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Problem with lobster tail


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I have been trying few times to make a simple lobster tail dish, but all were not good.

The lobster tail was still though (chewy?) and worse, it was tasteless (not enough lobster taste).

 

Here how I made it:

 

2 fresh still live lobster, each about 800 - 900 grams in weight

 

To get the tail, I boil the live lobster in hot rolling boiling water until it stop moving, about 3 minutes. Yes, I don't dare to kill it instantly with knife.

 

Then immeditaly put it under cold tap water until it is cold to handle (and I don't see steam out of it). 

 

The lobster meat would be still quite raw (un-cooked) this way, after boiling.

 

Take all the meat, put the lobster tail in vaccum bag with a little bit unsalted butter.

The lobster claws meat were put in other bag, but sous vide together.

 

Sous vide (Annova):

# first experiment: 55C for 30 minutes

# second experiment: 60C for 45 minutes

 

Before serving, I would reheat by dipping in warm water (about 40 - 50C) for a few minutes.

Put some sauce in it, simple garlic butter sauce.

 

That's all.

 

Me and my wife were not satisfied, the tail were though (chewy) and kind of tasteless. No problem with the sauce obviously. But when compared to the lobster claws, the claws were good! The second experiment at 60C for 45minutes, the claws texture were nice and very strong lobster taste.

 

Any idea to "correct" this lobster tail? Different sous vide temperature / time? Different technique?

 

Should I choose "smaller" size? The place where I bought the live lobster they also have 500 - 600 gram and 600-700 gram in size. I read that bigger = thougher (chewier)!

 

Next Valentine Day would be the third attempt :)

 

Thanks.

Edited by Josh71 (log)
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My friend who was born in Bar Harbor, Maine had this to say.

Many problems:
 
1) THEY BOILED IT!!! (STEAM IT, DAMN IT!!!)
 
2) In plain tap water, not sea water preferably, or at least salted water (35 grams per liter of water)
 
3) Shocked it in plain water yet again!
 
4 Cooked it too long in the two "Experiments"!
 
We have never done this but they should research it on Food Network, or some other site.
 
Tail meat is tougher than claw meat, no matter how it is cooked, but I would guess it gets tougher the longer it is cooked.
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I Sous Vide with a good amount of butter in the bag. 

130F for 30 mins for tails. 

I also par boil them to remove the meat from the shells for just a minute. Fast. 

 

Works well for me. But also, I'm Sous Vide-ing specifically to get a softer less chewy texture than a traditional boil or broil. Otherwise I would just do that. 

 

 

Maine has great lobsters. But in my experience, boring lobster COOKS who think bland steamed lobster is 'the only way'. 

Yawn. 

Fundamentalists. 

 

 

 

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Why bother with secondary cooking after the initial one to remove the tail?

 

I would think multiple heatings up of said tail would render it tough and perhaps impact flavour as well.  Certainly such a long SV time will render it tough.

 

Why not just boil (or steam) for 9-10 mins, remove, and then heat up gently in some butter (not to cook - simply heat).

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I remove the meat from the tail raw from the belly with poultry shears. Sous vide @ 135F for around 30 min. I then use the tail shell flipped over as a dish and place the shell and tail under the broiler brushed with some melted browned butter and a sprinkle of paprike for around a minute to get a little sear and color.

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I've cooked two lobster tails sous vide.  These were cheap, frozen, warm water tails from a less than reputable vendor.  Alas, the only seafood vendor I can get to.

 

The first lobster tail turned out mealy and it made me sick.*  The second lobster tail turned out mealy and it made me sick.*

 

That was enough science for me.

 

 

*You don't want to know but you can probably guess.

 

 

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I'm very partial to lobster when I can get it. It's an almost sacred ingredient to me. I like live lobsters boiled/ steamed in a little water in a large covered pot for a few minutes. I serve it with only melted butter kept warm in my cherished candle-fired butter warmer stands with lemon wedges. So, so good when I can afford it and find it.

 

I've also had bad experiences with frozen lobster tails to the point I'm not interested in experimenting with them further.

 

Then I had a terrible experience with live lobsters picked up cheap on a sale at our large local Asian market. My husband went to get them, and he's the type that would not have noticed a filthy tank, which I expect explained their muddy taste and overall disappointing aspect on the plate. We did eat them, but if they had been the first lobster experience for me, I would never have sought another. At least we didn't get sick, but when you are expecting food for gods and end up with something that you sort of have to choke down, it is a monumental letdown. They weren't off fishy tasting like the frozen tails, but like they had been living in a concentration of their own waste. The clean sweet taste of lobster from the open ocean was long gone from these sad specimens.

 

Lobster, which is expensive and prized now, has a rather different history in this country at least. 

 

"  Lobster was also commonly served in prisons, much to the displeasure of inmates.[31] American lobster was initially deemed worthy only of being used as fertilizer or fish bait, and until well into the 20th century, it was not viewed as more than a low-priced canned staple food.

 

This seems incredible now, but there are many other sources that support this history of a now much revered seafood.

 

I can definitely see the wisdom of SV for breaking down collagen in tough cuts of meat without overcooking, but for something as tender and perfect as fresh live lobsters from the sea, perhaps it is not the right tool?

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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4 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

Lobster, which is expensive and prized now, has a rather different history in this country at least. 

 

Oysters were once the food of the poor in England, especially London. Sold on the streets by itinerant vendors. Now, you bleed money to eat them.

I'm sure there are other examples.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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6 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

Lobster, which is expensive and prized now, has a rather different history in this country at least. 

