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How to Steam Lobster | Expert Advice

How to Steam Lobster | Expert Advice
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Instructions to Steam Lobster
Photo/Art by Brenda Darroch
Bertha Nunan, wife of a longtime lobsterman, shared her recipe with Yankee more than 30 years ago, in the June 1979 issue —Eds.

“The secret to cooking lobsters is not to murder them. Give them a nice, slow, respectable way out. Don’t put them in boiling water, and don’t drown them in too much water. Boiling them in a lot of water just boils their flavor out, and too much water waterlogs them. I put in two inches of water, whether I’m cooking two lobsters or 14. I take a salt container, and with the spout open, I pour it three times around the pot; then, plop! at the end [about three teaspoons]. When the water is boiling, put in the lobsters, put the lid on, and steam them for 20 minutes. Not a minute less or a minute more…. When they’re done, draw up your butter and serve the lobster with a dish of vinegar as well. Now the next step is what a lot of people, and practically all restaurants, ignore: I always put in fresh salted water for every batch of lobsters.”

Updated Friday, June 11th, 2010

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10 Responses to How to Steam Lobster | Expert Advice

  1. Martha Campbell July 7, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I was taught by Maine grandmother to steam a 1 1/2 lb. lobster for 15 minutes and add 5 minutes for each additional pound. (We like 2 1/2 to 3 lb. lobsters so there is more meat!) Wondering about the 20 minutes flat — how large are the lobsters she is cooking?

  2. jim poe July 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    I still cant’ keep myself from adding about a 1/4 cup of “Old Bay Seasoning” in the water…..but I’m from Ohio so what do I know…. 😉

  3. Howard R. Stewart July 5, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I’ve tried all types of lobstah cookin’ and I admit that steaming them, with salt added to the water, is my preferred way to do them honor.

  4. Sylvia Sim July 5, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I learned to cook lobster from my grandmother back in the 1950’s. She used to say “no self-respecting Mainlander (what Mainers were called then) would ever boil a lobster. Steaming or baking was the way to go. Most of the time we baked. She would take a sharp knife and slit them from mouth to tip of tail, take out the crop and intestions. Use the tomalley for a bread crumb stuffing and bake or broil them. YUM YUM! I can taste them now.

  5. kevin church July 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Martha Campbell’s timing is about right and yes, steaming is best.

  6. Joyce Miller July 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Grew up in Maine in a lobster fishing community, and we ate a lot of lobsters. There were no lobsters weighing 2.5 or 3 pounds allowed in Maine then. Just checked and I guess they can now go to four pounds. Wow! I ate large lobsters in Massachusetts years ago and they were always quite tough compared to the lobsters of about a pound and a quarter or a pound and a half.

  7. Debi July 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    This Connecticut Yankee agrees with Sylvia! Slitting the lobster from mouth to tail allows for an instant death, unlike slowly steaming them in a pot of water. Adding stuffing is optional for us; we either do a Ritz cracker/butter/chopped shrimp or crabmeat stuffing or enjoy the lobsters “plain”, with a sprinkle of seasoned salt and drawn butter. Delicious!

  8. Diane Vaughan July 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    I don’t think I could slit the live lobster, when we were young, we would let them walk around the kitchen floor (we needed the entertainment, before TV). I steam them, but lately, since the store does it for free, and my husband doesn’t like lobster, why stink up the house.

  9. Mary Wilkins July 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    Years ago, I had the opportunity to partake in a 25# lobster meal. The meat was delicious and tender. If anyone had a “tough” lobster it was probably from over cooking! I personally believe they tough myth is perpetuated by the Maine legislation to prevent lobstermen & women from keeping the big ones! Oversize are legal in NH :)

  10. Mike Donovan August 17, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Thanks!! I have been cooking lobster wrong for almost 30 years! Da.
    Thanks again.

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