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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 2)

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Reporting back on my Steak sous vide adventures. I SVd a really thick huge piece of wonderful dry aged steak seasoned only with some salt for 5 hours at 51C. To serve I grilled it for mere seconds over some charcoal at inferno heat levels. The charcoal smokiness added immeasurably to the final product. It was one of best steaks I've had. Next time I am going to try 6 or 7 hours for experimentation purposes - I'd like even more tenderness.

On to chicken - I want to SV some chicken pieces in some duck fat. I was thinking 1 hour at 140F or should I go longer or higher? I am planning or searing after for some of that ol' Maillard action.

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Has anyone sous vide'd monkfish? I have some in my fridge which i'm going to cook tonight, and it occurred to me that it might be good cooked sous vide as for lobster.

Any advice as to temperature? I know lobster is cooked between 115-130 if i remember, would like work for butter poached monkfish?

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I followed Roca's directions in the past and it was fantastic. I believe monkfish is a great example where sous vide technique really helps the fish. I usually seared the fish quickly to add some color and texture after the bath. With the monkfish, I seared it once to taste it, but I prefered it without the searing.

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The monkfish came out very well. I didn't sear it before or after. I just put it in the bag with about a tablespoon of butter, and cooked at 48C for about 1 hour.

Served with tomato concasse' and shrimp veloute'

monkfish%20tomato%20shrimp_sm.jpg

It was excellent. Thanks for the help.


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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we had some really nice Wild Striped Bass this past weekend... with some fairly large belly portions... cooked them(the bellies) with butter and a couple varieties of basil for 35 mins at 53 C... I couldnt have been more happy with the results, the garnishes were a very firm shrimp, some tomato water with anchovies macerated in it and some more micro basil. Seared the loins for another dish...


Edited by Joseph Fenush (log)

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I am interested in the results of the fish sous vides. I love rare meat and the results of the sous vide process on meat can be nothing short of phenomenal. But I am not so sure I like fish this way.

It is not that I don't like the texture or the idea - for example I love raw fish in sashimi and sushi - it is just that I find the taste or overall experience of sv fish kind of lacking. This is rather counterintuitive for me as we are always being told that fish really suffers from overcooking and would therefore seem to be an ideal candidate for the precision sv method. But I think the practical results are rather different.

We recently ate at a technically very good restauarant and everything was exellent with one exception - and that was the fish which had been cooked sous vide. It just lacked flavour and I don't think that the problem was the quality of the fish (wild sea bream) but just the technique of cooking itself.

My girlfriend is Italian and from a place where they cook a lot of fish and shellfish and she found it particularly unpalatable. Indeed in Italy fish is cooked much more fiercely than we often see it done here and it is normally absolutely delicious. It tends to have a roasted/maillard outside and a juicy inside but it normally not nearly as rare inside as we are used to being told to cook it.

Is the answer to adopt a similar method as we do with steaks (sv then grill or flash fry) or is SV not really so appropriate for fish cooking? I am not convinced that it makes fish anymore tasty than the traditional methods and sometimes in fact it comes well short.

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Joe, maybe it depends on the type of fish and what you're trying to achieve? I I think that searing after SV will give the fish more texture and probably more flavor.

The fish should have as much flavor as you put in the bag. My monkfish was very delicate since all i put was salt and butter. It may be that you just don't care for the textures created by the SV for fish?

Not really sure. Hope someone with more SV knowledge answers.

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I've been doing a lot of king salmon sous vide lately, and I've decided that searing in the pan is not worth it: you lose so much of the beautiful silky texture. Particularly with a skin-on piece: by the time you're able to crisp the skin, half the fillet is overcooked.

I have had better results with just playing a blowtorch over the surface, getting just a little char, but not cooking the meat too deeply.

I'm also not a fan of the just-barely cooked salmon cuit sous vide that Roca and others go for. I like a firmer fish, about 48-49C core temp.


---

al wang

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Jason - I've tried a variety of fish types. I don't mind the texture I just don't find that I get that yummy umami mouthfeel with this technique and fish. For example I tried Monkfish SV and it was good but not really yummy like the same fish seared at a high heat and then finished in the oven.

I've also cooked trout (from a recipe by Tetsuya Wakuda) at a very low level and then finished with shredded seaweed. The texture is basically that of the SV fish but the recipe does suit this technique. And I enjoyed so the texture is not the problem but the lack of flavour is.

