Succulent lobster: How to take the fear out of buying, cooking and serving lobster
Do you love lobster, but imagine that cooking a lobster dinner at home will play out like a scene from a horror movie? By learning just a few simple tricks, you can master the art of buying and cooking this culinary delicacy. Armed with these easy recipes, you will soon be preparing gourmet lobster dinners in your own kitchen.
Make sure you purchase your lobsters from a store with a live lobster tank. Lobsters will be separated by weight, with an average lobster weighing between 1-1/4 and 2 pounds. Lobsters are priced per pound, not per piece, so take your budget into account when making your selection. One 1-1/4 pound lobster will feed one person.
Don't worry, you won't need to reach your hands into the tank to select your lobster! The fishmonger will fetch your choice for you. No reason to be concerned if the lobsters are not the bright red color you may expect (that red color will develop when you cook your lobster).
Rather than bringing live lobsters home (which can be a bit unnerving even for lobster pros!), ask the fishmonger to kill the lobster for you, which he will do by quickly inserting a sharp knife into the top of the lobster's shell, about 2 inches above the eyes.
Widely believed to be the most humane method of killing lobsters, your lobster will be fresh for up to two hours after leaving the store. Just make sure to keep it refrigerated until you are ready to prepare it.
The most popular methods of cooking lobsters are boiling and steaming, though lobster tails can also be broiled and grilled. Learning a basic steaming technique for lobster will provide you with the basis for many easy lobster recipes. Here are instructions for a perfectly steamed lobster.
- Fill a large stockpot with two cups of water, and fit the bottom of the pot with a metal collapsible vegetable steamer. Set the heat to medium-high, and add the lobster to the pot when steam develops. Cover tightly, and allow the lobster to steam for 13 minutes for the first pound, three minutes per pound thereafter. A 1-1/4 pound lobster should steam for 14 minutes. Be sure not to overcook the lobster, as it will result in tough, chewy meat. If you like, serve the simple steamed lobster with some lemon and melted butter. If you'd like to try out some different lobster recipes, continue with steps two and three.
- Using tongs, remove the cooked lobster from the pot and drop into a prepared ice bath. Swish the lobster around in the icy water until completely cooled (the curled tail will take the longest).
- Protecting your hands with a kitchen towel, twist off the tail and legs from the lobster, discarding the rest of the body. Use a nutcracker to remove the meat from the claw, knuckles and tail of the lobster. A small seafood fork will aid you in retrieving the small but precious bits of meat that may be trapped in the shell. No seafood fork? A fondue fork will also work well!
Congratulations! The hardest part is over, you have successfully steamed a lobster. That little pile of succulent lobster meat you now have can be used in some easy but show-stopping recipes.
Classic New England lobster roll
Makes 2 servings
- 1 steamed 1-1/2 pound lobster, meat removed from shell, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery
- 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
- 2 hot dog buns
- Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl.
- Generously butter the inside of the hot dog rolls, and grill face down on a griddle.
- Spoon the lobster mixture into the hot dog buns.
- Serve with potato chips and dill pickles.
For a succulent light dish, try this Asian lobster salad >>
Makes 4 servings
- 1 steamed 2-1/2 pound lobster, meat removed from shell, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, roughly chopped
- Olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3/4 cup green peas
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Drop the spaghetti into a large pot of boiling, salted water, and cook until al dente. Set aside and keep warm.
- In a bowl, whisk together the cream and eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta in a bit of olive oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the lobster and peas and cook for 2 minutes or until warmed. Turn the heat down to low, and add the cream mixture to the pan. Stir the sauce continuously, to prevent the egg from clumping. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce is warm and just starting to bubble and thicken.
- Add the warm spaghetti to the sauce and toss with tongs to incorporate. Transfer to warmed pasta bowls and serve immediately.