I Made This – Boston – Steaming and Stuffing “Bugs”

2011 March 3

As you may surmise from my header photo I love me some crustaceans and while visiting my best friend G-Bird she asked if I wanted anything special for dinner. I naturally had to request Maine Lobster or “Bugs” as they like to call them in Beantown. I know New Englanders hate that nickname but fair is fair, I’m sure lobsters don’t like being called bugs. No other lobster in the world compares to the sweet succulence of this amazing cold water beast. Mexico and the Caribbean can have their puny little clawless runts.

Mr. G-Bird (husband of G-Bird) is an expert “Bug” wrangler, steamer and stuffer so I asked if he would teach us his master technique. Mr. G-Bird being a born and bred New Englander is full of knowledge and expertise so look and learn….

Boston Lobster Bag2

First up you gotta get you some bugs.  G-Bird and I went to the local grocer and she asked for 3 Chicken Lobsters.  Chicken Lobsters?  I had to ask.  A Chicken Lobster is the smallest legal size that can be caught.  Typically they are around 1 – 1 1/4 pound each and are said to be sweeter than a larger one.   So remember big is not better here.

Boston lobster pot

Next you’ll need a large pot to steam the babies.  Add about an inch of water to boil.  As Mr. G-Bird says you want to give them a bath not drown them.

Boston sleep lobster

While your water boils, rinse off your bugs and put them to sleep.  Mr. G-Bird says that by stroking them between their eyes you can put them to sleep and it’s nicer that way.  Seriously experts generally agree that lobsters do not have the complex nervous system required to feel pain.  One reason I’ve been squeamish about steaming a lobster is rumors that they will squeal in the pot while they die.  Well, that was not the case.  Once the water was boiling we dropped the bugs in their steam bath covered the pot and let them cook for about 12 minutes without a peep.

Boston Lobster StuffingWhile your bugs cook you can put together your stuffing.  Here are your ingredients.  You’ll want to start by melting the stick of butter and putting that aside.  Some will be used for dipping and some for the stuffing.  In a bowl add your can of clams with juice and all and enough bread crumbs to get it to a good stuffing consistency. Now add 1/4 to 1/2 of the melted butter and season to your liking.

Boston Lobster SteamedMmmmm, looking good.  Now drain your lobsters and let them cool for a bit

Boston Lobster Steamed CutOnce they’re cool enough you’ll want to slice them straight down the middle, but don’t cut all the way through the back shell.Boston Lobster Tamali Roe2

Now you’ll want to clean out the guts otherwise known as the tomalley or tamali. That green stuff you see is the tamali.  This is the liver and pancreas of the lobster used for filtering impurities so you’ll want to avoid eating this.  A little left behind won’t hurt you but get out as much as you can.  We got lucky with some lady lobsters and that red stuff you see is yummy lobster roe.  You’ll want to keep that.  Mr. G-Bird took out the roe and mixed it in with the stuffing.   Your clean lobster is now ready to be stuffed and put under the broiler for just a couple of minutes to brown.

Boston Lobster Stuffed
Et Viola! Mr. G-Birds amazing stuffed Maine Lobster!!!

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Gloria permalink
    March 4, 2011

    We loved seeing you. Great pictures. Miss you so much!!!

  2. HJA permalink
    March 4, 2011

    I went to school in Boston and lived there for another 8 years. Never heard a lobster referred to as a “bug.” Recipie is excellent!

  3. Canela permalink
    March 4, 2011

    Thanks HJA! Maybe it’s a regional or family thing but for as long as I’ve known Mr. G-Bird that’s what he’s called them.

  4. March 4, 2011

    1. They’re bugs in our family, too, but I didn’t realize anyone else called them that.
    2. We usually eat them just as they come out of the pot, with butter & lemon. They’re better eaten at home, with plenty of paper towels and a handy place to wash up.
    3. If you say Beantown, you are indelibly marked as a New Yorker.
    4. Pound-and-a-halfs are every bit as tasty, but a little more expensive. ($10/pound? Yipe!)
    5. The squealing, if you hear it, is steam escaping from the shell.

  5. Canela permalink
    March 4, 2011

    Thanks Mitch. Yeah I usually like mine naked as well with just lemon however I must admit the stuffing was tasty. Not a New Yorker (opposite coast) but just couldn’t resist using the phrase. I also like to use ‘Frisco to get a rise out of my northern neighbors.

  6. Jack permalink
    March 4, 2011

    I prefer 7-8 minutes in boiling water over steaming for 12. Lobsters pair well with corn on the cob; Reuse the water to boil the corn and coat with the left over butter that has picked up lobster flavor.

    I assume you added garlic salt to the dipping butter?

  7. Tagore Smith permalink
    March 5, 2011

    I don’t think it’s true that experts agree that lobsters don’t have enough nervous system to feel pain. In fact, purely as a matter of nervous system they almost certainly do. The question is whether or not they have much subjective experience. David Foster Wallace has an interesting article on the subject- his neuroscience is a bit off in places, I think, but it’s worth reading. It’s worth remembering that the “experts” have been willing to argue that animals like cats and dogs don’t “really” feel pain.

    Anyway, I think it’s better to err on the side of caution. It’s easy enough to kill the lobsters before you cook them. Just take a sharp knife, drive it between the eyes until the tip meets the cutting board, and then rock the blade toward yourself until it meets the cutting board. If you’re squeamish about this remember that the alternative is boiling the thing alive.

    The squealing is half a myth. Lobsters lack vocal cords, so they definitely don’t squeal. But the steam escaping their joints can make a high-pitched whistling sound whether they are alive or dead when put in the pot.

  8. Peter permalink
    March 5, 2011

    I love lobster and this looks absolutely delicious. One comment, I grew up in the Boston area and lived in New England for most of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever heard lobsters referred to as bugs. Must be something specific to your buddies up there.

  9. March 30, 2011

    Found this site, tried the recipe. Worked great. Thanks.

  10. Trish Reeve permalink
    October 15, 2011

    You can also get them drunk on white wine.. let them soak in it so that they get drunk… and then put them in a pot of cold water & heat slowly…

    So, there’s lots of humane ways

    I like the idea of getting them sloshed & then slowly warming up the water.. seems less *severe*

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