Lucky Lobster Lover lives to eat her words…AND lobster, as well

In March, 2010, I put up a post on the subject of lobster (here). I discussed my “allergy” to it, how Mr. Homard (scientifically known as homarus americanus)  was one of my absolute favorite foods and how I believed I would never be able to eat it again. Today I am happy to report that I have overcome this intolerance. I am once again able to indulge in this luscious crustacean. “How did that happen?” you ask.

My inability to eat the stuff, really not an allergy at all, was on account of a badly diseased gall bladder. I had my strong suspicions about this angry organ for nearly 20 years.  That was when it first started bothering me. Fortunately, during the first 10 years, it  would attack me only on a rare occasion. After a good night’s rest with the help of the sleeping pill du jour,  I could mostly ignore the problem. However, for the last 10 years, it increasingly got louder; the attacks became more frequent. I eliminated avocado from my diet (another food I adore) because it always stirred up trouble for me. Other things were eliminated when I could link them to the pain.

I’m really no hero. It is just that whenever I would go with my symptoms to a doctor I would be told to go away. Yes, after poking and prodding me and taking a picture (ultra-sonically) of my gut, I would be told that although it sounded like my gall bladder, it seemed to have passed. This happened three times. I always knew it would be back. I just never knew when. Worse yet, I had no idea what I would be forced to eliminate from my diet next.

Several years ago I realized, after four trys, that every time I ate lobster my diseased organ unleashed it’s tremendous wrath inside my gut. Now lobster was out and this really pissed me off. Still, I put off returning to the doctors, only to be sent away once again.

Finally, the thing became acute. This time I was determined not to let the attack pass without seeking medical attention mid attack. Not to worry. The “attack” became a massive siege. I actually had all the time I needed since the agony would not subside. I spent a miserable week in New York. Even a small burger without the fries at the Shake Shack  had me bent over clutching my waist. It seemed eating anything was a problem.  As we drove home from the airport, I turned to my darling and said “take me to the hospital.” This time, sure enough, the diagnostics backed me up.

 At the risk of  TMI, I’ll tell you that my gall bladder was actually 97% dead! Yep, completely non-functioning but thankfully not gangrenous. It had to be yanked. This was a very welcome determination. Though for me the procedure was not easy to recover from, eventually I regained much improved digestive health. A big reward for a lot of suffering. Little by little, I am thrilled to report, that I was able to reintroduce every single eliminated food back into my diet.

Lobster is the one I rejoice in the most.

I love the concept of “butter poaching” just about anything. So, when I read on eGullet all about how people were doing it with lobster in their sous vide machines, my mouth watered. Yes, yes, I am a hardcore locavore and lobster certainly does not fit the test. But, fanatic be damned, one has to make reasonable exceptions especially for the things one loves…especially for the things one has been deprived of for so many years.

In Costco of all places I spied these gargantuan tails and impulsively decided one of these guys would be a good place to start my experimentation. After all, if I blew 20 bucks and didn’t have to wrestle to pull it out of the shell, I wouldn’t be so bummed if my first sous vide go around with lobster came out terrible.

I forgot to get a photo of the tail before I yanked it from its shell, but you know what a lobster tail looks like, right? Just imagine a HUGE one. The thing was a full 10 inches long and weighed a full pound! This must have come from a relatively old lobster. Attached to its body I would speculate that this fellow must have weighed at least 3 pounds.

In sous vide cooking, you don’t put the lobster in the bag still in its shell because of the risk of piercing the bag and making a mess of your sous vide machine. At the open end of the tail, I took my flower shears (yes, smarty pants, I cleaned them first) and began clipping the bones on the underside, one by one, right up the middle. Then I took my thumbs, placed them on either side of the tail with the cut bones up, and gave the thing a good strong pinch backward to expose the raw meat inside. A solid but gentle pull of a fork freed the meat in one big piece. The meat alone was at least 2 1/2 inches in diameter!

Here is a photo of the tail meat after it was bagged. Yes, that IS an entire stick of butter in there with the seafood. Now I am one of those weird people who does not dip my lobster in butter before stuffing it down my gullet.Perhaps this is why the tail is not my favorite part since it usually comes out so dry. But butter poaching is a horse of a different color. When you butter poach a protein such as this, the butter does not get infused into the substance. The butter simply serves to keep the meat nice and soft and totally moist. Once out of the poaching medium, most of the butter remains behind – these are not the calories one needs to be concerned with.

