Steamed Lobster with Drawn Butter

Steamed Lobster with Drawn Butter

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
To make it easy for your guests to eat lobsters, crack them before serving. First pull off the claws and knuckles and detach the tail from the body. Pull off the legs and reserve. Place the claws on a board and, using a hammer or mallet, tap the shells and extract the meat in pieces as large as possible. Discard the shells. Using scissors, cut down the middle of the underside of the tail, spread the shell open and extract the tail meat in one piece. Slice and arrange on individual plates in a decorative fashion.


  • 3 Tbs. coarse salt, plus more, to taste
  • 4 small live lobsters, 1 1⁄4 lb. each, or
     2 large live lobsters, 2 1⁄2 lb. each
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • 4 crisp lettuce leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced


In 1 or 2 pots large enough to hold all the lobsters, pour in water to a depth of 3/4 inch and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the 3 Tbs. salt and place a collapsible steamer basket in the pot. Using your hands or tongs, pick up the lobsters by their heads and place on the steamer basket. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes for small lobsters or 25 minutes for larger ones, counting the cooking time from the moment you put them in the pot.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Divide among 4 ramekins or small bowls. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice from 2 of the lemon halves into each container of melted butter and add a sprinkle of salt.

Using tongs, transfer the lobsters to the sink and rinse them under cold running water to stop the cooking.

If using small lobsters, serve them whole. If using large lobsters, halve each lobster by cutting through the underside of the shell from head to tail. Alternatively, crack the lobsters and remove their meat. Place each whole lobster, half lobster or one-fourth of the lobster meat on an individual plate accompanied by a ramekin of melted butter.

Garnish each plate with a lettuce leaf, a slice or two of tomato and a lemon half. If serving whole or halved lobsters, be sure there are lobster or nut crackers and lobster picks for everyone. Serves 4.

Note: Lobsters should show signs of life either in the fish tank or on ice before you purchase them. Once you get the lobsters home, store them in the refrigerator surrounded by damp newspaper or seaweed in an open bag so that they can breathe.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Fish, by Shirley King (Simon & Schuster, 2002).
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