Tips & Techniques Cooking Boiling Lobster

Boiled and served with a dipping sauce, lobster makes a simple yet sublime meal. Because lobster pairs well with a variety of flavors, your options for sauces are many. Try melted butter, tarragon mayonnaise, chili-lime sauce, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, or melted butter flavored with a touch of vanilla.

Boiling Lobster

Steps for Boiling Lobster

Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. To ensure quick cooking, use 1 gallon for 1 lobster; add 1 quart for each additional lobster.

Drop a live lobster in headfirst, taking care to avoid any splashing from its tail. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

Cook a lobster 8 minutes for the first pound plus 2 minutes for each additional 1/4 pound. Remove with tongs and let the lobster cool slightly before serving.

Boiling Lobster

Removing Meat from Cooked Lobsters

Drain any residual water from boiled or steamed lobsters by making a small cut between the eyes on the lobster head. Hold the lobster by its tail over a sink to drain the excess cooking liquid from underneath the shell.

Firmly twist off the claws from the body. With a lobster cracker or mallet, break the hard shell of each claw in several places. Pull away the shell pieces, taking care not to damage the claw meat if a recipe calls for it to be left whole.

Boiling Lobster

Insert the tip of a large, sharp, sturdy knife into the point where the tail and body sections meet, and carefully cut lengthwise through the tail. Turn the lobster around and continue to cut from the center through the head, cutting the lobster into 2 equal halves.

Pull out and discard the black vein that runs the length of the body meat, as well as the small sand sac at the base of the head. Remove the white meat from the shell. If you like, reserve the green tomalley, or liver, and any bright red roe, which can be added to lobster dishes for extra flavor.

Boiling Lobster

Firmly grasp the fins of a tail half with one hand. With the other, firmly pull out the tail meat in a single piece, using a fork to pry it loose if needed. Repeat with the other tail half.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday Cooking, Equipment and Ingredients (Time-Life Books, 2000)