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Weekend Chef: Grilled lobsters

Posted 1:41am on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

Valentine’s Day is almost here -- has it already been a year? Last year, I fixed lobster tails for that special meal, which really impressed my wife. This year I decided to do whole lobsters!

Wait, whole LIVE lobsters?! Yep, the live ones you see in the fish tanks at the grocery store. I picked up two at Central Market. Now, if you feel a little squeamish about this whole live lobster thing, you still could do just tails. Here is my lobster tail recipe from last year with tips on how to find the best tails.

So are you still with me? Great! If this is your first time fixing live lobsters, there are a few things you need to know, like how to pick a good one. First thing I look for in the lobster tank is a lively lobster with no barnacles. When the lobster is lifted from the tank, the tail should flap and curl up under the body.

Fresh water will kill lobsters fast, so when transporting the lobsters home, place them on top of a well-sealed bag of ice. If traveling a long distance, it is good to cover them with a damp newspaper or towel so they do not dry out.

Once home, transfer the lobsters to an open container and cover with a damp newspaper/towel and place in the refrigerator. Lobsters should be cooked that day. Ten to 15 minutes before I cook the lobsters, I put them into the freezer to numb them, something Alton Brown does when he fixes lobster.

I am grilling these lobsters (kind of my thing). When you're grilling whole lobsters, I find that it is better to partially cook them first by boiling or steaming them before putting them out on the grill to help keep them from drying out. It is also good to crack the claws before grilling or the claws might not get done at the same time as the tail.

Normally I would steam or par-boil the lobster in saltwater before grilling, but this being extra special for Valentine's Day, I decided to steam them in sake with kombu (seaweed) before grilling.

Grilled Lobster


  • Sake or water
  • 2 to 3 strips of kombu or a tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 1 to 1½ -pound whole live lobsters
  • ½ stick salted butter
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking Directions

Place lobsters in a shallow pan and place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Fill a large pot with 1 inch of sake (or water), and then add kombu strips (or salt).

Bring sake to a boil over high heat. Add the lobsters to the pot headfirst, then cover with a lid. Reduce heat to medium and steam lobsters for around 6 minutes to partially cook the lobsters, then remove lobsters with tongs.

Transfer the lobsters to a pan with crushed ice or ice water to stop the cooking.

Add butter to a small bowl and microwave for 15 to 30 seconds to melt. Add lemon juice, parsley and olive oil to bowl and stir.

Once lobsters are cool to the touch, place on cutting board shell side down and cut in half lengthwise with a large knife or cleaver. Start with the knife tip at the center of the lobster cutting down to the end of the tail, then repeat towards the head. If you have trouble cutting through the shell with a knife you can use kitchen shears.

Clean out the tomalley (greenish liver) from the body, then crack the claws by hitting them with the back end of a heavy knife.

Brush the lobsters with the butter/olive oil mixture, then place meat side down on the grill for 5 minutes. Flip to shell side down, another brush of olive oil mixture and leave them on another 5 minutes. Pull lobsters from the grill and serve.

I also roasted some small red potatoes to serve with the lobsters; you can check out the recipe here.

The lobster turned out great! You could actually taste a little hint of the sake and the taste of the ocean from the kombu, which paired off nicely with the sweet lobster meat. Add the char flavor from grilling in the shell and you have a mighty tasty lobster!

Be sure to check out the slideshow above for step-by-step pictures and Happy Valentine's Day!

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