Steamed Lobster with Parsley Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About


live lobsters, 2 female and 2 male 4 4
white wine 1 cup 250 ml
shallots, finely chopped 3 3
heavy cream ½ cup 125 ml
parsley, finely chopped 1 bunch 1 bunch
white pepper to taste to taste


  1. Lobsters require little preparation before steaming, but they should be rinsed in cold running water and then quickly and painlessly killed by inserting a sharp knife in the underside where the tail and head join. Do not kill the lobsters until the last minute; otherwise they will lose juices and flavor while waiting to go into the pot.
  2. Put the wine and shallots in a pot with a tight-fitting lid that holds the lobsters without too much leftover space. Cover with the lid and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, to infuse the shallot flavor into the wine.
  3. If you want the lobster tails to remain straight, insert skewers along the underside of the tails, between the membrane and the flesh (see photo). Add the lobsters to the simmering wine, turn the heat to high, and replace the lid. (Even though the lobsters have been killed, they may still kick around a bit, so be careful to secure the lid. It might even be necessary to hold it down during the first few minutes of cooking.)
  4. After 5 minutes of steaming, remove the lid and rotate the lobsters so that the ones on the bottom are shifted to the top of the pot (those directly in the steaming liquid cook faster). Cover again and steam for 5 minutes more. At this point, the lobsters should all be bright red. Do not remove the lid any more often than necessary or too much steam will be released and the cooking will be slowed.
  5. Remove the lid and wait 30 seconds or so for the steam to dissipate (steam can burn you very quickly). Wrap a kitchen towel around your hand and remove the lobsters from the pot. Cover the lobsters with a towel to keep them warm and prevent them from drying out while you finish the sauce.
  6. Add the cream to the cooking liquid from the lobster. Bring to a simmer.
  7. Strain the liquid mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Taste the sauce to see if it needs reduction. (It is usually quite salty, so reduction should be avoided.) Add the chopped parsley, simmer the sauce for about 1 minute to infuse the parsley flavor, and season with white pepper.
  8. Cut the lobsters lengthwise down the middle. Remove the stomach sac from each side of the head. If desired, remove the lobster from the shell.
  9. Because the parsley sauce is very thin, it is best to serve the lobster in large, flat soup bowls with the sauce either underneath it in the bowl or passed at the table in a sauceboat.


Other possibilities for converting the strained lobster steaming liquid into a sauce include:

  • Beating it with egg yolks to convert it into a sabayon, which can be left as is or finished with yogurt, herb butter, whole butter, clarified butter, or crustacean butter (for these last two, an emulsion must be in place before they are added).
  • Finishing the steaming liquid with less cream and using butter to produce a sauce with more luster and a richer consistency.
  • Thickening the sauce with hydrocolloids such as xanthan gum and lambda carrageenan and then finishing it with a small amount of butter, crustacean butter, or cream.
  • Adding a generous helping of chopped fresh herbs at the end. Herbs shape the flavor of a finished sauce in sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle ways. Fines herbes (chervil, chives, tarragon, parsley) give the sauce delicacy, finesse, and freshness, while Provençal herbs (savory, marjoram, oregano, thyme, hyssop, rosemary, and lavender) may be used in combination or alone to add their dramatic southern French associations.
  • Finishing the steaming liquid with flavored mayonnaise. The mayonnaise can be stabilized as described on Stabilized Mayonnaise. Lobster oil can be worked in at the end.