This was a celebration of a sort. Instead of going out for dinner, we decided to stay home, cook lobster and pop open a good champagne. Since we recently acquired a sous vide machine, we decided to butter poach lobster tails with tarragon in the sous vide.
Our spring herb garden started producing some herbs such as French tarragon so this was the perfect recipe. I served the lobster tails with the butter used for poaching on the side for dipping along with some lemon juice.
We are not champagne connoisseurs but we had one more bottle of a 2000 vintage Don Perignon which we have had for a few years and decided to open it.
It had a nice straw color with fine bubbles. It had the slight taste of toasted bread, pear and cantaloupe flavors. Again, this is like "throwing pearls before swine" (or “Giving a gold coin to cats” 猫に小判– Japanese proverb). The pigs or cats here may not able to appreciate all the subtleties of this champagne but we enjoyed sipping this fine libation, nonetheless.
Going back to the lobster, we decided to use frozen lobster tails instead of live whole lobsters, which we usually get for this type of occasion, especially since this was a new cooking method for us (although how can it go wrong if you are poaching anything in melted butter). This recipe came from the blog of sous vide supreme.
I got two frozen uncooked lobster tails. I thawed them and remove the shells or exoskeleton (right upper in the picture below) showing one with shell removed and one with shell still attached.
I placed the two tails in a vacuum bag, put in a pinch of salt, butter (6 tbs, unsalted, thinly sliced, and two sprigs of fresh French tarragon (from our herb garden). I vacuum sealed (right upper).
I then placed the bag in a 60C (140F) water bath (lower left). The temperature went down by 0.2C but almost immediately it came back to 60C. I cooked it for 30 minutes (lower right).
After 5 minutes, the butter had all melted and the lobster tails were happily poaching in melted butter. After 30 minutes were up, I took the bag out. This is how the lobster tails looked.
I removed the lobster tails form the bag, poured the poaching liquid (mostly butter) into a container and squeezed in the juice of one lemon. I served this with asparagus (blanched and sautéed in butter) and a tomato half also cooked with butter seasoned with salt and black pepper.
This was a major success. Even though these were frozen tails, they were sublime; very tender but not under or over cooked. The tarragon permeated the butter and the lobster tails. The tarragon butter melded with the sweetness of the juice from the lobster and was a perfect dipping sauce for the succulent lobster. My mouth is watering just writing about this and looking at the pictures again.
P.S. I used the left over dipping sauce butter to make fried rice the next day and it was incredible. It infused the rice with a sweet-tarragon-lobster taste that left me wanting more.
P.S. 2 We also tried sous vide lobster tail at 130F for 30 minutes. I thought this was nice, a bit less cooked and very slightly transparent. My wife preferred 140F for 30 minutes. So, in our household, sous vide lobster tail will be cooked at 140F.