Thomas Keller is a world famous chef and owns multiple restaurants. He published a beautiful book on sous-vide cooking called “Under Pressure”. In this book he writes that lobster tail should be cooked sous-vide for 15 minutes at 59.5ºC/139ºF, and many websites have published this temperature as well as Thomas Keller is considered to be a reliable source.
I performed an experiment with lobster tail sous-vide about two years ago, and found that I preferred 46ºC/115ºF over 50ºC/122ºF. Those are two temperatures that are recommended by Modernist Cuisine (they also mention 54ºC/129ºF). At the lower temperature, the lobster meat was more tender, less ‘springy’, and more juicy. I never even tried it at Thomas Keller’s suggestion of 59.5ºC/139ºF, as going even higher didn’t seem like a good idea. I’ve had some reactions of readers doubting whether to go with 46ºC/115ºF as per my experiment, or to play it ‘safe’ and go with Thomas Keller.
Since I hadn’t actually tried the temperature suggested by Thomas Keller, I thought I should repeat my experiment but with 46ºC/115ºF compared to 59.5ºC/139ºF to make out once and for all what’s better.
The proof of the
pudding lobster is in the eating. The lobster tail cooked at 46ºC/115ºF was more tender, more juicy, and less rubbery than the lobster tail cooked at 59.5ºC/139ºF. The lobster tail cooked at the higher temperature was still nice, just not as nice as the lobster cooked at the lower temperature. The lobster tail cooked at the higher temperature was more like a regular steamed lobster tail, without the benefits of sous-vide that are obvious in the lobster cooked at 46ºC/115ºF.
Please note that this is my personal taste. You may actually prefer lobster cooked at 59.5ºC/139ºF because you are used to eating it that way.
Now I wonder whether Thomas Keller actually uses the temperatures published in his book “Under Pressure” in his restaurants, as all the temperatures shown for fish are too high (all around 60ºC/140ºF, including bass, mackerel, St. Peter’s fish, and even tuna). Americans can be overly cautious when it comes to food poisoning, especially when there is a risk of lawyers getting involved. Seafood cooked long enough at 60ºC/140ºF is pasteurized and therefore safer to eat than fish cooked at the ‘right’ temperatures between 43ºC/109ºF and 48ºC/118ºF as published by me on this blog and by Modernist Cuisine. However, if the seafood is fresh, it is already safe to eat when it is still raw. Safer than safe isn’t necessary, and I agree wholeheartedly with Modernist Cuisine that you can’t pasteurize fish without overcooking it. I’ve never eaten at Thomas Keller’s restaurants, but I would not be surprised at all if he uses lower temperatures there.
It goes without saying that you can’t get any fresher (and thus safer) than a live lobster you just killed yourself a minute before cooking it.
Easter is coming up, and this bread stuffed with raisins and almond paste is perfect for the occasion. It is called “paasstol” in Dutch, and is the same as a “kerststol” that is baked for Christmas.