Steamed Lobster with Butter Sauce Two Ways

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

This is certainly one of life’s indulgences. As a small boy, I had a book with a picture of a lobster—I was terrified of it. It took me quite a few years before I could bring myself to eat one of those creatures. Boy, did I not know what I was missing! Then, when I ran a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard with David Ricketts, I found I wasn’t so happy having to kill several dozen lobsters every night, to order.


  • Coarse (kosher) salt or sea salt
  • 2 live lobsters ( pounds each)


    1. Bring about 3 inches of water to a rolling boil in a pot large enough to hold the lobsters. Add salt. Plunge the lobsters into the pot and cover tightly. Steam, maintaining a steady boil, for 12 or 13 minutes.
    2. To serve with Drawn Butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Continue to cook over very low heat for another 5 minutes or so. Spoon off any froth from the surface and discard. Spoon the clear butter into 2 ramekins, avoiding any sediment in the bottom of the pan. Squeeze a little lemon juice into each ramekin and serve with the lobster.
    3. To serve with Herb-Butter Sauce: Bring the shallot, wine, and vinegar to a boil in a nonreactive small saucepan or skillet. Boil, uncovered, until the mixture is nearly dry. (If using the cream, add to the saucepan and boil until thickened, usually about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.) Just before serving the sauce, place the pan over low heat. Heat the mixture for a minute or so. Add the butter, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, swirling it in with a wooden spoon or whisk. The butter should liquefy and become opaque but not melt completely. Continue adding all of the butter; turn off the heat. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and the chives. Taste and correct the seasonings, adding lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately in a bowl or 2 ramekins.
    4. With tongs, remove the lobsters from the water, letting all possible water drain back into the pot. Crack the claws with a nutcracker so they can be opened easily. Place the lobster on a work surface, with the tail facing you and top shell down. With a large chef’s knife, cut lengthwise through the middle of the tail flesh, cutting the thin shell over the flesh, plus the tail flesh in half, but without cutting through the shell underneath. Serve immediately on large plates (plus an extra plate on the table for shells), flesh side up, with a lemon half for garnish, plus the sauce of your choice. This is real living.