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Cooking lobster tails

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Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:27 pm

So I bought a box of cold water lobster tails at Costco. Cooked four the other night (they're not large ones). One released nicely from the shell, while the meat in the other three clung badly and I ended up tearing them out in small clumps.

This was the third time cooking these, same problem. In order to try to avoid it I cooked them differently--started in boiling water and then reduced to a poach, ten minutes total time. I had hoped the boiling start would shock them into releasing better. But no.

I've never had this problem with warm water lobster tails (Carribean, Australian).

Oh you New Englanders, tell me what I'm doing wrong!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jeff Grossman » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:05 pm

Mid-Atlantic boy here. When that happens to me -- lobster meat clings to the shell -- it's because it isn't cooked enough. When done, it will release.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:26 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:Mid-Atlantic boy here. When that happens to me -- lobster meat clings to the shell -- it's because it isn't cooked enough. When done, it will release.


That's where my thinking was going and that's why I did the initial boil this time, but the meat was perfectly cooked. Yet three of four wouldn't release. I have to overcook them?
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:19 pm

Oh, another point. Broiled lobster tail. Classic restaurant prep is to cut down the back of the shell and pull the meat up to sit on top. You can't do that to these lobster tails.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:06 am

If the meat was white all the way through, no transparency remaining, then it was done.

If it still sticks to the shell then there are two possibilities: it's a species that does not freeze well, or it's been frozen too long. The designation "cold-water" does not indicate Eastern origin, by the way; could be Canada or South Africa. (Often, lobster tail comes from rock lobster, which does not have sizable claws so the tail is the harvest.)

This site has a lot of good info and advice, including how to butterfly the tail for that restaurant presentation: http://www.lobsterhelp.com/cooking-lobster-tails.html

Sorry I don't have a firm answer for you.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:37 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:If the meat was white all the way through, no transparency remaining, then it was done.

If it still sticks to the shell then there are two possibilities: it's a species that does not freeze well, or it's been frozen too long. The designation "cold-water" does not indicate Eastern origin, by the way; could be Canada or South Africa. (Often, lobster tail comes from rock lobster, which does not have sizable claws so the tail is the harvest.)

This site has a lot of good info and advice, including how to butterfly the tail for that restaurant presentation: http://www.lobsterhelp.com/cooking-lobster-tails.html

Sorry I don't have a firm answer for you.


Yes, indeed, white and opaque, no translucence. I've cooked a zillion lobster tails in my time and know how to cook them, just not usually "cold water" versions as those haven't been available on this coast. I'll take a look at that website, thanks.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:44 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:This site has a lot of good info and advice, including how to butterfly the tail for that restaurant presentation: http://www.lobsterhelp.com/cooking-lobster-tails.html


Btw, I do know how to do that. It's my standard prep--but it won't work with these tails, the uncooked meat is as clingy as the cooked meat.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Greg H » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:47 pm

Not sure this will help, but working from fresh lobsters, I par boil for 1 minute, remove the tail, and return the body/claws to the pot for an additional 4 minutes. The lobster meat releases from the shell cleanly. For lobster rolls, I finish the cooking by sous vide in butter.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:58 pm

Greg H wrote:Not sure this will help, but working from fresh lobsters, I par boil for 1 minute, remove the tail, and return the body/claws to the pot for an additional 4 minutes. The lobster meat releases from the shell cleanly. For lobster rolls, I finish the cooking by sous vide in butter.


Greg, if your lobster tails release cleanly after one minute then I promise you, they'd release cleanly when raw. These lobster tails I have don't even release cleanly after a ten-minute poach. Can't serve a whole lobster tail therefore, and I end up leaving a lot of meat in the shell. Idea: why don't I call Costco and ask them if they've had complaints? I can't imagine that these sell well if everyone has the same issue I do, and they should, why wouldn't they?
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Greg H » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:02 pm

That has not been my experience with raw lobster. To solve this problem, I looked around and found this discussion from Thomas Keller. Since then, I have had no issues releasing lobster meat from the shell after a short par boil, though your problem may be quite different.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/10/dining/a-chef-invents-a-lobster-dish-and-pots-start-boiling-all-over.html
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:04 pm

Greg, I'm familiar with Tom's method. Note this part of my initial post: "started in boiling water and then reduced to a poach, ten minutes total time for fully cooked. I had hoped the boiling start would shock them into releasing better. But no." I'm an experienced lobster cook and I've not had this problem with fresh Maine lobsters, nor have I had it with frozen warm water lobster tails. Just these "cold water" tails that are somewhat new to our marketplace--last two years, anyway. Hey, reminds me, I didn't get hold of Costco yet.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:14 pm

Talked to Costco. Nope, no complaints, everybody's real happy with 'em. Has he ever cooked one? No.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jeff Grossman » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:08 am

Jenise, I spoke to my fishmonger for you. He said a couple things:
- "cold-water lobster" means "Canadian" 99% of the time
- how long they've been frozen is almost never an issue
- wrong species, however, is possible

He asked for a picture. Still got any uncooked ones left?

And, you were exactly right to call Costco, even if they were a dead-end this time.
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Re: Cooking lobster tails

by Jenise » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:19 pm

LobsterCling.jpg
LobsterCling.jpg (58.7 KiB) Viewed 101 times


I took this pic of the pile of shells leftover from my attempts to pull out the meat the other night. I had to cut them down the back and front and work on half at a time. Like getting cling peaches when you expect cling-free.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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