Seasoned with a tarragon-infused butter and lemon juice, this simple lobster salad is so unlike familiar mayo-laden ones. Serve it over Boston lettuce leaves and you have an elegant lunch or first course—a healthy version of the famed lobster roll.
Game plan: You can prepare this recipe in advance through step 4. Refrigerate the lobster meat and broth separately until you’re ready to finish the dish.
This salad was featured as part of our Valentine’s Day All-Star Recipes.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hr
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 (1-1/2-pound) whole live lobsters
- 3 whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 bay leaf
- 1 cup water, plus more for steaming the lobsters
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups torn Boston lettuce leaves (from about 1 head), washed and dried
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Fill a large pot with a tightfitting lid with 1 inch of water and stir in the measured salt. Add a steamer rack to the pot. (If you don’t have a steamer rack, lightly bunch a long piece of foil so that it looks like a rope. Then make a figure eight out of the foil rope and set it in the pot.)
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the lobsters, head first, to the pot, cover, and return the water to a full boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil until the lobsters are bright red, about 14 minutes from the time they go into the pot. Check their doneness by pulling on an antenna: If it comes out with no resistance, the lobster is done. Remove the lobsters to a rimmed baking sheet and let them sit until cool enough to handle.
- Using your hands, twist and separate the tail from the body. Twist and remove both of the claws where they meet the lobster body; set the claws aside. Discard the head and torso.
- Starting with the tail, remove the small, wispy flippers on the underside of the shell. Using a fork, pierce the exposed tail meat and slowly twist and pull it out of the shell in one piece. Rinse any white debris off of the tail meat and set it aside on a cutting board. Reserve the shell of the tail.
- Twist the claws and separate them from the legs; set the legs aside. Gently wiggle and pull the smaller part of the pincer shell off each claw. Using a seafood cracker, gently crack the claws, remove the meat, and set it aside on the cutting board. Crack the legs, remove the meat, and set it aside on the cutting board. Reserve the shells from the claws and the legs. Repeat with second lobster.
- Check the meat for any cartilage or shell and discard it. Coarsely chop the reserved meat and place it in a medium bowl. (You should have about 2 cups.)
- Place the reserved lobster shells, peppercorns, bay leaf, and measured water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to 1 tablespoon. Discard the large shells and strain the lobster broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a small saucepan.
- Place the small saucepan with the lobster broth over medium-low heat and whisk in one piece of the butter at a time until all of the butter is incorporated. Add the tarragon and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the lemon juice and stir to combine. Fold in the reserved lobster meat and cook until just heated through. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place the lettuce in a large bowl, add the olive oil, and toss to combine. Season with a small pinch of salt and pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice and toss again. Divide the lettuce among 4 plates. Top each lettuce bed with warm lobster meat. If you choose, drizzle with some of the sauce remaining in the pot. Serve immediately.