Sous Vide Lobster Recipe

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Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Sous vide cooking guarantees tender, moist, succulent results.
  • Butter and tarragon flavor get built right into the lobster meat.
  • Parboiling the lobster makes it easy to remove the meat from the shell.

If buttery, tender, sweet poached flavor is what you're after, there's no better way to cook it than sous vide. It's also a heck of a lot more foolproof than boiling or steaming, and affords the opportunity to infuse that lobster meat with extra flavor. Think: lobster with the butter built right into it. Doesn't that sound swell?

Sous Vide Lobster Cooking Temperatures

120°F (49°C)  Soft and translucent 
130°F (54°C)  Tender and succulent 
140°F (60°C)  Close to traditional steamed-lobster texture 

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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Ingredients

  • 2 whole live lobsters, about 1 1/2 pounds each (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Clarified Butter, for serving

Directions

  1. Kill each lobster by plunging a knife directly into its head, splitting its carapace in half. Twist off the tail and claws. Discard carapace or save for stock.

  2. Lay tails flat against a cutting board and insert two stiff wooden or metal skewers along the length of the tails, keeping as close to the shell as possible.

  3. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of water or a steamer to a rolling boil. Add lobster tails and claws and cook for 1 minute. Remove tails with tongs and transfer to ice bath. Continue cooking claws for 4 minutes longer, then transfer to ice bath.

  4. Shuck lobster tails by first squeezing sides of shell inward until they crack. Pull sides of shell outward. The shell should open up easily. Remove tail meat and set aside.

  5. To remove claw meat, break off the small pincer, being careful to get the meat out of it. Using kitchen shears or the spine of a heavy knife, crack bottom of shell to create an opening large enough to extract the meat. Carefully remove claw meat by shaking shell up and down, or by using the back of a wooden skewer to slide it out.

  6. To remove knuckle meat, snip open shells with kitchen shears and use the back of a wooden skewer to remove meat. If knuckles are especially spiky, use a kitchen towel to help grasp them.

  7. Using a sous vide precision cooker, preheat a water bath to desired temperature according to the chart above.

  8. Place meat in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag or a vacuum bag. Add 2 tablespoons (30g) butter and tarragon sprigs. Remove all air from bag using the water displacement method or a vacuum sealer.

  9. Add bagged meat to water bath and cook for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

  10. Remove lobster from bag, discard tarragon, and serve immediately with lemon wedges and hot clarified butter for dipping.

Special equipment

Sous vide precision cooker

Notes

If you can't get live lobsters, frozen lobster tails will work as well. Serve 1 1/2 to 2 lobster tails per person, depending on the size of the tails. Skip step 1 and any directions pertaining to claws or knuckles.

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