Preparing Lobster

The cooking time for fresh lobster depends very much on personal choice or cultural culinary preferences. In Canada, we tend to like our lobster quite well-done compared to countries such as France, where it is cooked for a much shorter time. Whole frozen lobster or raw frozen tails can be used in place of live lobsters. Defrost frozen lobster products according to instructions in Handling Lobster.

How Much: As a general rule of thumb, allow 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of lobster per person. Of course, if you are a lobster lover you will likely want to increase this amount (tails are full of meat so plan 4-6 ounces per serving). Boiling lobster is probably the most popular method of preparing lobster, however there are many other ways to fully enjoy this marvelous crustacean. Below are a few of the preferred ways to cook fresh lobster. Be adventurous, you may discover a new favorite dish.

Boiling: Use sufficient salted water to fully cover the lobsters and bring to a rolling boil. Grasp the lobster by the back and plunge it headfirst into the boiling water. Cover and simmer 7-10 minutes for the first pound in 2-3 minutes for each additional pound. Remember to increase the cooking time if more than one lobster is in the pot. Once the lobster is cooked, remove it from the water. The lobster will continue to cook in its shell even when removed from the cooking liquid —so take them out just before they are cooked or cook until done and then place into iced water to cool and stop the cooking process. If you plan to serve the lobster cold, refrigerate it until needed.

If you want to be creative try adding carrots, onion, white wine and a bouquet of herbs to the cooking liquid. If you eliminate the salt, you can reserve the cooking water for soups or sauces.

Steaming: Put 1/2″ of water, a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar in the pot and bring to a boil. Put the live lobsters in the pot, cover and steam for 15 minutes for a 1-pound lobster. Add 5 minutes for each extra pound.

Poaching: Lobsters benefit from poaching because their natural flavour can be complemented by the addition of aromatic herbs and seasonings. To enhance poaching, prepare poaching liquid in one pan with herbs and seasonings such as lemon, chives, onion and celery. The liquid should be sufficient to completely cover the lobster. Simmer liquid to blend flavours.

Have a second pan of water at a full rolling boil. Place the lobster headfirst into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove the lobster from the boiling water and transfer to the poaching liquid. Cover tightly and simmer gently (without boiling) until done. Test by tugging on antenna, or small leg, which will pull easily away when fully cooked.

Pre-cooked lobster meat can be very gently poached for short period of time, just to heat it. For a particularly pleasing end result, wrap lobster meat, lemon zest, parsley or chives, a dash of garlic and white wine in plastic wrap. (Substitution: orange zest, dill, pepper and orange juice) Place in simmering water and cook 2-3 minutes. The possibilities are endless when poaching live or pre-cooked lobster.

Broiling/Grilling: To split raw lobster for broiling or grilling first locate the well-defined cross on the back of the head. Pierce firmly with a sharp heavy knife, with a sharp edge of the knife facing towards the tail. The lobster will die instantly. (it might still move but this is a nerve twitching only) Continue to cut down the back splitting the lobster lengthwise. Poultry shears can assist with cutting the shell if difficulty is encountered using the knife Alternatively, the lobster can be immersed in boiling water for 2-3 minutes prior to splitting. This will blanche the lobster (will not be fully cooked) with the balance of the cooking to be done by broiling or grilling

Extract the cartilaginous stomach sac from near the head along with the gills and discard. Check for any pieces of broken shell and remove.

Remove and discard the intestine that runs from head to tail. It may have been cut so check both sides of the shell. If you plan to use the tomalley or liver in a sauce, remove the soft green-gray, or creamy organ. It can be left in place for broiling and should not be thrown away, as it is a delicious. Roe, also delicious can be removed for a sauce or left in place. It appears as a shining green-black substance when raw, turning brilliant red when cooked.

To Broil: Delicious at its simplest lay the split lobster on a broiling pan and brush lightly with butter; place in the broiler about 4 inches below the flame/element. A 1 1/2 pound lobster takes approximately 15 minutes to cook. Serve with drawn butter and lemon wedges. Use your own marinade or basting sauce or remove the meat and combine with a stuffing… the possibilities are endless.

To Barbecue: Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Keeping lobster halves meat side up, brush shells with olive oil. Place halves, meat side up, on barbecue. Brush meat with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover barbecue; grill lobsters until just opaque in thickest portion of tail, 7 to 9 minutes. Serve.