Steamed vs Boiled Lobster: Which Cooking Method Is Best?

Lobsters have been fished commerciallyin Maine since the mid 1800s. In the past 40 years, cooked lobster has become a gourmet delicacy. Its sweet tender meat has excited connoisseurs around the world. And there is nothing like the beautiful, bright red color of a freshly cooked lobster. Lots of people are scared of live lobster. In this detailed lobster cooking guide, we’ll show you the best ways to cook whole live lobsters at home.

Lobster is one of the most prized seafood delicacies, loved for its tender meat and sweet, briny flavor But before you can enjoy this luxurious shellfish, an important decision must be made – is it better to steam or boil your lobster? This age-old cooking debate has lobster lovers firmly entrenched in their preferred camp.

In this detailed guide, we’ll examine the pros, cons, and key differences between steaming and boiling lobster You’ll learn how to perfectly execute both cooking methods. We’ll also provide tips on preparing, seasoning, and serving your lobster to highlight the best qualities of each technique After reading this, you’ll be able to decide whether steaming or boiling is best for you.

Steaming Lobster

Steaming is a gentle slower cooking method that helps retain moisture texture, and flavor. Here’s an overview of steaming technique

  • Fill a large pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Use seasoned water or sea water.

  • Place a steamer basket or rack in the pot. Make sure the lobster will fit without overcrowding.

  • Once the water is rapidly boiling, place live lobster in the basket, cover, and start timing.

  • Steam for 7 minutes per pound for the first pound. Add 3 minutes per pound for each additional pound.

  • Check for doneness by looking for an opaque, pearly white interior when cracking open the body or tail.

Benefits of Steaming Lobster

  • Preserves delicate flavor and texture of the meat.

  • Less likelihood of overcooking and drying out the meat.

  • Keeps more nutrients intact compared to boiling.

  • Allows seasoning and aromatics to be added to the steaming liquid.

  • Tail meat slides out of the shell easily when served.

  • Gently coagulates the proteins resulting in a silky texture.

Downsides of Steaming Lobster

  • Takes more time than boiling.

  • Can be tricky to get timing right.

  • Need the right equipment (steamer setup).

  • Does not produce that bright red shell color that some people expect.

  • Does not infuse the meat with as much saline flavor as boiling.

Boiling Lobster

Boiling is a faster, more aggressive cooking method where the lobster is submerged and simmered in boiling hot liquid. Here are some tips for boiling lobster:

  • Use a large pot and fill with salted water. Allow at least 3 quarts of water per 1.5 pounds of lobster.

  • Bring the salted water to a rapid boil before adding lobster.

  • Gently lower live lobsters head-first into the boiling water.

  • Once returned to a boil, start timing and boil for 8-12 minutes per pound.

  • For flavor, add herbs, garlic, or citrus to the boiling water.

  • Check for doneness by looking for bright red shell and opaque interior meat.

Benefits of Boiling Lobster

  • Very quick and simple cooking method.

  • Useful for cooking large batches of lobster.

  • Bright red shell and white meat is visually appealing.

  • Draws out more saline, briny flavor from the shell.

  • Firm texture makes it easy to crack the shell and extract meat.

Downsides of Boiling Lobster

  • Can easily overcook and dry out the meat.

  • Immersed heat can toughen proteins more than steaming.

  • Not as forgiving if you need to hold for service before eating.

  • Leaches more flavor from the meat into the boiling liquid.

  • Can kill live lobsters more harshly if not lowered gently into the pot.

Comparing Steamed vs Boiled Lobster

So when it comes to choosing between steaming and boiling lobster, which method wins out? Here is a direct comparison of some key considerations:

| Steamed | Boiled
Prep Time | Longer | Faster
Cook Time | 18-20 minutes per lb | 8-12 minutes per lb
Equipment Needed | Steamer setup | Large pot
Ease of Execution | Moderate | Easy
Texture | Silky, translucent | Opague, firm
Flavor | Delicate, subtle | Enhanced brininess
Moisture Retention | Excellent | Moderate
Nutrient Retention | High | Moderate
Shell Color | Orange-red | Bright red

Choosing the Right Cooking Method

When deciding between steaming and boiling your lobster, keep these tips in mind:

  • If time is limited or cooking large amounts, boiling may be best.

  • For special occasions or perfect texture/flavor, opt for steaming.

  • If presentation is key, boiling produces that iconic red color.

  • If you’ll hold lobster after cooking, steaming is more forgiving.

  • For beginners, boiling is easier and more foolproof.

  • Steaming requires a bit more lobster cooking skill.

  • Smaller lobsters and lobster tails are great candidates for steaming.

Steaming and Boiling Tips

Here are some extra pointers to improve your results when steaming and boiling lobster:

  • For both methods, make sure lobsters are alive right before cooking.

  • Clean any debris from the shell but don’t scrub the shell.

  • Remove rubber bands on claws before cooking if desired.

