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How to Cook Live Lobster

Maine Lobster

Fun fact: There's an easy way to tell if your lobster was cooked alive or dead. If the tail curls under, you are eating a lobster that was alive when it was plunged into the boiling water.

And you may even notice that it tastes fresher too. Because they are seafood, lobsters spoil pretty quickly so cooking them live is a simple way to enjoy the taste and reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. 

At the same time, there's something classy and gourmet about cooking live lobster, especially if you're preparing a meal to impress.

If you've never done it before, you may be wondering how to cook live lobster. You've come to the right place. This guide will provide step-by-step directions, as well as tips for getting it done right. 

Equipment Needed

One of the great things about cooking lobster, besides the delicious way it tastes, is that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to get it done. 

In fact, a large soup or stockpot is all you'll need. The size depends on how many lobsters you plan to prepare. You don't want to crowd the lobsters because they won't cook evenly.

For a couple of lobsters, a 5-ounce pot is ideal. If you're planning on cooking five or six lobsters, opt for a larger stockpot; around 20 ounces will provide ample space. 

A pair of tongs make it easy to remove the lobsters once they're cooked. 

How to Cook Live Lobster

You'll be surprised at how easy cooking lobster is and will wonder why you waited so long to give it a try. There are two methods for cooking live lobsters: steaming and boiling. 

Steaming tends to result in more tender meat and keeps as much water from getting into the lobster as it cooks. However, boiling works better when you're cooking more than a couple of lobsters and is faster than steaming. 

You may want to try both methods to find out which produces the flavor and texture you want. Keep reading to find out how to do both. 

Remember that the best way to cook lobster is up to you. Once you've given both methods a try, you'll know which one you like better. 

How to Steam a Lobster

1. Fill a large stockpot about 2 inches with water. 

2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. 

3. Place a steaming rack over the water that is large enough to accommodate the lobsters. 

4. Bring the water to a fast rolling boil. 

5. Place the lobsters on the steaming rack, head first.

6. Cover the pot and keep the water boiling. 

7. Steam the lobsters for about seven minutes for the first pound and an additional three minutes for every other pound. 

8. Remove the lobsters, using tongs, and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before cracking the shells. 

How to Boil a Lobster

1. Fill your stockpot at least halfway. You should have enough water for the lobsters to be under about 3 inches. 

2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water.

3. Place the lobsters in the pot, head down, one at a time, making sure you get each one completely under the water. 

4. Cover the pot and bring the water back to a boil as quickly as possible. 

5. Keep the water boiling during the entire cooking process, but watch the pot so it doesn't boil over. 

6. Remove the lobsters, using a pair of tongs, and cool for 5 minutes before cracking the shells.

7. Gently pierce the lobster's tail with a sharp knife to remove any water that has collected during cooking. 

How Long to Cook Live Lobster

As mentioned above, boiling lobsters is faster than steaming them. Knowing your cooking times is important because it prevents you from ending up with overcooked or undercooked meat. 

You'll need to know how much your lobsters weigh to determine the right cooking time. 

It usually takes about 8 minutes to boil one pound of lobster. You'll need about 15 minutes for two pounds. 

When it comes to the lobster cooking time for steaming, you'll need to increase it by a couple of minutes. That's because the lobsters aren't submerged in the water. The steam is cooking them instead, which takes longer. 

It will take approximately 8 minutes to steam a pound of lobster. Two pounds will take about 13 minutes.

Of course, you want to keep an eye on your lobsters while they cook. These are estimates for cooking time and it could take less or more, so make sure you don't leave your lobsters unattended while they're cooking. 

When is the Lobster Done?

There's nothing more frustrating than taking the time and money to prepare live lobsters, only to discover that they're undercooked when you crack the shells open. 

Fortunately, it's not too hard to determine if your lobsters are ready to eat. Knowing when they're done means a delectable main course anytime you decide to prepare live lobsters. 

The best way to tell your lobsters are cooked is when the shell turns bright red. The meat will be white, but without any spots that look clear or translucent. 

If you're still unsure if the lobsters are done, you can use a meat thermometer. Insert the reader underneath the tail, close to the lobster's body. When the internal temperature reaches 135 to 140 degrees, they are cooked through. 

If the lobster isn't cooked all the way, simply reheat the water and place them back in the pot for another minute or two. It's easier to fix undercooked lobster than overcooked lobster.

Lobsters will continue cooking once you remove them from the water. Place them in a bowl of ice to halt the cooking process. 

Tips for Cooking and Eating Lobster

You've got the basic method for cooking lobsters, how long to cook them, and how to know they're done. These additional tips will help you along the way. 

Live lobsters have bands on their claws. You can remove them before cooking, but use caution so you don't get pinched. If you prefer, you can leave them on until after the lobsters are cooked.

When you place the live lobsters in the pot, hold the bottom of the lobster away from your body. That way if the tails flip water when you drop them in the pot, it won't splash and burn you. 

Once cooked, use a nutcracker or kitchen shears to break open the lobster shells so you can pull out the meat inside. Start with the claws and move to the tail. If the lobster is large, you can also eat the legs. 

Female lobsters contain roe, which you will find when you break open the shell. Many people also enjoy eating this, but you can scrape it out with a spoon if you don't want to eat it. 

The tail contains the lobster's digestive tract. After you have removed the shell, you can pull it out using your fingers. It won't hurt you to eat it, but it may affect the flavor.

If, by some strange chance, you don't finish the lobster meat, be sure you store it in the refrigerator. You can reheat it in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. 

You can also toss it with some butter and reheat it in a small pot on the stove. The microwave is another option, but typically affects the texture of the meat. Use leftover meat to make lobster bisque or lobster rolls

How to Serve Lobster

The classic way to serve lobster is with a side of melted butter. You can jazz it up with garlic, black pepper, or parsley to give the butter another level of flavor. A few lemon wedges are great for squeezing onto the lobster meat.

Of course, the lobster is going to take center stage at mealtime, but choosing the right side dishes will turn the meal into something really special.

Coleslaw or a simple tossed salad allows the lobster to shine, but pair well with the flavor of the meat. Other vegetables that taste wonderful alongside lobster include glazed carrots and steamed asparagus. 

Baked potatoes are a classic side to serve with lobster. Macaroni and cheese and risotto are other delicious choices. Many people love the taste of lobster served with Boston baked beans. 

Finish your lobster meal with something sweet. A fruit pie, cheesecake, brownies, or fresh fruit are tasty desserts to end with. 

With so many lobster recipes and ideas to choose from, you should have no trouble putting together a meal that makes you proud. 

The Takeaway

Are you surprised that learning how to cook live lobster is so much easier than you thought? With this handy guide, you have everything you need to make a meal that everyone will remember. 

There's nothing quite like the creamy taste of freshly cooked lobster so make it a part of your celebrations from here on out. You'll never regret it. 

When you're ready to order top-quality lobsters to prepare for your loved ones, check out our fresh live lobster and you'll be ready to get started. 

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