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adey73

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 3)

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After reading through this amazing thread, I thought I might try and summarize the information into a brief guide for new (and old) users.  The first draft is linked below:

http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html

It is of course woefully incomplete, but I will continue to work on it in the coming weeks/months.  Any suggestions for improving the guide would be greatly appreciated.

This is great. Thanks Douglas

You made note that the Reynold's bags for the Handy Vac were okay for cooking in. Reynolds says not to cook in them. I've been tempted but haven't done it yet.

I did buy some oven roasting bags that I could use to double bag in the Handy Vac ones. Am I being too cautious?

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You are probably being overly cautious. Reynolds Handi-Vac bags were discussed at some length up thread, see posts: 1046-1048 and 1055-1060. I use them when I'm at my parents house (where they use a slow cooker with a Ranco ETC and air bubbler) and I cannot smell or taste the plastic bags.

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Has this been answered? What if I fill my water bath up with stock and cook all meats in a broth no bag...

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Has this been answered? What if I fill my water bath up with stock and cook all meats in a broth no bag...

That would be very precise poaching.

What are you planning to cook that way?

Not sure if you would have any advantages over using a bag?

unless you wanted to reduce the broth as you are going along.

but in that case i would just put another container into the water bath would be easy to clean afterward.

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I tried a somewhat interesting new sous vide application tonight: I made dashi. I was inspired by a post on Chadzilla about controlling umami through temperature:

http://chadzilla.typepad.com/chadzilla/200...olling-uma.html

Basically, it describes the importance of keeping the cooking temperature between 50C and 80C to maximize the production/retention of glutamates (umami) in your dashi: the kombu should never be cooked above 80C, and the bonito should never be cooked below 50C.

I put some water and a piece of kombu in an unsealed bag, and heated it in my water bath to 70C. After giving the bag some time to come up to temperature, I added the bonito, sealed it (though I did not bother sucking out the air), and kept it in the bath at 70C for 2.5 hours. I then strained the contents and voila, dashi.

The end product was very flavorful, and had none of the sliminess that can occur when you overheat kombu dashi on a stovetop. The bonito had broken down a bit and caused the broth to be slightly murky, but passing it through a very fine strainer took care of that. Was it necessarily better than dashi that an expert could make using the traditional method? Maybe not, but it was pretty much foolproof, and pretty easy. It may also be worth exploring what happens if I push the cooking times even longer.

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Great new Sous Vide tecnhique.

I read that at the time from Chadzilla, but what kind of quantities are you suggesting?

And forgive my eurocentrism but do you put anything in the soup after you've made it, can it be kept or can you use it as a "basic" stock?

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I usually eyeball the quantities: say for 3 cups of water, I might add a 3x3 inch square of kombu, and 1/8 cup of bonito flakes? There are dashi recipes out there that could probably give you more precise ratios.

The broth by itself is very light by Western standards, but is a base for a great number of Japanese soups and dishes: the easiest and most common probably being that it's the base for a miso soup. It doesn't keep well, and should usually be made the day of use. I often use small quantities of it as the base of light broth-like "sauces" for fish dishes: the SV approach would be perfect for making small batches.

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Well, 2 ventures into sous vide came out quite nicely this weekend.

First, rack of lamb at 56C for 2.5 hours. Packaged w/ sun dried tomato butter, s&p. Served with Rancho Gordo runner cannellini bean salad, rosemary.

gallery_52700_5773_323539.jpg

Next, salmon fillet at 46C for 50 mins. Citrus marinade, over orange confit. Served with Rancho Gordo Good Mother Stallard bean salad, Sriracha-mustard vinaigrette.

gallery_52700_5773_54542.jpg

Also, I'm still trying to figure out why my pictures are posting sideways. Any advice would be appreciated!


Edited by MikeHartnett (log)

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I have a question. Does "time" matter, or does only "internal temperature" matter? I never timed my sous vide; I just throw it in there and then can come back for it when I have the other elements of my cooking done (usually 1-2 hours). But for things like brisket, it takes a very long time because that's how long it takes to reach that temperature throughout the meat, or is the meat going to tenderize if you keep it at the ideal temperature for a couple hours?

I've heard of Heston Blumenthal cooking his duck legs SV for 48 hours! So the extra time has got to play a factor, not just internal temperature, right? So if I cooked lobster at 45C for 10 hours, will it be more tender than the one I cooked at 45C for two? Or is a 45C lobster still a 45C lobster?

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For a good discussion on why time is important, see NathanM's post #181. You can also see my sous vide web guide which goes into quite a bit of detail here. Basically, there are two time scales in sous vide: how long it takes to come up to temperature and how long it takes to dissolve the collagen into gelatin. The first strongly depends on the thickness of the meat, and can be approximately calculated using either NathanM's or my own tables. The long cooking times (8-48 hours) must be at or above 131F (55C) for food safety reasons (so no fish or rare meats); the long cooking times are only appropriate for tough meats, because a tender cut of meat would turn to mush.