Al - good point about trying the fish slightly firmer - maybe that is the answer? I agree it would probably be problematic to sear and sv.

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Okay still got to be convinced on the fish angle but I reckon that crustacea and other shellfish are great candidates for sous vide. I've tried shrimp and lobster and they both turned out beautifully.

Does anyone have some time/temperatures for squid?

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Joesan, have you tried hitting the fish with a blowtorch after it comes out of SV? Another possibility for a fillet with skin would be to take the skin off, crisp that separately in a pan, and then use the crispy skin as a garnish with the fillet.


--

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I do not see what I am looking for at this site -- or the other one mentioned.

I am looking for the specialty type vacuum bag that once it is vacuum sealed can be placed in 95C water for a few seconds. The sealed bag shrinks to closely conform to the shape of the material in the bag. The thusly shrunk bag and contents can then be processed as normal in a water bath.

This bag is useful for foods that have been shaped and so that they will retain that shape during cooking. Eg, a block shaped terrine or a cylinder shaped "sausage."

In his book, Roca refers to them simply as "shrink bags."

Anyone?

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MichaelB, I've searched for the shrink bags before and could only find them in huge quanities. Suitable for commercial operations but way more than I need. I specifically asked Nathan and he didn't know of any.

That chudypaper site doesn't have an online catalog - maybe an email enquiry would lead to more info?..

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I'm working on a batch of 48-hour short ribs and the power in the kitchen went out last night (sometimes the fuses reset...it's frustrating). When I turned the circulator back on, the water was at 33/C, and I think the power was out for at least 4 hours.

Is there any danger involved here? They still have around 31 hours left to go.

Thanks in advance...

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I think you have to toss the short ribs. It's not so much a matter of killing whatever bacteria might have grown during the time that the temperature was too low -- you know you can cook to sterilization over 31 hours. However, no amount of cooking will have an effect on any toxins that may have been produced during the period when the power was off. If, for example, you had some Clostridium botulinum growing in there and excreting botulin toxin during that period, you can cook those ribs until the cows come home and they'll still kill you dead as a doornail if you eat them. Probably this didn't happen... but it's a risk you can't take.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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MichaelB, I've searched for the shrink bags before and could only find them in huge quanities. Suitable for commercial operations but way more than I need. I specifically asked Nathan and he didn't know of any.

That chudypaper site doesn't have an online catalog - maybe an email enquiry would lead to more info?..

Thanks Edsel. I will take a place that works in commercial quantities. I have friends etc. that I can become the supplier to.

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Thanks, slkinsey.

I figured that to be safe, that was what I was going to have to do. Well, I got some replacement short ribs, and I plugged the circulator into a non-resetting plug (I know, I should have been doing that the whole time...lessons learned).

The first time I did these short ribs, I did a 36-hour process and it was great, but I really wanted to see how the meat's texture would change after 12 more hours. But the dinner party's tomorrow night, so 31 hours will have to do. :-)

I think you have to toss the short ribs...Clostridium botulinum...it's a risk you can't take.

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I am looking for the specialty type vacuum bag that once it is vacuum sealed can be placed in 95C water for a few seconds.  The sealed bag shrinks to closely conform to the shape of the material in the bag.  The thusly shrunk bag  and contents can then be processed as normal in a water bath.

Gotcha. You want something like Cryovac then?

http://www.sealedair.com/eu/en/products/food/bags.html


My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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I think you have to toss the short ribs.  It's not so much a matter of killing whatever bacteria might have grown during the time that the temperature was too low -- you know you can cook to sterilization over 31 hours.  However, no amount of cooking will have an effect on any toxins that may have been produced during the period when the power was off.  If, for example, you had some Clostridium botulinum growing in there and excreting botulin toxin during that period, you can cook those ribs until the cows come home and they'll still kill you dead as a doornail if you eat them.  Probably this didn't happen... but it's a risk you can't take.

Just a quick fact on that topic... did you know that just 30 grams of botulin toxin can kill everyone in the entire country? I find that to be quite incredible. I just found that out a few days ago. But don't get me wrong, Im still an advocate of sous vide, but I will no longer give the prep guy or someone not trained enough to do anything with sous vide cookery.

-Chef Johnny


John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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Fortunately Clostridium botulinum is killed by an acid environment, so if your recipe contains vinegar or lemon juice or wine its probably (but not definitely OK). Its why many old recipes and pickles are acidic. Even so I would not feed them to the very old or young or the immune challenged. Might eat them myself tho.

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