One of the best ways to enjoy lobster also happens to be one of the simplest! Simply steam for 8 minutes and serve with a small dish of melted butter and fresh lemon wedges on the side.
159 people made this
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 (170g) lobster tails
- 125g butter, melted
MethodPrep:2min ›Cook:8min ›Ready in:10min
- Fill a large pot with about 2.5cm (1 inch) of water and bring to the boil. Add the salt and place a steamer insert inside the pot so that it is just above the water level. Place the lobster tails inside the steamer and cover the pot. Steam for 8 minutes without peeking! Serve with melted butter.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(166)
Reviews in English (135)
by Matthew D
Very good! BE CAREFUL OF OVERCOOKING. I had a 1.5 lb full lobster which went into the pot for 7 mins and it was a bit overcooked. I would suggest 5 minutes unless you have an enormous lobster. Excellent way to prepare it though!-28 Jun 2008
by Trinka G
This was good although 8 minutes made it a little on the rubbery side. Next time (and there is going to definitely be a NEXT TIME) I will start checking things starting at 6 minutes.-26 Dec 2008
This was simply perfect. Juicy, tender lobster. Yum. I added garlic to the boiling water and butter just because we love garlic in EVERYTHING. Thanks for something so simple and wonderful.-14 Feb 2008
Bring 2" water to a simmer in a large stockpot. Add two 1 1/2-lb. live lobsters (yes, alive) and quickly cover pot—walk away if you need to. Steam lobsters until shells are bright red and meat is cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Remove from pot with tongs and let cool 5 minutes before cracking. Serve with melted unsalted butter.
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This gorgeous hasselback butternut squash looks impressive, but takes minimal effort with only five ingredients and one pan. Hasselback is a technique generally used for potatoes, but works in this recipe to allow the butternut squash to get extra crispy while cooking evenly. If a whole butternut seems like too much for the table, you can cook half and save the remaining for tomorrow's lunch.
This was good but I would substitute jumbo prawns next time - the lobsters were just too mild in flavor.
This was an absolute WOW recipe with bread and Chardonnay! The blend of lemon (we used Meyer lemons) and fresh herbs in the butter is just fantastic with the lobster. We steamed the lobster in salt water (1T salt to 1 qt water). 15 min was perfect for a 2 lb lobster. Make extra butter to dip crusty bread in, too!
I lobster dive in So Cal and enjoy it FREE and with a great bottle of Chardonnay. This recipe is a darn good one. Also "California Spiny Lobster" has a sweeter flesh than Maine lobster.
why is this called "steamed" when it is in fact boiled?
Just had to add a "West Coast" note now that I've read all of yours. Made this just like the recipe and loved it. But, everyone knows that lobsters are served with a baked potato and rice!
What a pleasure to find a recipe that respects the delicate, unique flavor of lobster instead of overpowering it! As for white wine and cole slaw vs. onion rings and beer? I grew up in Maine and believe BOTH are wonderful and appropriate! BTW. this butter is incredible with the steamers.
At last, a great butter diiping sauce!!We used this melted butter with steamed spiney lobsters, prawns, and sea snails, it held its own with the horseradish catsup and curried mayonaise. Definately a repeater, even sent the recipe to my AK daughter , who used it with halibut.
I see, you live near Maine so the only way to have lobster is with steamers, onion rings, and cold beer? I thought this recipe was delicious and it was a pleasant change from the "ordinary" as some of us like to venture out of the "shell" no pun intended, well maybe a little pun..
Bread and wine with steamed lobster?? Are ya nuts?? The real way to enjoy steamed lobster is with steamers, some nice cornmeal batter dipped onion rings, potato salad and frosty cold beer!! :)
- Set up a collapsible steamer in a very large pot. Pour in a good inch of water and bring to a boil. Lower the lobster into the pot, on top of the steamer slap on the lid and hold it there for the first minute or so of cooking, to keep the lobster firmly in place. Meanwhile, melt the butter slowly in a small pot, and squeeze in as much lemon juice as you like. Keep warm.
- After 10 minutes of cooking, remove the lobster with tongs, and let the water drip back into the pot. Place on a big plate, with the melted butter in a small cup alongside. If you don’t have lobster-eating equipment, look in your toolbox for something to crack the tough shells, or use a nutcracker. I use poultry shears to cut through the middle from head to tail, so I can break the body open and get at the meat. Dip each bite into the melted butter, and relish the delectable sweet, sea-scented flavor. And be sure to spoon out the tomalley, now greenish in color and creamy in texture, and glorious to eat.
- Return the shells to the broth, and cook together for about 15 minutes, adding a little more water. You’ll now have a fine broth to use in any fish soup, or for the base of a New England Bouillabaisse (page 91).
The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones. Copyright © 2009 by Judith Jones. Published by Knopf. All Rights Reserved.
Judith Jones is senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf. She is the author of The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food and the coauthor with Evan Jones (her late husband) of three books: The Book of Bread Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! and The Book of New New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook, and has contributed to Vogue, Saveur, and Gourmet magazines. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in New York City and Vermont.
