How to Cook a Lobster


Here are some secrets to cooking lobster from one of America's most famous lobster cooks, Bertha Nunan, from the Lobster Hut in Cape Porpoise, Maine.

During summer, the Hut serves as much as 700 pounds of lobster a night. It seems a Nunan lobster is something no one's taste buds can forget. To make your own great-tasting lobster, here again are Nunan's tips.

  • “When you buy lobsters,” she says, “you should know that from winter to summer the lobsters are hard-shelled. They're packed full of meat then, and you need fewer lobsters for a pound of meat if you're making stew. But I prefer them when they're soft-shelled. They're sweeter then.”
  • “The secret to cooking lobsters is not to murder them. Give them a nice, slow, respectable way out. Don't put them in boiling water, and don't drown them in too much water.”
  • “Boiling them in a lot of water just boils their flavor out, and too much water waterlogs them. I put in two inches of water, whether I'm cooking two lobsters or 14. I take a salt container and with the spout open I pour it three times around the pot, then, plop! at the end (about three teaspoons). When the water is boiling, put in the lobsters, put the lid on, and steam them for 20 minutes. Not a minute less or a minute more.”
  • “When they're done, draw up your butter and serve the lobster with a dish of vinegar as well. Now the next step is what a lot of people, and practically all restaurants, ignore. It's why people tell me our lobsters taste the best of any they ever had.”
  • “I always wash the pot after cooking each lobster. Lobsters are scavengers, and they can get pretty greasy from the bait. Look in the pot the next time you cook them and you'll see a sediment from the shell. So I always put in fresh salted water for every batch of lobsters.”
  • “I'll never stop being surprised at what some people will do to a lobster. Some folks, to save time, precook their lobsters. When people arrive, they throw them in boiling water for a minute. That's the worst thing you can do. The lobster just fills with water. If you're eating lobster in a restaurant and when you crack it open water spurts everywhere, you can bet they just threw a precooked lobster in boiling water.”

Are you a lobster lover? Tell us your best lobster experiences and any cooking secrets! (Just post comment below.)

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The best lobster I ever

The best lobster I ever had??? Was sitting at my mothers kitchen table in Nova Scotia eating as many as I could handle.

Totally agree with the chefs

Totally agree with the chefs comments!
But what is the side of vinigar for?

The idea is to dip the

The Editors's picture

The idea is to dip the lobster pieces in vinegar and then the butter. It helps balance the richness. We have found that many people practice this method and recommend trying different types of vinegar from plain old white vinegar to champagne vinegar.

Best lobster I ever had was

Best lobster I ever had was at a little sports bar in Wrentham, Ma called Tom's Tavern (unfortunately now out of business). It had a nice soft shell, no water in it and it had the sweetest most succulent meat you've ever tasted. You could cut through the tail like butter!