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Boiled Lobster


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Dec 14, 2023
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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

As with most seafood, if you keep an eye on prices you can get lobster for surprisingly cheap. What’s more is that with lobster, bigger is not always better – the tastiest lobsters are right around the 1.5 lb weight. I tend to consider a max live lobster price to be $7/lb, which results in a $11 lobster cooked in the comfort of your own home.


You’ll want to use the biggest pot you have just to be safe. Fill it with water and add at least 1/2 cup of sea salt. The bottom line is that you want to simulate boiling the lobster in seawater; and in that case, keep tasting the water and adding salt until it tastes like the ocean.


As the water is heating, put your live lobster in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This makes the lobster docile and according to some scientists, this numbs the lobster so it isn’t in pain when boiled. Other scientists contend that lobsters have such simple nervous systems that they don’t feel pain, so either way I’m ethically covered, right?


Once the water is boiling rapidly, place the lobster in the water headfirst, with its top resting against the side of the pot. Reduce heat to a light boil (med/high heat), and boil uncovered using this mathematical formula: ten minutes for the first pound, four minutes for every subsequent pound. In other words, twelve minutes for a 1.5 lb lobster.


You lobster will start floating after about eight minutes, so use a wooden spoon to keep it mostly submerged. After its time is up, pull it out of the water and drain it as much as possible, and eat it immediately with melted garlic butter or mayonnaise (if you’d like – I personally prefer it without any additional condiments).

There’s another great way to cook lobster in which you parboil the little feller, cut it in half, and grill it on a barbecue while basting it with garlic butter. I’ll probably do that this summer, and will post the results online. In the meantime, you can’t go wrong with a well-boiled lobster.
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