How Long to Steam Maine Lobster Recipe?
Traditional Lobster Kettle
The first step is to obtain some freshly caught old shell Maine lobster that is available up to 2.5 pounds. Older shell lobsters are usually stronger and healthier with more meat than new shell lobster. When you choose the lobster that’s right for your meal use a big four to five-gallon kettle or pot with a tight lid and a bottom steaming rack. This size pot should be able to easily handle up to eight pounds of lobster. When placing the lobsters in the pot make sure to not crowd to avoid uneven results.
Begin cooking by adding two to three inches of sea water to cover the bottom of the pot. If you don’t have access to the Atlantic Ocean you can use filtered fresh water and add lots of sea salt one to two tablespoons per quart.
Place the steaming rack inside the pot and use high heat to bring the water to a roiling boil. If you wish, you may remove the rubber lobster claw bands. One at a time, place the live lobster head first into the pot and cover. Start timing the lobster and do not overcook.
Lobster Steaming Times (Old Shell Weight)
- 1 pound, 8-10 minutes
- 1 ¼ pounds, 10-12 minutes
- 1 ½ pounds, 12-14 minutes
- 1 ¾ pounds, 15-17 minutes
- 2 pounds, 16-18 minutes
- 2 ½ pounds, 18-20 minutes
- 3 pounds, 20-30 minutes
- 5 pounds, 35-45 (or more) minutes
*If you’re using new shell lobster reduce time by 3 minutes.
Halfway through the allotted cook time, open the lid and move the lobster around in the pot. Shifting is important for an even cook. You may add a little more water if necessary. To determine when the lobsters are fully cooked the lobster shell will be bright red and the meat white.
What’s the best way to tell when the lobsters are done?
Large lobsters’ shell can be red but may not be fully cooked and lobsters on top of the pot may not have cooked as quickly as the ones on the bottom. A great way to see if your lobster is done is to give one of the lobster antennae a pull while in the steamer pot. If the antenna pops off it’s a good indicator of being fully cooked. You can also use tongs to remove one lobster and cut a small slice at the bottom of the tail to see if the meat is fully white.
Allow steamed lobster to drain for a minute since it will continue to cook for a minute even after it’s taken out of the pot. When setting a time keep this in mind to avoid overcooking. You may pierce the body and tail with a knife to help drain the water. Then serve right away with a side of melted butter and a slice of lemon.
Cooking live lobsters at home is easier if you sedate them first by putting them in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes (see NOTES). If you have a typical stockpot (8 quarts), you will likely be able to cook only two lobsters at a time. A steamer basket in the bottom of the pot will keep the lobsters above the boiling water, preventing any portion of them from boiling, but is not essential to success. Cooking time will vary depending on the lobsters’ size. For larger lobsters, add about 2 minutes per quarter-pound to the cooking time. After eating your lobster, don't toss the shells, but use them to make lobster stock (see NOTES) and save it for bouillabaisse, risotto or bisque.
Traditional accompaniments to steamed lobster are butter and lemon as well as corn on the cob and boiled new potatoes.
Storage Notes: Refrigerate steamed lobster meat in a container with a tightfitting lid for up to 2 days.
Where to Buy: Live lobster can be bought at grocery stores, seafood markets or ordered online.
When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.
Tested size: 4 servings 1 lobster per person
In a large, tall stock pot with a tightfitting lid, add about 1 to 2 inches of water. Add a rack or steamer basket to the pot, if using. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
Add two lobsters, more if the pot is large enough, then cover the pot and return the water to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium or medium-low to maintain a vigorous simmer and steam the lobsters until they turn bright red, 13 to 15 minutes.
To check to see if the lobster is done, pull on one of the long antennas. If it comes off easily, the lobsters are ready. If not, cook for a few more minutes. (The flesh of cooked lobster should be white with red markings, and the tomalley, or liver, should be green.)
Use tongs to remove the lobsters. Check the water level and then repeat this process with the remaining two lobsters.
Allow lobsters to rest until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Serve warm with melted butter and, if desired, lemon.
Want picture-perfect lobsters? Food stylist Lisa Cherkasky has this advice: After they are steamed, spray the lobster with hot water and give them a quick rub with a towel to remove any white bits of protein. Then, rub them with a little olive oil, arrange their legs, unfurl the tail a little and set them on a plate.
For cold dishes: If steaming lobster for lobster rolls or salad, place the steamed lobster on ice and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then, use lobster crackers and picks to remove the tail, claw and, if you’re patient, the leg meat.
How to kill the lobster: One of the more palatable ways to do this is to clear a spot in your freezer before buying the lobsters. As soon as you get them home, put them in the freezer (in the bag they came in) for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, put them directly in the pot.
