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Cooking Lobster


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Based on a discussion that started about lobster cookery in the thread on the restaurant Per Se, it seems evident to me that there is considerable disagreement as to what internal temperature a lobster should be cooked to and what is nthe best method to achieve that so that the lobster isn't overly chewy and "tough".

Some of the discussion that spun off from directly talking about Per se has been shifted to here.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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For how long is the lobster poached at least ? What about the Claws?

Until they're cooked.

Seriously though it would depend on the size of the lobster.

If you're poaching them in butter then you have the luxury of using a probe thermometer to tell you when they've reached 140F. The claws are left for an extra five minutes when blanched [i.e. pour boiling water over the lobsters, remove after 2 minutes, separate the claws, return them to the water for another 5 minutes].

You should end up with a butter-lobster broth after cooking it sous vide. Do they use it or what are they doing with this liquid gold.....?

Thanks so far....

They use it. It tastes awesome.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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I have used the butter poaching method for a couple of years now and have only ever found the lobster to be perfect each and every time, we serve it in salads and canape parties with nothing but compliments for it, as for internal temps I will double check next time I cook it as currently work on time and feel (not failed me yet), but will probe the next ones I cook and post it here, butter broth never goes above 75C. after use we continue to finish as for beurre clarifie then use it to sear our bream and snapper fillets.

Alex

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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The lobster that I had at both French Laundry and at Per Se was just a bit unusual in texture - the slow cooking results in a texture that is closer to raw. This isn't actually tough, is really is tender, but could be perceived as tough. I loved it, but the people I was with who weren't lobster eaters didn't really like it much, mainly complaining about the texture.

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I think most of the people are used to the "20 minutes in boiling salt water" cooked Lobster. It´s tender as well, but doesn´t have any texture or flavour...

When I worked in the U.S. I saw that they actually cooked fish like Halibut or Salmon more medium than well done. It had that shiny look in the middle of the flesh and was just about cooked. That is what people like or don´t like....same thing with the lobster.

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You should end up with a butter-lobster broth after cooking it sous vide. Do they use it or what are they doing with this liquid gold.....?

Cooking it sous vide uses a lot less butter. The lobster tails are cryovac'd individually with a knob of butter and some maldon salt. The liquid produced by that cooking method isn't much. And it's actually not used. The lobster tail is taken out of the bag, beurre monte is poured over it and flashed in the oven for the briefest time. It's then assembled together with the rest of the relevant ingredients for the appropriate dish, along with the appropriate sauce...

#1456/5000

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They cook the lobster in a water bath that is kept at 138-140?  It would seem doubtful if that is true that the internal temp of the lobster exceeds the 130's.  That's not a cooked lobster. 

Well, that would depend on how you define cooked. Remember that the lobster is first blanched before it is cooked sous vide. The entire lobster is opaque, nothing is translucent anymore. One thing's for sure, it's not an overcooked lobster....

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I believe Keller's original recipe for butter poached lobster was to partially cook the whole lobster in hot but not boiling water. The lobster would "steep" for several minutes. The lobster meat could then be easily removed from the shell and then cooked further in the butter, still at relatively low temperature until done.

His theory is that a lobster cooked at lower temperature is more tender than one boiled.

I have made his original recipe at home several times and the lobster has never been tough. In fact, it is unusually tender.

As Doc said, they are either getting bad lobsters or someone isn't properly minding the sous vide machine.

Ditto this ^, and make sure that the lobster is room temperature too, just like you would a steak, before you poach it.

I've had wonderful results from Keller's recipe.

cm

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According to Harold McGee on pg. 220 of the first Scribner revised edition of On Food and Cooking,

Crustacean Texture like fish flesh, most crustacean flesh consists of white, fast muscle fibers (p. 131). Its connective-tissue collagen is both more abundant than fish collagen and less easily dissolved by heat, so crustacean meat is less delicate and easily dried out than fish. But the protein-breaking enzymes in the muscle are very active, and can turn the meat mushy if they aren't rapidly inactivated by the heat of cooking. These enzymes work fastest when the the temperature hits 130-140F/55-60C, so the cook should either heat the flesh well above this range as quickly as possible, or get it just into this range  (for maximum moistness) and then serve it immediately.

I am not entirely sure what to make of this information. I would think that either butter braising or sous vide cooking would be relatively slow cooking methods (especially sous vide) and therefore should result in relatively "tender" or "mushy" lobster meat. To my experience, butter braised lobster is more "tender" than other methods. Perhaps the occassional "toughness" found in some sous vide cooked lobsters has to do more with the initial blanching?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I've had the butter-poached lobster at The French Laundry and have also made it out of the cookbook after visiting the restaurant.

When we were served the dish our waiter told us that the kitchen cooks it in Beurre Monté (see page 135 in the book) at 190°F for about 6 or 7 minutes. He said that it comes out so tender that some people think it's undercooked and send it back.

I've made it at home and the texture has been wonderful every time.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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