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Cook Up the Cape and Islands’ Favorite Fare

For many vacationers, no vacation on Cape Cod or on the Islands would be complete without lobster. While most seafood markets will cook the lobsters for you, many vacation rentals come equipped with lobster steamers, so you can cook your own. Steam them in a few inches of water for about 20 minutes to the pound or until they are red but retain a slight amount of dark splotching on the shell. Serve with fresh local sweet corn and plenty of melted butter.

Lobster Dinner
Steamed Lobster Dinner

You can replicate a lobster bake, with sausage, potatoes, clams and corn, without all the work of digging a pit. All you need is a gas or charcoal grill. (See our recipe at the end of this article.)

There are two types of clams -- hard shell and soft shell.

Soft shelled clams are also called "steamers" and are found only in New England and the Chesapeake Bay. The live in "the flats," the somewhat mucky sand left behind at low tide. You’ll literally dig with your hands and pull them loose.

Hard shelled clams, also known as quahogs (CO-hogs), live in bays and along beaches in the sand just beneath the water. They are harvested by raking. Licenses are required by all towns in order to harvest shellfish.

Both types of clams can be easily steamed in an inch or so of water, if you do not have a proper steamer. It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll know the clams are cooked when their shells begin to open up.

Cape Cod Steamers

Cape Cod Lobster Bake Prepared on the Grill (serves 4)

  • 4 Cape Cod lobsters, about 1 1/4 pounds each
  • 4 ears sweet corn, shucked except for innermost leaves
  • 2 lbs steamer clams, cleaned
  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned
  • 1 lb linguica (or other firm sausage), cut into four pieces
  • 12 small red potatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 lbs fresh seaweed (or add 2 teaspoons of salt to cooking water and aluminum foil)

In a large roasting pan or steamer, place one-inch layer of seaweed or a layer of crumpled aluminum foil or on a rack.

Parboil the potatoes. Shuck the corn except for the innermost leaves.

Place lobster on seaweed or aluminum foil; arrange corn and sausage between the lobster and the sides of the pan.

Place clams, mussels, and potatoes gently over the lobster. Keep the top of the pan contents level.

Cover with remaining seaweed and add water (salted if no seaweed) over the top.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil or a lid and place on preheated grill to cook. Make sure the grill is very hot.

When steam becomes visible, cook covered for 20 minutes. Check potatoes for doneness -- if they are cooked, the lobsters should be also. (Properly cooked lobsters should be red with just a slight bit of black mottling on the shell.)

Remove from heat, but leave covered for 5 more minutes.

Serve with lemon and melted butter.

About Elizabeth Weedon

About Elizabeth Weedon: I have worked for since 2008, and I've been a loyal homeowner listed on the site since early 1998. An enthusiastic member of the Homeowner Support Team, I provide fellow Cape and Islands vacation rental homeowners with advice about online marketing and rental management techniques to ensure them a successful rental experience each season. In addition to phone and email support to our homeowners, I also create and edit much of the content on our website, as well as our Homeowner Blog and monthly newsletters. I am also the Press & PR Coordinator for the company, responsible for drafting our press releases and responding to press inquiries and interviews. I grew up summering on the Vineyard, where I have managed my family's rental home since the mid-1980's, and I'm passionately devoted to the Island. My husband and I live in Wellesley where we have raised our 2 grown kids and our Black Lab, Maisie.