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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 7)


Guy MovingOn
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I won't bother to report on several chicken breast escapades (five spice and schmaltz; basic butter with S&P) here, as they merely repeat a truism on this topic: SV is an amazing way to prepare that protein.

Has anyone had success with swordfish? There are some mediocre to bad trials up-topic, but no one seems to have a rave yet.

Chris Amirault

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Just to comment. I recently had a big sous vide test night. Cooked ribeye, a couple different vegetables and pork loin all finished on the grill. When it came to the swordfish that someone brought I just grilled it. I'd say it's one of the hardest fish to get right but it the case of these 2 inch steaks, I just went traditional.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

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On the face of it, though, swordfish seems like just the protein to benefit from SV: usually cut relatively thick but even; often overcooked in standard high-heat applications. Is there something about the type of fish that makes it unsuitable for SV?

Given how much it costs -- even when on sale as it was today -- I'm not likely to be doing much experimenting....

Chris Amirault

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I haven't noticed it posted here yet, but y'all should have a look at the excellent article in today's NYTimes on "Modernist Cuisine":

www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/dining/22cookbook.html?_r=1&ref=dining

I hope I live close enough to regularly visit someone who can afford to buy Nathan's obviously amazing work.

Has there been previous discussion of the possibility of digital/DVD/etc. or online access to it?

Cheers, Mark

Yeah the price was a bit higher then i had thought, but it also seems like its a heck of a lot of knowledge so i think I will be pinching my pennys to get a copy when it comes out.

I'm not a big swordfish fan but I have had good success with monkfish tail thats sv'ed at 60C and then blotted dry and seared then sliced into medallions swordfish is a bit flakier so i would maybe try 55C. I would try this but im not a big fan so i will take a pass, but i am interested in hearing about successes.

edit: nm about the brisket went back and saw previous posts on it, its been a while since i have read this thread.

Edited by NY_Amateur (log)
Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.
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I've cooked swordfish Chris and it comes out perfectly. It is so easy to overcook normally. Sous vide cooking gives the perfect amount of heat control to bring out the best of what I consider to be the steak of the sea.

Edited to add:

For temperature I'd do 53 - 55 C (127.4 - 131F). Timing will depend on thickness. 2 inch fillet like Scotty Boy used could probably take around two hours to reach a correct core temperature. Sear very briefly before serving.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
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Harold McGee, On Food & Cooking makes three interesting statements on swordfish (and tuna as well):

page 185: swordfish (and tuna) as a long-lived predator at the top of the food chain may accumulate significant amounts of toxins, especially mercury.

page 202: Atlantic stock of swordfish is thought to be down to less than a tenth its original size and in need of protection.

page 209: in swordfish, enzymes and some proteins in muscle cells are not locked in the contracting fibrils and furthermore coagulate at higher temperatures than myosin, so when myosin coagulates and squeezes out cell fluids including these proteins and enzymes, at 55°C and above these proteins coagulate in the spaces between the cells and glue the cells together, thus making the meat more chewy.

So for swordfish and tuna it might be wise to restrict target temperature to 50°C or below, and a 5cm steak may take 2½ - 3 hrs.

BTW here's a trick how to transfer fish into the skillet for searing without falling apart: lay the bag flat on a cutting board, with a sharp knife cut the bag open all around the fish, remove the top layer and the sideward strips of the bag and slide the fish into the skillet.

Edited by PedroG (log)

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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I don't cook at those temperatures so my understanding is not based on detailed reading of the literature. As I said above, I'm looking for guidance not a debate.

Looking back over the thread, NathanM said in this thread that he wouldn't cook fish at a low temperature for more than a few hours. Just wondering what if anything has changed.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
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I think that you may be referring to the problem that these temperatures are well below the pastaurisation temperatures.

Bacteria will grow and not be killed at these temperatures. The usual safe time is taken at that for a 10x growth of pathogens. The speed of growth depends on the temperature. The FDA codes appear to be based on a maximum of a 10x generations (doubling) of pathogens such as Listeria onocytogenes at 41ºF and Salmonella / Staphylococcus aureus at 115ºF. At 50C/122F this is 5.6 hours - the code specifies consumption within 4 hours of moving to an unsafe temperature. See, for example CALCULATING THE TOTAL GROWTH OF BACTERIA IN COOKED FOOD USING THE FDA CODE CONTROLS by O. Peter Snyder available online at http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents2001/time-temp-calculations.html

If you cook for 3 hours at these temperatures, then you need to be sure that the food is consumed within an hour or so, less than 4 hours from when it was removed from the fridge and that furthermore it was fresh, safe and had a low pathogen load before cooking. Maybe possible at home if you have a good fishmonger, but much harder in a restaurant or service environment

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I have avoided eating tuna for decades as it was always served gray throughout with a texture like well-done veal, until I was served rare tuna in a gourmet restaurant, which was a revelation. The discussion on swordfish made me consult St. Harold's bible and it gave me the scientific explanation why tuna (like swordfish) should not be cooked to 55°C or above. So tuna should only be bought in sushi grade quality as pasteurization conditions would overcook it.

The 2½ - 3 hrs. I mentioned above for a 5cm cut are of course a bit uncommon, as most fish fillets are much thinner and done in 30-45 minutes. And fish cooked for considerably longer time than necessary may get mushy; furthermore excessive vacuum as provided by chamber-type machines should be avoided*, ziploc bags are fine for fish.

