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JoNorvelleWalker

Pasteurized Rock Lobster Sous Vide

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I need help.  I came home from the store today with an approximately 6 oz frozen "lobster tail" -- one of those warm water crayfish like things, not real lobster tail.  My thought was to bag it up and cook it sous vide from the frozen state.

 

After a couple hours study I was more confused than ever.  Some cook lobster tail to what I would charitably call raw.  The last two "lobster tails" I had (from the same package, cooked on different days) made me rather sick, hence my preference for pasteurization.  They sure were good though.

 

I've read that one should not cook lobster between 55 and 60 deg C or the meat will become mushy.  Not sure if this applies to the creature that I have or only to real lobsters.  Assuming it does, looking at Douglas Baldwin's tables, it is thus only practical to pasteurize above 60 deg C.  Will this ruin my meat?

 

All in all I would rather err on the side of over cooked.  I'm thinking now of 61 deg C for four hours for the frozen tail.  What say you?

 

Or should I defrost first and remove the shell?

 

 

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ChrisZ   

I've read that one should not cook lobster between 55 and 60 deg C or the meat will become mushy.

I read that in The Fat Duck Cookbook, and I know I've passed that info on in these forums. It's because of enzymes in the seafood which become more active at those temperatures. I don't know how well it applies to something that's been deep frozen.

I would guess that 4 hours is way too long. You should be able to measure the size of the tail and use a table to calculate the cooking time and the time to pasteurisation. There are tables in modernist cuisine, I'm sure there are similar tables online or calculated with sous vide apps.

Long cooking times suit meats with collagen, AFAIK there's no collagen to break down in lobster tails and you don't want to overcook them. I don't see any benefit in cooking for longer than the pasteurisation time and I'm guessing that's much less than 4 hours.

Having had severe food poisoning I can understand your desire for pasteurisation but with some foods it's just a risk. I still eat sushi and accept the fish is raw, I would be more worried about ruining a lobster tail than I would be about getting sick from one (but I haven't had your exact experience, although any food poisoning isn't pleasant).

The sous vide dash app is about $5, a worthy investment to avoid ruining a lovely piece of seafood.


Edited by ChrisZ (log)

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The tail is about two inches thick, so I took the 50mm time from Baldwin's table Pasteurization Time for Lean Fish at 60 deg C:  3 hours.  I then tacked on an hour to account for being frozen to get 4 hours.

 

If I thawed the tail, removed the shell, and cut the tail in half, the pasteurization time at 60 deg C would be closer to an hour.

 

I possess no device on which to run an app.

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rotuts   

pasteurization temp is 130 // 55.  at that temp, it just takes longer than at a higher temp to deal with the buggers.

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KennethT   

I haven't had much success with any form of lobster SV - and I've tried many times and temp combos. I find the best and most consistent way to do it is the Eric Ripert method from A Return to Cooking: simmer the tails for 5 min. then take off the heat and let steep in the hot liquid (he makes a veggie broth with some champagne vinegar) for about 20 min. more.

If you want to shell the tail before cooking (I would do this for SV, but not for simmer method) you can pour boiling water over the tail, and then the shell comes off pretty easily with some kitchen shears.

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It's generally not possible to pasteurize seafood sous vide as the time and temps involved would overcook them. 

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btbyrd   

It's generally not possible to pasteurize seafood sous vide as the time and temps involved would overcook them. 

 

What he said. If you're really concerned about getting sick from seafood, conventional cooking is a better choice than low temperature cooking.

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dcarch   

Isn't there a difference seafood cooked at 212 F v.s. 160 F?

 

dcarch

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btbyrd   

You don't have to boil it. 160 is too high for pork or chicken and way too high for lobster, especially if you're going to hold it there for long enough to pasteurize. I've cooked lobster tails a couple of times SV and have been happy with the results, but I blanched them first (for 2 minutes) and then chilled in an ice bath to get them to pull away from the shell, then used kitchen shears to get the meat out. Then I poached in butter in a bag at 125 for 20 minutes (they were moderately sized, maybe 6oz whenever I've done them). Shellfish contain enzymes that will break down the tissues at low temps for extended cooking times. The solution is either to cook low and fast (the usual SV method) or to cook high and fast. The problem with cooking high and fast is that you can toughen the meat, but that's mostly an issue with larger cuts or portions. A 6oz portion should be small enough to be steamed for a few minutes without getting overcooked. Huge shellfish are more of a problem, but that's another story.

