by Mark McNulty.
In my previous post, I commented on the cod’s importance to New England’s history and economic growth. The cod does not stand alone in this distinction, however. One could easily argue that the lobster has been equally important to our region. This gift from the sea was considered “food for the poor” in colonial times, reserved only for prisoners and servants, but today it has grown into a favorite delicacy around the world.
New England lobsters were once so plentiful they were almost always caught by hand along the shoreline until about 1800. While they are not that plentiful in 2014, they remain a sustainable natural resource and source of income for hundreds of local fishermen. Often the lobster is overlooked as a dinner option because of high prices associated with it. In reality, the costs are starting to even out. The lobsters I purchased from the Brant Rock Fish Market this week were about $9 per pound… while haddock was about $15 per pound. You can do the math. Also, by shopping at a local fish market, I know I am supporting lobster boats in my community.
I also know many people who pass on lobster because of cholesterol and sodium concerns. While it is true lobster has more cholesterol and sodium than most seafood, it can still be included as part of any healthy diet. Lobster offers us many benefits as a very low calorie, low fat, high protein food with no carbohydrates. It is packed with B vitamins and vitamin E. Fresh lobster is also loaded with many minerals and it has been linked to improved bone health, cell development, and brain function. While those who already have high cholesterol or blood pressure might want to consume lobster in moderation, most of us can take advantage of these many health benefits without worry.
The one thing that amazes me most about lobster, however, is how many people I meet who do not know how to cook them! Often, they admit they are just too nervous to cook them, afraid they will mess it up. Cooking a lobster should never be a cause for anxiety. It is incredibly simple and I am here to help with simple directions:
Basic Steamed Lobster
- Live lobsters
- Sea salt (about 1 tsp)
- In a large pot, bring about an inch of water to a boil. Add the sea salt to this boiling water. The amount really depends on taste and the size of your pot.
- Cut the rubber bands off the lobster claws. Place the lobsters into the pot, cover, and let simmer so the steam cooks the lobster.
- Steam the lobsters about 8 minutes for the first pound, then 3-4 additional minutes for each pound above that. Therefore, a pound and a half lobster should cook for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lobsters and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- Take comfort in knowing it is very hard to undercook a lobster. Any lobster two pounds or under is usually cooked by the time the shell turns red.
- You will notice lobster is often labeled “hard shell” or “soft shell” at the store. This relates to the lobster’s process of molting its shell to grow a new, larger one. A soft shell (new shell) lobster will be easier to eat but the meat won’t completely fill the shells. A hard shell lobster is more work but the meat will be packed right up against the shell.
- Boiling a lobster can be a little more messy and you use more energy to boil a larger volume of water, but the steps and timing are the same as above.
- If you are concerned about sodium or cholesterol you can skip the salt in the water and avoid dipping the lobster in melted butter, as many people do.
- Need to know how to eat a lobster? This site gives great step-by-step directions: How to Eat a Lobster
- Lobster is available all year long. Don’t feel like you need to wait until summer to savor this New England treat!
Feedback, comments, and questions are always welcome!
Do you have a favorite lobster dish?
Mark McNulty is a local teacher and children’s writer who is currently a stay-at-home Dad. A lifelong resident of the South Shore and avid fisherman, Mark has developed a passion for local seafood. He has often said “If it swims, I’ll eat it.” This includes active support for local fish markets and fishermen. Mark is also an avid Boston sports fan. His other interests include hiking, travel, cycling, and archery. His blog, The New American Dad, is a helpful resource for all mothers and fathers and was recently recognized as Top Blog by Mommy Poppins Boston. His family currently lives in Pembroke.