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Steamed Lobster (c) Cheryl Shanahan

Nothing says “Summer” to me quite like being in New England and enjoying some steamed lobster.

Steaming your own lobster is simple. Just remember: you’re working with live animals, so plan on cooking them the day you get them. If you must store them, find the coldest spot in your refrigerator (usually the bottom shelf), and don’t keep them longer than a day or two.

Steamed Lobster
1-1 1/2 fresh lobsters per person

live lobster – the feister, the better (good freshness indicator)
sea salt
butter, melted
lemon wedges (optional)

Tools you’ll need:
Lobster steamer or large pot with rack
Long tongs
Oven mitt (these suckers get hot)
Long, sharp knife
Cutting board, preferably one with a channel around the border
Large bowl (the “boneyard” for cast-off shells)
Lobster crackers (I’m talking about the metal ones to crack the shell, not Saltines)
Lobster picks (to get the meat out of the smaller sections)
Newspaper (great for covering the table if you don’t want to stink up your placemats or ruin a tablecloth)
More napkins or paper towels than you think are humanly possible
Ramekins for melted butter (or, go all out and get the ones with the burners underneath them)
Trash bags

1. Get your lobster steamer (two-part pot: bottom for water; top has perforated bottom so steam rises) OR the largest pot you have and place a rack in the bottom of it so your lobsters have a shelf on which to perch.  Add 2″ of water and about 2T of sea salt for every quart of water you put in the pot. Bring it to a rolling boil.

2. Place your lobsters in head-first and cover the pot tightly. Plan on steaming them for 8 minutes for the first pound; 3 minutes per pound thereafter. They are ready when the shells are bright red and the meat is white (NOT opaque!). You can check by slicing into one of the tails and looking under the shell. Please be careful: they get very, very hot!

3. While the lobsters are steaming, melt butter over very low heat.

4. Pull them out and place them one at a time on a cutting board (note: some people go from pot to plate directly. I’m about to describe what my family has done for the past three generations). Cut off the tail from the abdomen with the large knife (this is where a cutting board with a channel comes in handy; sometimes a lot of water is released in this stage). If you get a female, there may be some greenish or yellowish “muck,” which is roe, and while it’s not pretty, it’s not harmful. In fact, some people like eating it. I am not one of those people. Pull off both claws and the small legs. The head and the abdomen can go in the trash.

5. Place the parts you want to eat on a large plate, and pour some melted butter into a ramekin. Lemon wedges are a tasty, optional garnish.

6. You’ll need the tools of the trade (see below photo) to help you get into the claws and to pick out meat from smaller joints. Dip picked lobster in butter…and enjoy! You’ll definitely appreciate having a large bowl on the table in which to put the cast-off shells. Don’t forget to put out the trash and secure it, if your trash cans are frequented by woodland creatures. You want the stink out of your house, and you don’t want to pick up the mess in your yard the day after.

A couple of my grandmother’s tools, which I still use to this day: lobster claw cracker and pick