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Neil Smith

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Everything posted by Neil Smith

  1. Not particularly. You really don't need very much air going in to do the circulating. Water has a pretty go thermal conductivity already, so even without agitation the water temperature will be pretty even across the tank anyway.
  2. As Paul said, fish tank pumps won't do. Like him, I've melted a few while I was learning that lesson. You can get cheap high-temperature pumps on eBay (I use the a P-38B 12V DC Submersible Water Pump, but there are others). You might also consider using a fish tank bubbler, without airstone, to circulate the water.
  3. The other day, I served one of these to a friend who grew up in Hong Kong. As you suggested, he said it was nothing like traditional char sui, but it was delicious. Thanks for the recipe!
  4. Any suggestions for cooking oxtail? There's a recipe at British Larder that suggests 82⁰C (180⁰F) for 14 hours, and one from mengwong that suggests 57⁰C (135⁰F) for 24 hours followed by 70⁰C (158⁰F) for 48 hours. The butcher I bought it from suggested "overnight" at 80⁰C. All of those seem a bit high for cooking even a tough cut of beef. I was thinking of 57⁰C for about 48 hours, and seeing what it's like. Any thoughts?
  5. I grabbed some from a local Morrisons the other week. 60⁰C for 60 hours, and they we great. I hadn't stumbled across the recipe linked upthread, so I just did them with some sage and pepper, with a red-wine-and-gravy-granules sauce made with a reduction of the juices (classy, I know).
  6. I've got one of them (I bought it direct from the Swiss factory. The price was about the same, but it came with a European plug). It works very well. I've had mine a few weeks and am very satisifed. The only slight drawback is that it seems to use a mechanical relay rather than an electronic one, so it might wear out after a few years of heavy use. There's this other thread about it. (Edited to add links)
  7. I tried a (conventionally) slow-cooked meal of pork cheeks in a London pub the other week, and it was great. When I found my local supermarket had them, I though I'd give them a go at home. The conventional pork cheeks were tender, though a little dry. The meat didn't seem to have much collagen in it, so I though I'd be able to get away with a low-ish temperature. I couldn't find any recipes online, so I had to make something up. I settled on 60⁰C for 36 hours, but scheduling issues meant they had to stay in the cooker for another day, ending up with 60 hours cooking. I put a bit of sage and ground black pepper on the meat before sealing. After cooking, I dried and shallow-fried the cheeks to brown them. I served them with a sauce made from the pork juices (plentiful), reduced slightly, with some gravy granules and red wine. They were fantastic. Beautifully tender, but still holding together. I was afraid that the meat would have essentially dissolved given the long cooking times. I might try them a couple of degrees lower next time as there was a slight stringyness to the meat. You wouldn't call them dry, but they weren't as smooth as some meats I've done.
  8. My Sous Vide Chef arrived a few days ago and is working fine. My opinion on the device is the same as @nickrey: it works well, the display shows rapid and random variation in temperature of ±0.2⁰C, and the heater seems to be controlled by a mechanical relay (at least, it clicks every time the heater switches). As best as I can judge, the water temperature is constant and even across the volume of the bath (I'm using a cool box/beer cooler). Food comes out lovely. I'd recommend it as a mid-range sous vide cooker. It's less hassle than the Sous Vide Magic, more capable than the SideKik, and cheaper than the PolyScience units. Even my wife will tolerate it in the kitchen!
  9. The unit still hasn't turned up. I phone the manufacturer on Friday to see where it was (after around four weeks). They said they'd had a problem with a part for the cooker so have had to source new ones. They're expecting to be able to dispatch new cookers this Friday.
  10. @nickrey, thanks very much for the review of this device. It looks to be as good as I'd hoped (though I'm a little surprised that they use a mechanical relay, as solid state relays are pretty cheap). I've now ordered one to replace my now-defunct homebrew one. The family are happy that we'll have confit duck legs again soon!
  11. I just looked again at the manufacturer's website, and they claim the temperature stability of their device is ±0.2⁰C. It looks like Pep's friend's unit is working as intended.
  12. A tolerance of ±0.2⁰C is a lot better than the ±1⁰C I get from my homebrew rig. As I don't cook near dangerously low temperatures anyway, that tolerance sounds acceptable to me. Not ideal, but acceptable. But yes, more reports are always good. Thanks, everyone.
  13. I've tried a few for my DIY kit, but not had a good experience. Most of the pumps aren't rated for sous vide temperatures and have a habit of failing after just a few hours. Those that can cope with the temperature aren't submersible or self-priming, so you'd have to faff around with filling the pumps with water before you can turn them on. I've settled on a P-38B 12V DC Submersible Water Pump, available from China via eBay. It requires an additional 12V supply; I use a cheap TV/Monitor one as it can provide more than enough power.
