Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Butter Poached Sous Vide Lobster Tail

During last year's summer, there was a point where Maine lobsters were incredibly cheap and going for as low as $1-2 dollars a pound. There was even a NY Times article covering the issue, documenting the hardships of Maine fishermen struggling from record low prices caused by the glut of lobsters flooding the market.

Since lobsters were so cheap, we purchased a whole bunch of lobsters to cook up and serve during a family dinner. I've had lobster cooked in all different kinds of ways, but I had read about French Laundry's technique of poaching the lobster tails in butter and wanted to try this method.

To start, I boiled up some water along with some white vinegar and poured this over the raw lobsters, letting them steep for a few minutes. Next, I disassembled the lobsters, pulling apart the body, claws and tails. While the lobster tail was still hot, I twisted off the flat end and then pushed the tail meat through the shells to remove.

I then placed the partially cooked lobster meat (practically still raw) and some unsalted butter in a zip loc bag, removing as much air as possible using the water displacement method. Similar to Thomas Keller's method, Modernist Cuisine has a recipe for poached lobster tails, and in that recipe, the book recommends using a water temperature of 125 degrees F, cooking to a core temp of 123 degrees. I decided to follow this, and I let the lobster tails sit in my water bath for about 15 minutes before removing - I have an old school Sous Vide Supreme, but there are many better, cheaper sous vide options available now such as Joule and Anova.

Modernist Cuisine recommends doing a quick 10 second sear on the tails to firm up the surface of the lobster but I skipped this step. The results are shown below. The lobter tail meat was certainly very buttery, tender and smooth but I somehow still felt like the meat was a bit undercooked. I was fine with the texture but it was more the faint taste of raw lobster that I wasn't overly thrilled about. I doubt the 10 second sear that I skipped would have made a significant difference in the end result, but I could be wrong. If I were to do this again, I'd try the final sear step or possibly just cook the tail meat at a higher temperature.

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