 

I'll add as an addendum that SV is a fantastic way to reheat pre-cooked crab and lobster, which is much of what you'll find in your average grocery store. They're steamed once they're pulled off the boat and then flash-frozen. Many people will steam them again to reheat, but this releases too much flavor to the ambient environment and runs the risk of overcooking the product since they've been cooked once already. I've reheated (shelled) crab and lobster in a bag with butter with great success... it's not as good as cooking a fresh item, but it's as close as you're going to get cooking from frozen. Holding the meat at 115-120F for 20-30 minutes is just fantastic.

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EnriqueB   

By using a frozen tail you eliminate risk of parasites (inside).

 

By blanching 1 or 2 minutes before cooking, as btbyrd suggests, you pasteurize the surface.

 

So the only reason left to pasteurize to core is possible inner contamination by freeze-resistant pathogens like bacteria. In an intact tail, bacteria should only be in the surface. If you cook for a short time at a low (non-pasteurization) core temperature you may possibly have some risk, but it should be pretty low if you are following the two previous precautions.

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weedy   

If you can eat rare (or raw?) tuna, you can eat cooked but not technically "pasteurised" lobster "safely".

 

If you're immuno-compromised then you shouldn't, probably, be eating either.

 

 

I've been very happy with a quick par boil to facilitate removal from the shells, and then butter 'poaching' in the bag SV for 20 mins or so.

 

There's nothing wrong with a 'conventional' broiled lobster, but that butter poached version gets a texture that's hard to beat.

 

 

straight steamed or boiled lobster bores me to tears... I always think it's something New Englanders think they have to say they prefer... like the Red Socks. :rolleyes:

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KennethT   

If you can eat rare (or raw?) tuna, you can eat cooked but not technically "pasteurised" lobster "safely".

 

If you're immuno-compromised then you shouldn't, probably, be eating either.

 

 

I've been very happy with a quick par boil to facilitate removal from the shells, and then butter 'poaching' in the bag SV for 20 mins or so.

 

There's nothing wrong with a 'conventional' broiled lobster, but that butter poached version gets a texture that's hard to beat.

 

 

straight steamed or boiled lobster bores me to tears... I always think it's something New Englanders think they have to say they prefer... like the Red Socks. :rolleyes:

What temp do you use when butter poaching SV for 20 min? I've tried a bunch of different combinations, but have never been satisfied with the resulting texture....

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lesliec   

Modernist Cuisine suggests somewhere around 50-54°C.

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btbyrd   

I go for 50C. It sounds low in comparison to beef, chicken, or pork but the proteins in fish and shellfish denature at a lower temp. The results aren't anything I'd "charitably call raw."

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It's now or never, the lobster tail is defrosted!  I was all set just to give up and pressure cook it, but then I wouldn't learn anything.  I am struck that Cook's Illustrated -- but apparently no one else -- calls for cooking lobster tail to an internal temperature of 175 deg F/79.4 deg C.  Has anyone tried 175?

 

For the most part I can't eat rare fish and shellfish, though it has more to do with my gag reflex than any health concerns.  I tend to cook my fish to crispy, except trout.  But I have been known to enjoy a raw oyster washed down with enough stuff.

 

I plan to take the advice of pouring boiling water over the tail to get the shell off, then an ice bath.  Then a warm shower for me.  But I still cannot decide what temperature to set the Anova.

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Thanks, everyone!  The tail is blanched and shelled and bagged with butter, and in the pot at 62 deg C for two hours.

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Taste was OK, texture was terrible.  I could best describe the texture as meally.  The cooking time, it turns out, was four hours, not two.  This was not intentional.  I am incompetent, in a lot of pain, and trying to work out optimum Margarita ratios.  My coleslaw and roast potatoes, on the other hand, were wonderful.

 

Next time, if there is a next time, I think I would go with a much hotter bath temperature.

 

At least I hope I shan't get sick.

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weedy   

that's plenty "hot"

 

but, as you found out with the 'mealy-ness', way too LONG

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gfweb   

It's now or never, the lobster tail is defrosted!  I was all set just to give up and pressure cook it, but then I wouldn't learn anything.  I am struck that Cook's Illustrated -- but apparently no one else -- calls for cooking lobster tail to an internal temperature of 175 deg F/79.4 deg C.  Has anyone tried 175?

 

For the most part I can't eat rare fish and shellfish, though it has more to do with my gag reflex than any health concerns.  I tend to cook my fish to crispy, except trout.  But I have been known to enjoy a raw oyster washed down with enough stuff.

 

I plan to take the advice of pouring boiling water over the tail to get the shell off, then an ice bath.  Then a warm shower for me.  But I still cannot decide what temperature to set the Anova.

175 F is pretty hot. At 175 a steak is past well-done.

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