There is a first time for everything, and this time, cooking live lobsters was the challenge. I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and our friend transferred the crustaceans to the steaming pot of water. But I picked them up from the store and touched them in an attempt to put them in the pot…that counts kind of. Oh, and let’s not forget, I cut the rubber bands off too. Anyways, my long journey through three different stores to find them was work enough.
Leading up to the day, I read tons and tons of articles about the proper procedure for preparing the lobsters. I was determined to cook live ones as opposed to the tails, since I mustered up the courage already. Pushing the idea out of my mind that the top would fly right off once I placed the lid on (just like in the movie Julie & Julia), I researched to make sure my money and work was well worth the delicious meal to follow.
So for all you lobster newbies, this is my rundown of what I learned. While I’m not an expert, I think these tips will still serve the everyday cook well.
Boil or Steam
Apparently, boiling is good if you are a planner and love cooking with a timer. It is easier to calculate the time based on the weight of the lobster. However, steaming provides more time flexibility, which reduces the possibility that you will overcook the meat turning it chewy rubber. I chose steaming and the lobster came out perfectly tender. Just to give you an idea of how flexible steaming can be, I removed two lobsters after 14 minutes and another two minutes after and all three tasted wonderful. You can click here for more timing tips.
How to Steam a Live Lobster
To steam, you need a large pot that will fit all your lobsters. Heat the pot on high with about an inch of water. Once the water is boiling, place the lobsters in the pot and cover with a lid. A 1 1/2-pound to 2-pound lobster takes approximately 14-16 minutes. The lobster shell will turn bright red when done.
Cutting or Tearing the Lobster Meat
So I read somewhere (of course I can’t find it now) that using a metal knife to cut lobster meat can cause oxidation and impart a metal flavor into the delicate meat. So tearing is recommended. However, I did both and my lobster did not taste like metal in the slightest bit, so I say choose whichever method you like.
Removing the Meat from the Shell
Okay, this part is messy, and I definitely do not have a good process yet. Luckily, I loved cooking live lobster so much, I will definitely be trying it again in the future. My advice: remove the claws and tail from the lobsters. For the claws, place a towel or paper plate on top of the piece you are working with before taking your mallet to it. This will save you a lot of heartache of cleaning up splatters of lobster juice. Believe me, there will be way more than you expect. I was shocked and pretty messy at the end. For the tails, I tried two methods, a knife and a pair of scissors. The knife worked the best, but I had to be extra cautious since the tails were not entirely sturdy. Click here and here for more tips on how to remove the meat from the shell, and click here for lobster tools.
Now let me know your experience with preparing live lobsters. I’d love to hear about any tricks you have and the recipes you think I should try for the next go around.