Why not cook at home?
There is nothing better, at this time of the year, than a nice grilled corn on the cob, and a big steamed lobster dinner. Many of my customers get their lobsters cooked by us at the market, where they are boiled and then placed in tin serving trays to be eaten later that night. I always think to myself, “why wouldn’t you want to cook the lobsters fresh, and eat them while they are still steaming hot??”.
My best guess would be that those customers don’t want to deal with the mess of cooking lobsters, which, makes sense in theory. The truth is cooking lobsters is as messy as boiling water for pasta. Eating those lobsters is the messy part.
The next guess I have as to why my customers don’t cook their lobsters at home is because they are lazy! Which is fine with me, but in actuality, cooking a lobster takes just a little longer than 10 minutes time!
Some of my customers prefer to pick up their lobsters already cooked because they feel bad “killing” the lobsters themselves. Now this is the aspect that I may understand the most. I never kill anything unless for food purposes or for work, but even then it makes me feel morally wrong. But you can drop the lobsters in the steaming pot, and close the lid, and walk away. And the next time you see them, it will look like they spent a long week in Bermuda for January vacation.
The final theory I have on why my customers don’t cook lobsters at home is because they don’t know how! That’s why Filet To Table is here.
Cooking lobsters is very easy, and is filled with a lot of myth. My father was a Commercial Lobsterman for over 20 years, right here in Long Island Sound. I grew up eating lobster 4 times a week! What a terrible way to live. When you eat lobster 4 times a week, you get pretty good at cooking it too, and my father has always taken pride in cooking his lobsters in a rather “pure” way.
Steam vs. Boil
There seems to be some real debate in the seafood world as to whether boiled or steamed lobster is better. I will say, I have never boiled lobster a day in my life, and I never plan to. In the words of my father “boiling is for making soup”. I would tend to agree, and I have found that because boiled lobster sits in water, when you crack open the shell to finally eat the lobster, you are met with roughly a half gallon of water pouring from ever crevice of the body. The meat is usually a bit waterlogged, and the flavor of the meat is muted by the addition of all of the water.
Equipment to Use
I always hear from customers that they don’t have the equipment necessary to cook their lobsters at home. Now, I would agree, you do need a rather large cooking pot to cook 3+ lobsters at the same time, but for one or two lobsters you don’t need a very large pot. To steam lobsters, you don’t even need a steaming basket for your pot! A pair of tongs is going to be needed for grabbing the lobsters out when they are finished. Nut crackers, or specifically designed lobster crackers make quick work of the shells. If you don’t have crackers, just get a couple of clean dish rags, and lay them over the shell you are going to crack, and hit with a hammer, or a rubber mallet if you have one.
How I Cook Lobsters
When I cook lobsters, I fill my pot with maybe an inch and a half of water. I get the water in a rolling boil, so steam starts to fill the pot. I do not season the water with anything, nor do I season my lobsters. If you prefer to season your lobster with Old Bay or another type of seasoning, you can do that before you steam them. I have also heard recipes of beer boiling, or beer steaming, but I don’t know anything about these methods. I do not even salt the water, as lobsters themselves hold a good amount of salt. The more you add to the lobster, the more you take away from the natural taste of the lobster.
Before I cook my lobsters, I crack the claws of the lobsters. Yes, before I cook them, I crack the claw because the arms and claws of the lobsters are watertight. If you don’t crack the claws, what you’ll find is that the claws of the lobsters and the tails of the lobsters cook at different rates. If you have ever had lobster claws that are mushy, and tails that are cooked perfectly or tails that were hard and chewy but claws that were cooked well, then you understand what I am talking about. After I crack the claws, I place the lobsters in the pot with the claws facing down closest to the steam. Again, this is because the tails cook so quickly, I just try to get the rate of cook as close as possible.
As far as cook time, I usually cook my lobsters for 11-13 minutes. If the lobsters are larger, then I cook them for a longer time. If they are soft shell, I cook them for less time. Your lobsters should turn a nice orange and red color when they are close to done.
When the lobsters are done, take them out of the water and let the lobsters drip dry for a couple of seconds over the pot you cooked them in.
Twist off the tail, and squeeze it in your palm so that your break it in the middle of its curve. Twist the claws off, and break into them. The small part of the claw has meat as well, and so does the knuckle section between the claw and the body.
I serve my lobsters with drawn butter and fresh lemon juice. Dip your pieces of lobster in both and enjoy!