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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sous Vide Recap - What I've Done Up Until Now



Okay, time for a sous vide recap:

Again, what is sous vide and what the hell is an immersion heater/circulator/cooker?



Sous vide translates into "under vacuum" and is a method of cooking that requires food to be encased in vacuum sealed heat stable, food grade plastic pouches and cooked at precisely controlled temperatures. The food is cooked at lower temperatures that with conventional methods of cooking with the water kept at the desired internal temperature of the food. This method retains moisture, prevents food shrinkage, makes it nearly impossible to overcook (you CAN leave food too long in the water bath and that can cause damage to the texture though) which means that you can be a bit more relaxed in your timing. In a nutshell, your meats, fish and poultry will come out of the sous vide batch moist, tender and perfectly cooked every time.

you can sear in a pan, on a grill or using a kitchen torch which is way more fun

The one con is that all proteins come out of the bag perfectly cooked but without that wonderful sear that makes meat, fish and poultry called the Maillard Effect or Reaction. To the eye, searing is about the look of the food but in reality, browning greatly affects the flavour, therefore, you still have to sear the food. So far, I have only seared post cooking but you can also pre sear meats before you add them to the bag. That will come next in my kitchen lab.

It doesn't matter what you call it - immersion heat, circulator or cooker, these machines all do the same thing that they were invented to do in science labs:

They heat and circulate water so that it can maintain a precise and accurate temperature indefinitely.
That's it, that's all.

Click here to read my original post explaining the machine and the stuff you will need to go with it


I have been using my Anova Precision Cooker for everything but the lobster and it's been great. When I tried to heat up the water for the lobster, the motor made a horrible grinding noise and I had to unplug it and take the it all apart and then put the pieces back together again but that stopped it. I am not sure what that was but it could have been on my part - I might have put the metal tube and plastic bit on the bottom back together improperly and caused the little fan to be obstructed. It's not happened again though.
'

I used the Sansaire to cook the lobster (while the bath heated with the Anova cooked the steaks - Oh me, oh my was it nice having TWO of them!) and then handed it off to Craig Wong who is putting it through it's paces at his restaurant, Patois and I will check in with him this week to see what he is doing with it.





I did a flank steak for tacos here and had great success with some pork sausages here .









Lobster is a work in progress and this week and I am increasingly sold on using the torch to sear things post cooking as opposed to pan searing. If you told me that I would be allowed to use it for steaks and eggs and I would consider it a justified purchase - okay, you would have to throw in sausages too, because it is THE perfect way to cook them. Oh, and meatballs. It's magic with meatballs.
the lobster was good but not perfect, unlike the steaks which continue to be bang on time after time


I have had great success with onsen tomago, or eggs perfectly poached in their shells. The custardy texture of a sous vide egg yolk cannot be replicated with any other cooking method and it's absolute heaven for me. I will not bore you with all of my notes on the egg making process because there is no end to great online resources, articles and tutorials like this one over at Serious Eats.

In the end, I liked my eggs that were cooked at 75C/167F for 14 minutes so that is now my baseline for eggs and I don't care what Thomas Keller has to say about that. Of course, if he would like to fly me out to the west coast to do a little head to head egg off, I would consent to that.

Still want to marry my Anova 
We have also tried many steaks - the first time, we cooked two strip loin steaks (seared after cooking - soon I will try pre searing. I put one in for three hours and added the second at the two hour mark and cooked it for just one hour to see if the meat would truly stay med rare after hours in the bath. It's magic! The three hour steak was cooked to the same degree of doneness as the one hour steak. I can now cook meat when Shack is working and we are not sure what time he is coming home because, now, I can leave his portion in the water bath until he gets home, take it out, sear it and serve it. Up until now he had to either eat dried out, overdone meat or heat up cold dinner a couple hours after The Kid and I ate ours.

LOVE LOVE LOVE
WARNING: The unseared steak looks like dogfood when it comes out of the bag so don't be scared

My favourite links that will help understand Sous Vide: