or use frozen or canned if needed)
1 cup of fresh lima beans (or 5oz of frozen lima beans, thawed before use)
1 cup of green peas
3 tbsp. of fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat.
- Add onions, add a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté untl soft, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add bell peppers, zucchini, corn, lima beans and green peas to the skillet. Cook and stir occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.