I left the bag in a 61 degree C water bath for 1 hour. Happily, the poaching medium that was  left over after the lobster was cooked, was infused with lobstery deliciousness which had to be used somehow.

Rice was my choice, other than French fries, the perfect accompaniment for this peasant seafood. I put the lobster in a ziplock bag, without the butter, and set it back in the Sous Vide rig to stay warm. This is one of the beautiful things about Sous Vide – the temperature never goes higher than you set it to so holding food during prep is no issue. Meanwhile, I sautéed some arborio rice in the lobster butter. For the liquid, I used a simple chicken stock amended with a healthy dose of puréed preserved lemon, a dash of nutmeg, a little white pepper and some kosher salt. The lemon provided plenty of contrast in flavor for the rice, even though it was cooked with the lobster butter.

When the rice was ready for serving, I took the lobster out, trimmed the ends (which got sent back into the rice) and sliced it in neat 1/2 inch disks. On the plate, I drizzled a tiny bit of the remaining lobster butter and garnished the plate with parsley. Plain and simple, but lobster really doesn’t need to be anything else.

In truth, I really expected to be disappointed and much to my thrill and surprise, the lobster was moist and succulent. It was not overly tender as I had feared and although it was not from the best of sources, it was sufficiently fresh and flavorful. I suppose that with today’s flash freezing methods, a decent commercial product really is made possible.

I enjoyed every last bite and suffered no pain for the indulgence.

Thanks for reading and thanks for everyone’s support during my long absence from this blog. I hope to have a number of interesting posts coming your way on a regular basis very soon.

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9 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Lobster, Sous Vide, sous vide cooking

9 responses to “Lucky Lobster Lover lives to eat her words…AND lobster, as well

  1. patti kearney

    So very glad to see you’re back! I missed you!

  2. Thanks for those kind words. It is nice to be welcomed!

  3. Chris Cook

    Great post. I’m going to have to try the lobster sous vide, now.
    And glad you’re feeling better, too!

  4. I also am a woman without a gall bladder. It was discovered when pregnant with my first child. I had stones the size of pin heads that escaped through my duodenum and cause great havoc with my body… back seizures. Chest Seizures. Pain indescribable. I suppose now they could dissolve them. Then, I had it removed. The scar is still massive. I am surprised lobster affected it… but, boy oh boy does this lobster look fantastic. I love all kinds of confit -and I guess this is the same concept… but, instead of cooked low and slow in its own fat, it would be butter. But, yes, fresh would be best – and on the Alberta prairies – when I buy a fresh one, I can already tell it is brain damaged.
    However, I will make this anyway – and Valentine’s Day sounds like the day to me!
    I have not used my machine in a while. I have been ill, too -but, hopefully, back at it. :)
    valerie
    SO happy you got a subscribe by mail. I am so in! :)

    • Hi Valerie, great to hear from you. When you make the lobster, be sure to vary the cooking time by how thick the meat is. Smaller lobster tails will require much less time. See egullet and Doug Baldwin for variations on time and temp. Some people do it at 59 or 60 C for much less time. I have another friend who did it and absolutely hated it – he gave up after several tries. I find that in general fish is tough – it is so variable from species to species – and I suspect that lobster is the same. So, please keep me posted on your experience with your lobster. Take care!

  5. AH – you’ve written nothing since August – I see you have been ill – but didn’t realize it had been a 4 month hiatus!
    Here’s to your continued good health!

  6. Jim Zenk

    Welcome back, glad to see you have pushed forward and returned. All the Best in your travels.

  7. Your doctors are idiots. My doctor had my gall bladder examined using ultrasound when I developed symptoms like yours, but worse as I was doubled over with pain and dry heaving for hours, and found cholesterol gall stones. Medication over a six month period disolved the stones. If the stones are of the other type, simple endoscopic surgery to remove the gall bladder takes care of the problem.

    I post this in case others are suffering from similar symptoms.

    • Thanks Christopher. But I must disagree. My doctors weren’t the idiots – I was. I always waited too long, after the stone had passed, and so the symptoms did not show! The diseased organ was removed laproscopically – a very simply procedure with very little pain. It is good to let people know they should not be fearful of this problem as it is pretty easy to remedy. I was the foolish chicken!

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