  • Plunge cooked lobsters into an ice bath to stop cooking if needed.

  • Add lemon, garlic, herbs, white wine or seaweed when boiling or steaming.

  • Serve with clarified butter or aioli for dipping the meat.

  • Split lobsters before serving or provide lobster crackers and picks.

  • Don’t discard the tomalley (liver) – it’s delicious!

Preparing Perfect Lobster

Proper preparation is key to cooking lobster perfectly, whether you are steaming or boiling. Here are some tips:

  • Choose live lobsters and cook as soon as possible for optimal freshness.

  • Look for lively lobsters that curl their tails and claws when handled.

  • Store live lobsters in a ventilated box in the coldest part of your fridge until ready to cook.

  • Prior to cooking, rinse lobsters under cold running water to remove any debris.

  • Use sharp kitchen shears to split live lobsters or lobster tails before cooking.

  • Remove the small legs to prevent them from burning and overcooking.

  • Pick larger lobsters for boiling and smaller ones for steaming.

  • Pat lobsters dry thoroughly before steaming or boiling.

  • Double check your timing and doneness indicators for perfectly cooked lobster.

Time For a Lobster Feast

Hopefully this guide has helped shed light on the steaming versus boiling decision. When prepared properly, both methods can produce tender, succulent lobster worthy of any feast. Gather your ingredients, prep your lobsters, and get ready to enjoy mouthwatering shellfish. Just be ready for hot debate amongst your guests about which cooking technique reigns supreme. But as long as everyone is happy with their delicious lobster, that’s all that matters!

is it better to steam or boil lobster

How to Cook a Lobster by Steaming

First, is steaming lobster better than boiling? Not necessarily. It all comes down to how you like to cook. Whole lobsters cook more slowly when steamed than when boiled. This makes it less likely that they will overcook and gives you more control. It also cleans up better! If you want to serve whole lobster at a sit-down dinner, steam it instead.

Keep the lid on tight to keep in the steam. No, you don’t need a steamer rack. It just keeps the lobsters from getting burned on the bottom of the pot. You can also use a vegetable steamer rack or an upside colander inside the pot.

  • Put 2 inches of water in a pot and add sea salt if you’re using fresh water. You can add seaweed for extra taste if you want.
  • Crank up the heat until the water is really boiling.
  • Carefully drop your Lobsters into the pot. Cover it up tight.
  • Turn down the heat to a gentler, rolling boil once the water starts to boil again. Now, start your timer.
  • For the first pound, let the lobsters steam for 8 minutes. It will take 4 minutes longer for every extra pound you have. (Check out the Steaming Times Below for details. ).
  • Watch out for that magical moment: when your lobsters turn that bright, lovely red, they’re ready.
  • With tongs or gloves, take those steamed lobsters and either put them in water to cool off or put them in the fridge for three to five minutes.

Steaming Times:

• 8 minutes for 1 lb • 13 minutes for 2 lbs • 17 minutes for 3 lbs • 21 minutes for 4 lbs • 25 minutes for 5 lbs

Getting lobsters and clams at the same time? Put the clam bag on top of the lobsters and steam both at the same time.

For more detailed instructions and times for steaming lobsters review our complete guide.

How to Bake Lobster?

You can bake or roast a whole lobster without having to touch it. This works especially well if you want to add a crust or stuffing, though we think great lobster doesn’t need stuffing!

Here’s one of our favorite baked lobster recipes: Baked Lobster with Garlic and Herbs.

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • On the lobster’s back, make a deep, sharp cut that goes all the way through the body and tail. Remove the roe and stomach.
  • Lay the lobster shell side down on a roasting pan.
  • Brush butter or oil over the exposed lobster meat.
  • The lobster should be baked in a hot oven for 22 to 27 minutes.

For more details on how to bake whole lobsters in the oven see our complete instructions.

Is it better to steam or boil lobster?

How long does it take to steam a lobster?

Steaming lobster is much easier than you think and only takes a few minutes. Plus, unlike boiling, there is less of a mess to clean up. In just a few easy steps you will be on your way to claw cracking and butter dipping. Cover your pot tightly and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.

Is it better to boil or cook lobster?

On the downside, cooking takes longer than boiling and requires a unique pot, which not everyone may have in their kitchen. Boiling, on the other hand, is a quick and easy way to cook lobster. It’s as simple as bringing a pot of salted water to a boil, dropping in the lobster, and letting it cook for a few minutes.

Is steaming lobster better than boiling?

Steaming lobster is a more gentle cooking method than boiling. It doesn’t dilute the natural flavors of the lobster and because it is a slower way of cooking it gives you a more tender result. What do I need to steam lobster?

Can you cook lobsters in boiling water?

When you think of cooking lobsters, your brain probably thinks of boiling lobsters in a large pot of bubbling water. That’s one of the most common cooking methods because it tends to be quicker and a little easier to accomplish. However, boiling lobsters can also make them cook a lot faster.

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