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I've looked through the thread for info re: fruit sous vide, and I haven't found all that much. I'm curious as to whether anyone's using sous vide methods for anything other than traditional meat and fish, etc.

I'd be interested in hearing about experiences with anything unique.

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Other than preventing oxidation, it's not clear that sous vide cooking has any particular advantages when it comes to fruit. Using some of the sous vide equipment, it's possible to do some interesting effects with certain fruits -- for example, compressed fruits or fruits that are infused with other liquids by vacuuming the fruit in a liquid bath and then returning the fruit to atmospheric pressure, causing it to "suck" the liquid into the spaces previously occupied by air. But these things require a machine that can pull a pretty hard vacuum. I tried doing Negroni-infused cucumber using a vacuum container and a friend's FoodSaver the other day, and the infusion was only partially successful.

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I love the texture when I cook it for 1 hour at 68°C. I wonder if there is any difference in our results. My stalks were cooked but firm and retained their shape.

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Hi

has anyone tried using a laboratory digital hotplate for sous vide?

They are precise to 1 degree and have a temperature range from ambient up to 350C.

something like this

https://extranet.fisher.co.uk/insight2_uk/g...ltSetPosition=0

Looking at them on ebay seems like they cost a similar amount as pidding a rice cooker and are a less fiddly setup.

A lot cheaper then a used immersion circualtor or a dedicated hot waterbath and you can avoid having to cleanse it as you can just stick a normal pan on it.

Some even have an inbuilt magnetic stirrer so you can have water circualtion too.

The temperature range goes up to 350C could also use it as a deep fat fryer too.

Anyone see any problems with this setup?

a stirred digital hot plate with a 200mm deep, 1/2 aluminium gastronorm pan on top?


Edited by origamicrane (log)

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I have a question:

If you do this for service how can you minimize wastage? if you SV 15 lamb cutlets and then only sell 2 for service what do you do with the rest? What about having sous vide lamb on the menu and then running out?

Sorry this is more of a logistical thing, but I am interested to see how restaurants get around the very long cooking times and inflexibility of the technique?

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each cutlet would be individually vacuum packed and pre cooked, then cooled quickly and then put back into the fridge/freezer until required for service.

When an order comes in, you would stick 1 of the lamb cutlets into the water bath and bring it up to temperature.

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Origamicrane - I bought a similar unit to the one you asked about off of eBay. It works well but the problem is that the control of the unit is analog so it is a little difficult to set the temperature correctly however once set they are pretty good. I ended up Pidding mine as it is a lot easier just to punch in the correct temperature digitally.

One thing that I was thinking about trying with my unmodified unit is that it could effectively be used like a low cost Thermomix. Set the nice low temperature and activate the stirrer and you could make a nice hollandaise or risotto with little manual intervention. I haven't bought one of the special stir bars yet but plan on getting one from eBay.

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There are many options here.

The first big decision is between SV served immediately, and SV that is chilled, stored and reheated.

1. For very fast cooked items, you can cook to order and serve. Most fish dishes would be a good example, because I like cooking fish at a lower temp then would be a good idea for cook-chill-store. Cooking time is kept short so they can be cooked to order in the water bath or combi oven. The key to short times is to keep the pieces thin - cutting the thickness in half cuts cooking time by a factor of 4.

2. Food cooked up to sterilizing time-temperatures combinations (i.e. the FDA time-temperture tables) can be held at 130F/54C (or cooking temperature if higher than that) all through service. If you sell them - great - use them directly. If you don't sell them then at the end of service you can rapidly chill them and refriderate and treat like cook-chill-store SV - see below.

3. Or you can do cook-chill-store from the onset, in which case you cook the food SV, then rapidly chill (immerse in ice water, or use blast chiller).

4. Regardless of whether you chill right after cooking, or after service store the cooled bags no more than 4 days at 7C/45F, or 7 days at 5C/41F, or 1C/34F for 30 days (this is US FDA SV rules). Or if you freeze them, you have much longer. Reheat by putting into a water bath or combi-oven. The time table for reheating is the same as cooking in the first place - at least to come up to tempertaure.

So, as a pratical matter, with lamb cutlets, I would cook them at 130F/54C, probably for one to several hours (depends on cut of lamb, how tender I want them). I would hold them at that temp during service. If they don't sell do the chill-store at end of service. Then store cold until ordered at which point you can reheat them. However, once you have chilled them, keep them cold until reheat and serving - don't take them out reheat then re-chill etc.

With braised meat - say lamb shanks instead of cutlets, cooking time would be more like 160F/71C for 8 hours. You can then hold them during service at anywhere from 135F/58C to 160F/71C. If you don't sell them the first service then once again you chill and store.