* See Dave Arnold: "Boring but useful technical post: vacuum machines affect the texture of your meat"

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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When I cooked swordfish, it was a thinner cut and I took it to around 53C. It worked really well. Perhaps we should say that the thinner cuts (up to 3cm/1 inch) are best for doing sous vide as the cooking times for thicker cuts may be too long.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
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Terrific idea from Alton Brown about using the chimney charcoal starter as a high-heat grill. (Click here for the Amazon link, including pix, of a chimney charcoal starter.) I would imagine that it would be very effective for browning SV-ed meat quickly -- and a lot hotter than doing so after you've dumped the hot coals into your Weber kettle, as I have done a few times.

Chris Amirault

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I just made chili with ten pounds of chuck, doing all of the pre-simmer work on the stove and then sealing two whopping bags of the stuff for the SVS. 16 hours at 61C produced very good flavor and texture that was just this side of what I wanted (tender but toothy), so I finished with an hour or two on the stove (I had opened the bags and didn't want to reseal) in the Le Creuset dutch oven in which I served it to guests.

One thing I noted was that the effects of the prior SV/LTLT cooking seemed to be sustained on the stove; the meat had that succulent, remarkable consistency you get from this technique even though it spent a bit of time bubbling atop a burner significantly hotter than 61C. It may be that I was just being careful, or is it possible that 16 hours at 61F somehow makes the meat less likely to be overcooked later? Seems hard to justify scientifically with my limited knowledge....

Chris Amirault

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When I have done hanger steak it, I have cooked it 24 to 36 hours at 132F and it was super tender. It was very good but I didn't find it nearly as flavorful as skirt steak nor did it have the same lovely mouthfeel as the skirt steak. The hanger steak that I had would have been too tender if cooked longer. But I suspect there is a lot of variation in the quality of the steaks out there. I would check it at 24 hours and judge how much longer it needs.

I got hanger steak precut in cubes in a self-service. It was very cheap, so I suspect it must be from the tougher outer part. Any suggestions for time/temp? Acid marinade?

Thanks

Pedro

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Made a pork loin chunk last week at 137F for about eight hours. Just a little salt, pepper, liquid smoke. Came out OK but a bit dry. To be fair the product had been frozen at least six months, though Foodsavor vacuumed that held seal.

I have the last similar chunk (1.5#) in a brine to see if this will add moisture. I am looking for time and temp. Suggestions??

Thanks.

Alanjesq

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When I have done hanger steak it, I have cooked it 24 to 36 hours at 132F and it was super tender. It was very good but I didn't find it nearly as flavorful as skirt steak nor did it have the same lovely mouthfeel as the skirt steak. The hanger steak that I had would have been too tender if cooked longer. But I suspect there is a lot of variation in the quality of the steaks out there. I would check it at 24 hours and judge how much longer it needs.

Thanks! I do not know if it is skirt or hanger, the butcher said it is from the diaphragm and in German it is "Rinds-Leistenfleisch", it looks well marbled, the cubes are 15-25mm thick, I marinated and spiced it, the main portion will be 55°C/24h and a small portion will be just seared for comparison. The price was 2/3 the price of brisket.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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I'm not sure why it would have ended up dry at 137°F (sous vide, I assume): I've done plenty of conventional-oven pork roasts pulled out of the oven at 140°F and been happy with the moistness. Was the color what you were expecting? 137F should still be quite pink inside.

Chris Hennes
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Frankly, I'd cook it exactly the same way: I think that combined with brining, and the meat being fresher, your original plan should work just fine. The only thing you might consider is a shorter time: I don't recall how long you need to go to get the temp to 137, but there is probably no real advantage to going longer than that.

Chris Hennes
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How thick was the piece?

I agree with Chris, it should have been fine.

Must have been the meat rather than the cooking process. Was it one of those "moisture infused" chunks of pork?

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
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The chunk was about 1 and 1 /2 inches thick, which is about the same as the chunk in brine now, as they were all part of the same huge pork loin.

I purchased it at one of those Sams Clubs Manager Specials. Plain pork loin. No infusions.

Hopefully today's cook will yield a better result.

Thanks everyone for the help.

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If it is a skirt steak, you are in for a real treat. So far, everyone who has had my sous-vide skirt steak has said that it is the best beef they have had. Skirt steak I would cook for no longer than 24 hours. It comes out as tender as a high-quality filet and even more flavorful than a rib-eye. With a really nice luxurious mouth-feel. Sadly, in the U.S. skirt steak is no longer cheap like brisket. 15 years ago, it was a very cheap cut.

When I have done hanger steak it, I have cooked it 24 to 36 hours at 132F and it was super tender. It was very good but I didn't find it nearly as flavorful as skirt steak nor did it have the same lovely mouthfeel as the skirt steak. The hanger steak that I had would have been too tender if cooked longer. But I suspect there is a lot of variation in the quality of the steaks out there. I would check it at 24 hours and judge how much longer it needs.

Thanks! I do not know if it is skirt or hanger, the butcher said it is from the diaphragm and in German it is "Rinds-Leistenfleisch", it looks well marbled, the cubes are 15-25mm thick, I marinated and spiced it, the main portion will be 55°C/24h and a small portion will be just seared for comparison. The price was 2/3 the price of brisket.

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Yesterday's cook was outstanding. About five hours at 132 F. Tender, moist and delicious. Not sure if it was the brine or change in temp. Whatever? I will be using this as my standard cook for Pork Loin here on out. Thanks to all for your help.

alanjesq

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