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How To Cook a Lobster Whole

When buying a lobster, look for a medium-sized one that feels heavy for its size, indicating good muscle quality, with all legs and pincers intact and not hanging limply. The lobster must be alive, show lots of muscular activity, such as tail flapping, and there must be no frothing at the mouth, which can indicate stress. To store live lobsters before cooking, place in a large container in the bottom of the fridge with a damp tea towel over them. Do not remove the elastic bands from the pincers until after cooking. Only buy cooked lobsters from a trusted source. You can either cook lobsters whole, then remove the meat, or halve and grill them.

Before cooking the live lobster, place it in the freezer for 20 minutes to sedate it.

  1. Take the lobster from the freezer, place on a board and uncurl the tail and legs. Place a tea towel over the tail and hold on to the tail. To cut through the head, locate the cross on top of the carapace/body shell and place the point of a large, sharp knife in the centre of the cross with the blade towards the head. Push down and then back firmly so the knife penetrates the shell and cuts through the head.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of well salted water to the boil (about 25–30g salt per 1 litre of water).
  3. Place the lobster head first into the boiling water, ensuring it is completely covered in water, then put the lid on the pan and bring the water back to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook gently for about 8–10 minutes per 500g, until the lobster turns red and the tail tightens against the body. If cooking more than 2 lobsters, cook in batches. Once cooked, remove the lobster from the water and leave to drain well as it cools, before further preparation.


Note: You can use a court bouillon to cook the lobster, or more spicy flavours such as ginger, star anise or lemongrass can be added to the water.