 

"  Lobster was also commonly served in prisons, much to the displeasure of inmates.[31] American lobster was initially deemed worthy only of being used as fertilizer or fish bait, and until well into the 20th century, it was not viewed as more than a low-priced canned staple food.

 

This seems incredible now, but there are many other sources that support this history of a now much revered seafood.

 

I live in lobster country (Atlantic Canada) and I can assure you that many old-timers, including a few in my family, insist that nothing makes the potatoes grow better than lobsters mulched into the soil. I've seen research from Maine and Prince Edward Island supporting that thesis, and it seems that chitin and chitosan from the shells may inhibit a few common potato pathogens. Maine, PEI and NB are all major producers of lobster and potatoes, so the correlation is rather serendipitous I suppose. 

 

I'm not a huge fan of lobster myself, so I usually only buy it during the peak season when the price is at its lowest. A few years ago I was getting them for my restaurant at $3.99/lb or less right from the boat, but prices have rebounded and the lowest price I could find this year was $6.99. To put that into context for non-Canadians, that's about the regular price here for boneless, skinless chicken breast (ie, not on sale) and lower than the price for a chuck roast. 

A few years ago, when prices were very low and exports were shaky, the New Brunswick government launched an advertising campaign to try and encourage locals to support the industry by consuming more lobster. Their official slogan was "Put Lobster in Your Lunchbox," but local wags immediately paraphrased it as "Lobster...it's the new bologna." The program was not notably successful. :P

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I think part of the problem here is double-cooking the lobster. You can also improve your results by killing it better.

 

To kill lobster in a way that's both humane and most delicious, anesthetize them first. This has become common practice with fish in Japan (I suspect more for flavor than conscience), since the older methods of instantaneously destroying the fish's spinal column require more time and much more skill. Basically, with any sentient creature, time spent writhing in pain or anxiety leads to spontaneous muscle contractions (spasms), that deplete the stored glucose and ATP in the muscle tissue and replace it with waste products. Even instantly beheading a fish causes the autonomous nervous system to create spasms. This doesn't happen if the creature is put all the way to sleep with a central nervous system anesthetic. 

 

Commercial fish anesthetics use pure isoeugenol. This happens to be the primary constituent of clove oil, which you can get at any fragrance or aromatherapy shop. Just make sure you get pure clove oil. Some will say something like "contains 75% eugenols," which is ideal.

 

The procedure is to create a solution of 2ml to 4ml clove oil per gallon of salt water. Sea water is ideal, or you can simulate it with a 3.5% by weight table salt solution.

 

Clove oil isn't miscible in water, so you have to dissolve in alcohol first. You'll need 40ml of your cheapest vodka per gallon of water. Be careful handling the clove oil; it's very strong when concentrated and can burn your skin and eyes.

 

Mix the clove oil into the booze (it will get cloudy), and mix this solution into to salt water. Drop in your lobsters. They'll squirm around and then stop. Give them a minute; usually they'll start squirming or backwards-walking again before coming to a final stop. At this point they should be completely limp. If this doesn't work with 2ml / gallon, double the concentration. Some lobsters are resistant to the drug.

 

Once they're out (they'll be alive, but completely limp) they're ready to cook whole or to be be butchered. If you're steaming or sous-viding them, rinse first with clear water to get rid of the clove smell. 

 

I've done this several times and the results have been perfect. There's more info on the method at cookingissues.com

 

(If you want to try this with vertebrate fish, start with 1ml clove oil / gallon. They're more responsive to the stuff). 

 

 

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Notes from the underbelly

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The reason to sous vide (in butter, which is really more like 'butter poaching' than straight ahead sous vide) is to use a low temp and short time and arrive at a cooked, but softer, creamier texture than a trad boil/broil/steam

 

if what I wanted was a typically boiled lobster texture, I'd typically boil it

 

the one minute par boil just makes it easier to remove form the shell. it has no discernible effect on texture; and it's certainly not "cooked" that fast.

 

If I want a more traditional texture, my favorite is to par boil for a few minutes, split down the middle, lie it on its back on a sheet pan, butter liberally, maybe bread crumbs in the cavity, and then under the broiler to finish... the way many "steakhouses" do them.

SO MUCH better than (yawn) steamed.

Edited by weedy (log)
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Thanks for all the feedback.

 

On the double cooking method that I use, the first boiling is very short and I don't think that would cook the tail meat.

 

When I take the meat out, it was still translucent and uncooked.

 

I think, next time I would try to get smaller one (600-700 grams). And for the timing, I would try 60C for 20 minutes.

 

Hopefully this would be better!

 

http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/12/food-lab-complete-guide-to-sous-vide-lobster.html

 

At 140°F (60C), your lobster becomes as firm as if it were cooked via traditional methods, though it still has the flavor advantages offered by sous vide. This might be a good temperature if you're serving a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander who insists on lobster the old-fashioned way. It might well convince them that sous vide is something special here.

As for timing, it takes about 20 minutes for the tail from a one-and-a-half-pound lobster to cook through, though anything up to an hour, or even a little longer, won't hurt it much. Cook it too long and it'll begin to suffer, turning mushy.

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One of local restaurants is having its annual Lobster Fest later this week.

I went last year and it was great; I hoping for a similar experience this time.

We are landlocked here so it's a happening when there's fresh lobster.

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On 1/10/2017 at 6:13 AM, Josh71 said:

At 140°F (60C), your lobster becomes as firm as if it were cooked via traditional methods, though it still has the flavor advantages offered by sous vide. This might be a good temperature if you're serving a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander who insists on lobster the old-fashioned way. It might well convince them that sous vide is something special here.

y.

 

 

that's the key phrase there.

I'm not cooking for fundamentalists.:ph34r:

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