Join The Luscious Lobsters Lovers' League

Although everyone knows that the best way to serve a lobster is just to drop it in boiling salted water and serve with drawn butter, there are many other popular ways to serve up a feisty crustacean.

Early-American settlers didn't know lobsters were edible. Some of them literally starved at a time when lobsters were so plentiful that you could just wade into the water and grab them. We know better now, and preventing starvation will cost you around $10 a pound. Keep in mind that although the price compares favorably with top end steak cuts, no one but the most rabid lobstervore will eat more than half of the total weight of the lob.

Lobster is a crustacean, related to shrimp, prawns, and crawfish, with meat of a similar texture and flavor. Well, similar, but better. I think lobster is simply the finest thing that comes out of the ocean.

There are only two ways to buy your lobster: alive or cooked. If you're fainthearted (in other words, chicken), don't be ashamed to buy cooked lobster. But the surest way to get fresh, properly cooked meat is to buy it live and cook it yourself. You can broil, grill, boil, or steam lobster but boiling is the easiest and most reliable cooking method.

To boil a lobster, start with a really big pot. Fill it with as much water as you can while still leaving enough room for the lobsters - three quarts per each 1 1/2-pound lobster is a good guideline. Add a tablespoon of salt for every quart of water (or use seawater). Bring the water to a boil and add the lobsters. Starting from when the lobsters go into the pot, cook according to the following:

Lobster size & Cooking time:

  • 1 1/4 pounds - 9 to 10 minutes
  • 1 1/2 pounds - 11 to 12 minutes
  • 1 3/4 pounds - 12 to 13 minutes
  • 2 pounds - 15 minutes
  • 2 1/2 pounds - 20 minutes
  • 3 pounds - 25 minutes 

If you buy live lobsters, pick specimens that fight back. In general, the feistier, the fresher. Don't believe the old adage that the meat of bigger lobsters is tougher - if you don't overcook them, they'll be fine. If you're not going to cook your lobsters immediately, they can be stored for a short time in the refrigerator. But warn your family.

  • Make a lobster salad with scallions, celery, and green peppers. Use a mayonnaise-yogurt dressing with mustard and balsamic vinegar. And go ahead, serve it in a hot-dog bun.
  • Top pasta with lobster sautĂ©ed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, and a little cream.
  • Curry your lobster, but use mild spices, so as not to overpower it. A coconut-milk base works well.
  • Make a lobster-buttermilk chowder with fresh corn and cilantro.
  • Use lobster in risotto with onions, rosemary, white wine, and fresh peas.

Once you've extracted the meat, don't throw away the shells and other detritus; lobster remains make excellent stock. Put them in a big pot with some onions, carrots, celery, and a bay leaf or two, and simmer about 45 minutes. Lobster stock is a perfect base for fish chowder, bouillabaisse, or any seafood sauce.

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