Depending on what effect you want you could do final sear at the end, or at the beginning.

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Origamicrane - I bought a similar unit to the one you asked about off of eBay. It works well but the problem is that the control of the unit is analog so it is a little difficult to set the temperature correctly however once set they are pretty good. I ended up Pidding mine as it is a lot easier just to punch in the correct temperature digitally.

One thing that I was thinking about trying with my unmodified unit is that it could effectively be used like a low cost Thermomix. Set the nice low temperature and activate the stirrer and you could make a nice hollandaise or risotto with little manual intervention. I haven't bought one of the special stir bars yet but plan on getting one from eBay.

These things are great - I have several. I like them particularly for hydrating (dissolving) hydrocolloids. For SV they work fine. Note that you really must stir them - so those with integral magnetic stirrers work best. Also, you need to have one that has a temperature probe. The best ones are digital with a built in PID contoroller, but naturally they are more expensive. As mentioned above a PID controller can also be added to simple magnetic stirrer/hotplate if you into a bit of electronics hardware hacking.

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A few more sous-vide experiments from a recent game diner (link)

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Any thoughts on alternatives to hook your SousVideNMagic to?

I recently purchased a SousVideMagic unit so I could start experimenting. It arrived in good shape, and seems to work well. I then spent some time agonizing about the best heating unit to use it with - my first thought was a large. commercial type rice cooker, but I was having a hard time justifying the $300 cost.

I then purchased an Aroma brand home rice cooker at Sams Club (for $25!) and gave it a try - it seems to work fine, although clearly capacity is limited. So my plan for now is to use it and see how it works...

But, a few days later I ran across another option that seems ideal, although I have not seen anyone talk about using it instead of a rice cooker. What I saw was a free-standing table top "steam table" type warmer which is designed to be filled with water and than have a standard restaurant pan inserted into it. It seems like it would work great -cost is only about $100, it has major capacity compared to even the big rice cookers, it is designed to be able to maintain temp at 140 degrees + so should be able to cycle on and generate heat quickly, appears to have the coils on the bottom (not sides) like a rice cooker so should be decent for convection, is all stainless stell, and is rated at 1200 watts so should be ok with the controller. Almost seems to good to be true!

I'd appreciate any thoughts or input on if this would be a good idea, or if I should stick to a rice cooker...

Thanks!

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If you are on a budget, an inexpensive alternative that works well for larger volumes are the Rival tabletop roasters. I use one when I am cooking large cuts of meet like brisket or a rack of ribs. I use my smaller Presto multi-cooker for anything that will fit in it because the temperature stabilizes so quickly and there is rarely any overshoot.

There is a caveat with the table top roasters, you will need to tweak PID parameters and it takes some time for the temperature to become stable. Also, a $10 aquarium air pump is useful for making sure that there is enough circulation to keep the water temperature uniform since the heat comes for the sides (hence little natural convection). They run about $50 from Amazon and places like Fry's Electronics (if they have those where you live).

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Up thread, pounce mentioned using a counter top food warmer/steam table with a PID. When using a swamp cooler water pump to circulate the water, he said it worked just as well as an immersion circulator.

If a water pump (or air bubbler) is not necessary in a rice cooker, it may not be necessary in for a counter top food warmer either. Since I have an Auber PID and a food warmer, I will experiment with them this coming week and report back.

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Any thoughts on alternatives to hook your SousVideNMagic to?

I recently purchased a SousVideMagic unit so I could start experimenting.  It arrived in good shape, and seems to work well.  I then spent some time agonizing about the best heating unit to use it with - my first thought was  a large. commercial type rice cooker, but I was having a hard time justifying the $300 cost. 

I then purchased an Aroma brand home rice cooker at Sams Club (for $25!) and gave it a try - it seems to work fine, although clearly capacity is limited.  So my plan for now is to use it and see how it works...

But, a few days later I ran across another option that seems ideal, although I have not seen anyone talk about using it instead of a rice cooker.  What I saw was a free-standing table top "steam table" type warmer which is designed to be filled with water and than have a standard restaurant pan inserted into it.  It seems like it would work great -cost is only about $100, it has major capacity compared to even the big rice cookers, it is designed to be able to maintain temp at 140 degrees + so should be able to cycle on and generate heat quickly, appears to have the coils on the bottom (not sides) like a rice cooker so should be decent for convection, is all stainless stell, and is rated at 1200 watts so should be ok with the controller.  Almost seems to good to be true!

I'd appreciate any thoughts or input on if this would be a good idea, or if I should stick to a rice cooker...

Thanks!

I think it's a great idea. Particularly if the coils are all on the bottom. I have been using an old slow cooker with great success with the SousVideMagic and have wondered about something with a larger capacity for grander projects.

Love to have a link to the steam table warmer you have found.

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