Some people prefer to use a knife through the head to kill the lobster before steaming. To do this, place the lobster on a cutting board, firmly holding it where the body meets the head — the point at which the vertical and horizontal creases in the shell meet. Quickly thrust a chef’s knife into the head until the knife hits the cutting board, and then cut downward through the center of the head, away from the tail, through the lobster’s eyes. Then, proceed with steaming.
To make lobster stock: In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, add the lobster shells and cover with water or until the pot is about two-thirds full. You may add fresh herbs, alliums (onions, garlic and/or leek) or seasoning, or simply simmer the shells in water in the covered pot, for at least 3 hours. Using tongs, remove the large pieces of shell, then strain the stock through a fine sieve, straining again if necessary. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in freezer-safe containers for up to 4 months.
For a more flavorful stock: In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, heat about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the shells and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add enough water to cover the shells or until the pot is about two-thirds full. Add 1 rough-chopped yellow onion, 3 bay leaves, 1/4 cup cognac, 1/2 cup white wine and your favorite fresh herbs, such as thyme or tarragon, and whole peppercorns or garlic cloves as well. Then simmer and strain as directed above.
Steaming is more gentle cooking technique that yields slightly more tender meat. It preserves a little more flavor and it’s more forgiving on the timing front. It’s harder to overcook a steamed lobster.
- Choose a pot large enough to hold all the lobsters comfortably do not crowd them. A 4- to 5- gallon pot can handle 6 to 8 pounds of lobsters.
- Put 2 inches of seawater or salted water in the bottom of a large kettle.
- Set steaming rack inside the pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
- Add the live lobsters one at a time, cover pot, and start timing.
- Halfway through, lift the lid (careful – the steam is hot) and shift the lobsters around so they cook evenly.
The following recommends timing based on lobster weights:
Is it Done Yet?
Cooked lobsters will turn bright red, but that’s not the best indicator of doneness, especially for large lobsters. They may still be underdone when the shell turns red. Jasper White recommends cooking the lobsters for the recommend time, then cracking one open where the carapece meets the tail. If it’s done, the meat will have changed from translucent to white.
Steaming lobster is one of the best ways to enjoy the true flavor of a fresh live lobster. Steaming is a gentler method of cooking than boiling lobster, and steaming keeps the lobster meat a little more tender then boiling. It is also harder to overcook a lobster including lobster tails when steaming (if a lobster is boiled for too long it will be tough).
It is a little more difficult to remove the meat from a steamed lobster (as compared to a boiled lobster), so if you want to make the lobster a little easier to eat after cracking, or if you are cooking the lobster to use the meat in a another recipe, you might prefer to boil rather than steam.
It is best to use natural seawater for steaming lobster, but if that is not available, simply add about two tablespoons of sea salt to each quart of water.
Cooking times for steaming lobster:
- 1 pound lobster – steam 10 minutes
- 1-1/4 pound lobster – steam 12 minutes
- 1-1/2 pound lobster – steam 14 minutes
- 1-3/4 pound lobster – steam 16 minutes
- 2 pound lobster – steam 18-20 minutes
- 2-1/2 pound lobster – steam 20-25 minutes
Once or twice during steaming, open the lid and move the lobsters around to make sure they steam evenly.
Steamed Lobster Recipe
This ingredient list is a basic suggestion for what will only lightly flavor the lobster meat. If I chose the ingredients in order if importance, it would be: salt, herbs, onion, peppercorn, garlic, bay leaf, lemon, celery. One real necessity, however is salt. Some hard core lobster boiler and steamers only cook them using seawater. Another tactic is to use fresh seaweed mixed in with the seawater to add even more flavor. The premise of this is that boiling or steaming a lobster in water with a lower salinity than the lobster will leach tasty salt from the lobster through osmosis, thus the need for highly salted drawn butter. I think a good amount of salt is 1 tablespoon salt per 1 quart of water. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that much salt will significantly lower the boiling point of the water, because it takes a whole ounce of salt per quart of water to raise the boiling point just one degree.
Preparation Time: 20 minsServings: 4
1 tablespoon salt per 1 quart water added
2-2 pound Maine lobsters
1 medium onion, rough chopped (approximately 3/4 inch square )
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 tsp cracked peppercorns
2 bay leaves
whole branches of fresh dill (if no dill, substitute tarragon or parsley)
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 (1 1/2-pound) Maine lobsters
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 4 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a 5-gallon stockpot. Place a vegetable steamer or rack in bottom of pan. Add lobsters cover and cook 14 minutes or until done. Remove lobsters from pan reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
Twist tail from body. Cut tail lengthwise on top with scissors to split open remove meat from tail. Remove dark green tomalley from head set aside.
Break claws from head. Pull pincers apart remove lower pincer. Hack into shell, cutting through, but not all the way through, claw. Break pieces apart remove meat from claws. Repeat procedure with other lobster.
Combine 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, wine, and shallots in a small saucepan bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add cream and tomalley, if desired. Bring to a simmer remove from heat. Combine cream mixture, parsley, and pepper in a blender process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, and discard solids. Serve with lobster.
Note: Pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should not eat the tomalley because of its toxicity.
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