Planning a holiday menu is no easy task. You want to impress your guests, but …
Parboiling or the Pour-Over Method
While boiling and steaming may be the most common ways to cook lobster, when you need partially cooked lobster meat for a dish, parboiling or the “pour-over method,” is the way to go. Parboiling dispatches the lobster, and cooks the meat just enough to remove it from the shell. You can then chill the meat down and reuse it later in a dish that calls for further cooking. Parboiling is the preferred lobster cooking method of Thomas Keller, and is the technique used for preparing the French Laundry’s famously succulent and tender butter-poached lobster.
To parboil whole lobsters:
Place your live lobsters in a large container and determine how much water you will need to completely submerge them.
Fill a large pot with your needed amount of water, and add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar for every 8 quarts of water.
Bring the water and vinegar mixture to a boil. Pour the liquid over the lobsters and allow the lobsters to “steep” for 4 minutes.
Remove the lobsters and set in a hotel pan. Allow the lobsters to cool slightly so you are able to comfortably handle them. It’s important to remove the flesh while the lobsters are still warm so that the meat separates easily from the shell.
Twist and detach the lobsters’ claws, and return the claws to the hot water bath for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove from the hot water and proceed to remove the shells while the lobster is still hot. Chill and store until ready to use.
Is it Done Yet?
Cooked lobsters will turn bright red, but that’s not the best indicator of doneness, especially for large lobsters. They may still be underdone when the shell turns red. Jasper White recommends cooking the lobsters for the recommend time, then cracking one open where the carapece meets the tail. If it’s done, the meat will have changed from translucent to white.
Originally published in CIAProChef.com