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Dec 31, 2009 12:17 PM

Beginner lobster cooking question

I am cooking lobster tonight and have had problems timing it in the past. The problem is that all the advice I read says to add the lobster, and then "return the water to a boil", then cook for 8-10 minutes or so. Well last time I sat there waiting for the water to return to a boil with my stove on high, and it took forever to do so - I ended up taking the lobster out before the water ever returned to a boil, and it was already quite overdone. My cheap apartment stove just doesn't seem to have much power. Is there some other way I can time/judge the doneness, or should I just resort to steaming?

Thanks - my first post here, I hope it's in the right forum.

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  1. Are you covering the pot after you've put the lobster in?

    1 Reply
    1. Are you making sure that your have your pot of water on a rapid boil before adding the lobster?

      Do you have too much water in the pot? I usually only put about 2 " of water and make sure it's rapidly boiling with salted water. And if you don't have a huge lobster pot to steam them in, you might want to cook them two at a time.

      Even when I use my huge (tall) lobster pot, I put very little water in it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mcel215

        It sounds like you are recommending steaming instead of boiling. I think this is probably the best idea, given my weak stove. Thanks.

        1. re: littleneck12

          Steaming gives you the best end result anyway. Get a steaming rack (Target has a silicone-covered one that doesn't have the upright post in the center -- I'm going to invest in one of those) and go for it. Sounds like your range will be more than up to this method.

          Though I have done it myself only once, the method of wrapping crustaceans in plastic then microwaving has a lot of fans. However, I think the recipes I've seen are for crab legs, which are steamed upon harvest, so they really need only a reheating instead of cooking. I'm sure you could do it with a livelob, but I don't know how to go about it exactly. Theoretically, it should be the most pure method.

          1. re: littleneck12

            We owned a commercial lobster fishing boat for over 10 years. Cooked many lobsters. You're welcome.
            And I steam mine in a couple of cans of beer some fo the time too! Mostly just a couple inches of salted water does it nicely tho. ;)

        2. Here's a link to Jasper White's boiling chart (maybe halfway down the page):

          White says you should first bring the pot to a boil, add the lobsters and begin timing immediately (don't wait for the pot to return to a full boil). I've relied on his chart for years and the results are always excellent. Be sure your water is properly salted.

          His book, Lobster at Home, is wonderful.

          2 Replies
          1. re: steve h.

            Perfect, so he recommends 1.5-2 quarts of water per lb of lobster. Thanks alot. Of course, he also says "when no ocean water is available, I usually recommend steaming", so I think I'll just go that route.

            1. re: littleneck12

              I also think it makes a HUGE difference whether your stove is gas or electric. Mine is electric and it takes MUCH longer for things to return to a boil than when I've used gas (especially when you are dealing with a lot of water). I think steaming is your best bet too.

              as a side note...a friend and I once tried to boil lobsters at the beach in a giant stock pot on a hibatchi. You can probably guess how that worked out. LOL 45 mins later the water had not even come to a boil!

          2. I don't see where you mention the weight of the lobster/s. Personally, I feel just about all the recipes you will see in cookbooks or online will be for directions to boil the lobster for too long a time. If you want to use the shallow water /steam method suggest, then go for the full 10 minutes. If you are going to boil immersed in salted water, you do not need to return to boil......and again, 10 minutes is probably suffice to cook the whole body and tail. Ming Tsai actually removes the claws and legs from the body and pours hot boiling water from a steam kettle over the parts and covers them with a simple kitchen towel for 5-6 minutes for up to two pounders.

            There was a thread about cooking pasta and whether the full time listed to cook the pasta required constant boiling in water. The OP, stated it was not, and I put it to the test....even for pasta requiring 14-15 minutes as listed on packages. Every pasta I have cooked in the past couple of years was with the flame off after dropping the pasta into the water and covering the pot. A few stirs during the duration all produced perfect pasta. For me it's the same with sea foods sch as shrimp and lobster.....which I never cook in anything more than a gentle simmer......Come back with the weight of the lobster and we can all give you a better idea for the time needed to make a perfect boiled/steamed lobster.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fourunder

              I never use more than an inch of water.....small lobsters will be done in 10 minutes, large ones 15 more! If you have females (the best in my opinion) you will find that the roe is still raw (although winter lobsters don't usually have much roe). I just scoop it out and broil it with a touch of butter for only a minute or two.