  14. Thanks! I'll await with interest. ...which is a good thing for us Europeans.
  15. I'm also interested in this device: my home-brew cooker is a little more temperamental than I'd like. However, the price is still above the 'frivolous spend' level.
  16. Welcome! If you've not tried duck leg confit, do it now. Your mouth will love you forever. Crush a couple of bay leaves into a bowl. Add a couple of teaspoons of dried thyme and a tablespoon of salt. Mix and rub into the legs, particularly into the meat. (Alternatively, use about ¼ teaspoon of five spice powder instead of the thyme and bay. You still need the salt.) Store in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours. Rinse thoroughly under cold water. You may need to remove the membrane from the meat if the herbs stick to it. Dry the legs thoroughly. Bag the legs, two to a bag. There's no need to add additional duck fat, but adding a tablespoon per leg won't hurt. (I don't bother.) Cook at 74⁰C for 20 hours. After cooking, remove the skin and shallow fry for a few minutes to crisp it up. Serve together with the shredded meat. Everything's edible apart from the bones and small bit of gristle. Reserve the liquid from the bags: it's more duck fat and gelatine/stock. Use it in soups or sauces.
  17. Yes, any old air pump will do. Don't use an airstone on it, though. Instead, cut a few large-ish holes in the end of the hose. The large bubbles are better at circulating the water. (I stop the hose floating by threading it though the rack I keep on the base of the pot.) I use a cheap JML sealer I bought on eBay. It works fine and replacement bags and rolls are easy to come by. That's my understanding. The 'thickness' is the minimum distance from the edge to the centre, as that's what limits how fast heat can get to the centre.
  18. Thanks for posting these! I had my first go at pork char siu over the weekend. I used pork tenderloin, cooked as per Mark's instructions, but used Andrew's marinade. It was very nearly a disaster when I mistakenly converted 140F into 78C, but sanity kicked in before any damage was done. I don't have a working grill (broiler?) at the moment, so to finish it I poured some marinade over the pork then fried it. The results were fantastic and something I will do again. We had a friend over for lunch, who was at first bemused by the whole sous vide process, then amazed at how well the pork came out.
  19. Welcome! I have no sensible comments to make, other than to say that it must be so much fun to watch you doing that!
  20. Be careful of this pump. While it's submersible, it's rated at 100⁰C if it's not submerged, but only up to 50⁰C if it is. It's better than the ~32⁰C rating of aquarium pumps, but it may break if you try to cook vegetables in it. However, I spoke to one person who has used it with no problems. (I've just bought a P-38B pump from eBay, rated to 80⁰C submerged, and it seems to be working fine.)
  21. I agree with throwing them. Reheating the food will kill off any bacteria that had grown in the meantime, so you wouldn't get a gut infection from the reheated food. However, growing bacteria can also release significant amounts of quite nasty toxins (to stop other bacteria growing nearby). Those toxins will remain in the food, even after cooking, That's how you get things like botulism, which can be fatal.
  22. Thanks for the tips, guys. I'll try it at 58⁰C for 24-36 hours, to make sure it's nice and tender. (I don't have that much lying around to experiment with, this time.) I'll let you know how it turns out. I had the mutton this evening. It turned out I cooked it for about 21 hours, at 58⁰C. It was fabulous! Tender, moist, flavourful, just wonderfully good. So much better than my first attempt. If you've not tried mutton, get some. It's great. Thanks again for the cooking advice!
  23. Thanks for the tips, guys. I'll try it at 58⁰C for 24-36 hours, to make sure it's nice and tender. (I don't have that much lying around to experiment with, this time.) I'll let you know how it turns out.
  24. Any tips for sous vide'ing mutton? I got a leg of mutton and cooked it for 24 hours at 70⁰C (158⁰F). It wasn't too successful. The connective tissue had dissolved nicely, but the muscle bulk was definitely overcooked, dry and stringy. I was thinking of trying the last bit at around 63⁰C (145⁰F) for 48 hours. Does anyone have any thoughts on how well that will work?
  25. @vice: Thanks for the pointer for that SV kit. Those pumps look good, though I think I'd put two into a large tank to get sufficient flow. The advantage of that design is that I can put a pipe on the inlet to the far end of the tank, to ensure good circulation throughout the tank. @paulpegg: Unfortunately for me, both vice's and your pumps are equally expensive for me to get posted to the UK. (If there are any UKians here who want to share postage costs for the high-temperature submersible pumps, please PM me.) @rotuts: I'm after a pump that circulates the water, like an aquarium power head, as opposed to an air pump for bubbling. I agree, though, that external air pumps don't need to worry about the temperature.
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