The Important Timing Tip To Remember For Steaming A Whole Lobster

Freshly steamed lobster
Freshly steamed lobster - Fudio/Getty Images

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Unlike whole chickens, roast beef, or even a leg of lamb, a lot of people can get pretty far in life without ever cooking a live lobster. If you don't eat a lot of seafood, or you didn't grow up near the ocean, most of us are only faced with a lobster when it's already cooked on a plate at a restaurant. At some point, however, if you like the briny shellfish, you'll want to cook a few at home, and if you don't know what you're doing it's pretty easy to overcook or undercook your clawed crustaceans. Properly cooking lobster is easy, you just have to cook by time and weight. For the first pound of lobster, you should steam it for 10 minutes. For every pound after that, steam it for an additional 6 minutes.

Cooking lobsters — or any seafood — involves a little bit of art and science, but it isn't hard. Steaming lobster is a lot like boiling eggs. They're both very time and temperature-sensitive, but because they have hard shells you can't exactly stick a thermometer in to see where things stand. So instead, you just need to set a timer and be ready to pull the lobster out at exactly the right time. If you follow the simple cooking rules, you'll get perfectly tender lobster meat every time.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

Steam Has A Constant Temperature

Cooked lobster claws
Cooked lobster claws - Gaffera/Getty Images

If you've gone to the fish market and brought a few live lobsters home, you've probably wondered which method is better for cooking your shellfish: boiling or steaming. There is no wrong answer here because you'll get similar results regardless of which method you choose. Steaming, however, is fast, and you don't have to mess around with a huge, heavy pot of water. All you need is a big pot that can hold your lobsters and about 2 inches of water on the bottom. You can place the lobsters on a steaming rack inside your pot if you have one, but this isn't essential.

Steaming, just like boiling, happens at a very specific temperature -- 212 degrees Fahrenheit -- so no matter what size lobsters you have you'll always be able to use the rule of steaming one pound for 10 minutes. This is a job for a timer, because it's easy to walk away and forget when you started steaming, and you don't want overcooked lobster because it'll get stringy and tough. Lobster isn't a cheap dish, but steaming is pretty easy as long as you pay attention to the time. If you don't have a kitchen timer, always be sure to open the timer app on your phone before you drop your lobsters in the pot.

Do The Steaming Math

Cooked lobster in a steamer basket
Cooked lobster in a steamer basket - Grafvision/Getty Images

It's easy to remember how long to steam a 1-pound lobster (10 minutes), but if you're not great at math, things might get a little murky when your lobsters get bigger. You can always round up by 30 seconds and your lobster will usually come out ok. A 2-pound lobster, for example, should be steamed for about 16 minutes, which is 10 minutes plus the extra 6 minutes for the second pound. Lobsters are also commonly sold at 1 ¼ pounds, which should be steamed for 12 minutes. This accounts for the first pound at 10 minutes plus a little extra time for the extra ¼ pound. A 1 ½-pound lobster should be steamed for 13 minutes, and a 1 ¾-pound lobster should be steamed for about 15 minutes, and so on.

Once the timer goes off, grab your lobster out of the pot with a long pair of tongs and avoid exposing your hand to the hot steam. They're either ready to serve while the lobsters are nice and hot with butter and lemon, or you can shock them in an ice water bath if you plan to make a lobster salad or arrange on a chilled shellfish tower.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.