Seafood Chef Reveals The Biggest Mistake You're Making When Cooking Lobster

If you're a lobster lover, you know that passion comes at a price. Ironic, if you consider that just a mere 300 years or so ago, lobsters were so cheap they were used as prison food. Times change, though, and so do prices. And in this century, if you want to indulge in your favorite crustacean, you're going to have to shell out some big bucks (and will undoubtedly feel the pinch in your pocketbook). Once you've invested big bucks in tonight's dinner, you'll want to make extra-sure you prepare it correctly. After all, it would be horrible to mess anything up with half a week's paycheck on the line. Okay, maybe just half a day's. But still. Times are tough, but your lobster shouldn't be.

In order to help you make the most of your investment, we've consulted – no, not a financial adviser (they'd tell you to buy hot dogs), but a seafood expert. Louie Bowab, the chef at LobsterAnywhere, has shared his best tips for making mistake-free lobster.

How to steam lobster

If you are cooking a single whole lobster, or perhaps just two or three, Bowab recommends steaming. He says that steaming cooks lobsters more slowly than does boiling, so there's less of a chance of overcooking. He also recommends this method because it "tends to give you a more tender lobster meat [with] less chance of it being diluted with water."

To steam lobsters the LobsterAnywhere way, find a pot large enough to hold the lobsters, then add just two inches of water plus two tablespoons of salt (preferably sea salt) for each quart of water used. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then add the lobsters. You can either place them on a rack or just add them to the pot; they will still be steamed rather than boiled since there's not enough water to submerge them. It takes 7 minutes to steam a one-pound lobster and an additional 3 minutes for each additional pound. You can also steam clams along with your lobsters if you're going for an all-out seafood extravaganza. Just place the netted bag of clams on top of the lobsters and they should be done at the same time.

How to boil lobster

Bowab recommends boiling lobster when you are cooking four or more at one time. He does say, however, that the boiling method can cook lobsters more evenly than steaming does. He also explains that "it's a high, intense heat [so] it cooks the meat quickly, making it easier to remove the shell."

According to the LobsterAnywhere website, you'll need to fill a pot large enough to hold your lobsters anywhere from one-half to two-thirds full of water, add two tablespoons of salt for each quart of water (or use seawater, should you happen to have an ocean in your back yard), then bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, you add your lobsters (carefully! They're likely to be mad, which is understandable, considering what's about to happen). Then cover the pot, return to a boil, and start timing the cooking as soon as the boiling begins. A one-pound lobster will cook in 5 to 6 minutes, a one and a half pound one takes 8 to 9 minutes, and a three-pound lobster should cook in 12 to 14 minutes.

You can also microwave lobster

If you've got lobsters to cook but no pot large enough to cook them in, it's also possible to microwave them. The LobsterAnywhere website notes that nuking your lobsters will actually steam them in their own juices, and the shell imparts extra flavor. The one downside is that you must "humanely dispatch" them before you zap them – LobsterAnywhere recommends doing so by inserting the point of a sharp chef's knife right below the lobster's eyes.

Once your lobster is sleeping with the fishes, you'll put it in a one-gallon ziplock bag along with a half a lemon (which you should "spear on the rostrum above the eyes," assuming you know what that means) and either some rockweed – should you have any to hand – or one-fourth cup of water. A one-pound lobster should be microwaved for 6 minutes, with each additional quarter-pound adding another minute to the cooking time.

How to avoid overcooking lobster

Bowab says the most important part of cooking a lobster is getting the timing right since an overcooked lobster is a sad waste of deliciousness potential. One piece of advice that may be new to many of us is the fact that, as Bowab warns, "When you take your lobsters out of the pot they will continue to cook." He says this is true whether you are boiling or steaming them, and he cautions, "If you're not careful, [the lobsters] can inadvertently become overcooked in this way and become tough or rubbery."

So how can you avoid this culinary calamity? Simple – just prepare an ice bath, then plunge the lobsters into this bath as soon as they're done cooking, Bowab says they will only need to chill out for a few minutes (during which time you can melt some butter and maybe slice up a lemon or two), then they'll be ready to eat. Don't forget your bib!