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KaffirLime

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 4)

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I can definitely recommend the Jaccard. I now use it on just about every steak, even on the finest filet and also some other meats like lamb or venison. I would be willing to bet that many of us have tried Jaccarded meat without knowing.

I have found a few different models of Jaccard online -- could you all recommend a particular one?

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Emonster - get the biggest one you can afford - it makes it less effort to cover the entire area of your meat. I bought. I believe, the 40 blade one that has removable covers and a cartridge for the blades.

The benefit of this is that you just remove the blades and have easy cleaning access to the blades and the mechanism.

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I received the following reply from the UK Microbiological Safety Division, Food Standards Agency, that may be of interest.

"There are no guidelines that are laid down in any UK or EU regulations for Sous Vide foods. The Agency is aware that Sous Vide is a cooking style that is becoming popular and may be looking into it further."

The FSA does have guidance on the cold storage of vacuum packaged food, and they can be found at:

http://www.food.gov.uk/foodindustry/guidan...oodguid/vpguide

However, their guidance only relates to the prevention of C. botulinum and cook-chill style sous vide cooking.

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I can definitely recommend the Jaccard. I now use it on just about every steak, even on the finest filet and also some other meats like lamb or venison. I would be willing to bet that many of us have tried Jaccarded meat without knowing.

I've all but stopped using it with the finer beef cuts - it's so damn effective that I find it makes even sirloin and some well-aged rump steaks simply too tender. With lean, rare meat a little resistance is part of the appeal for me. Definitely a bargain item for using with the tougher cuts, though, and for its effect on juice retention. Every home should have one. :wink:

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I got the Deni 48 blade tenderizer becasue it was much cheaper, the 48 blade catridge one was like an extra 15 bucks at the time.

I am very happy with the device and it does make everything very tender and while it says dishwasher safe I am hesitant to put it in there lest it dulls the blades. However its also very difficult to clean otherwise so it may be the only way. Other then that I am very happy with it and I am not sure if the removable cartridge makes it easier to clean but i imagine so.


Edited by NY_Amateur (log)

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I bought the official Jaccard one with the removable cartridge. It does make cleaning very easy since it just snaps out and you can throw it in the dishwasher. This doesn't dull the blades in any way.

I think ease of cleaning is very important since you are using it with raw meat and you want it to be thouroughly clean if you are pushing whatever is on the surface of the blade deep into the meat that you will be sealing up and SVing...

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This is my first post on these fora and I want to start out by thanking all of you who have pioneered the sous vide technique for use in the home; people like me are basically catching a free ride on your coattails, and I do thank you for your previous efforts. This post is kinda wordy so feel free to jump to the end to read the question I am posing :raz:

The equipment I have purchased for this sous vide pursuit includes an Auberins PID controller plus a couple of rice cookers. I'm previously very familiar with PIDs, having installed a couple of them from the individual components years ago in the two commercial heat exchanger espresso machines that grace my kitchen. As an aside, the application of PID controllers to sous vide cooking is hugely less involved than what one has to deal with in a large espresso machine, but I digress.

When I ordered the sous vide equipment, I ordered the controller plus one of those massive 20 cup SS Tiger America rice cookers, from costco.com. The rice cooker took a rather circuitous route to me courtesy of UPS, so it did not arrive until this afternoon, a few days later than scheduled. In the interim I decided to pick up a smaller rice cooker at our local overpriced drug store, and this is what I am writing to ask about today. I have yet to use the 20 cup Tiger, which has 4.5 times the water volume of the smaller "10 cup" Rival model I purchased earlier.

The little Rival rice cooker, rated at 400 watts, will hold about 700 ml of water when full. I foodsavered a 9 oz piece of previously frozen wild sockeye salmon filet yesterday, and sous vided it for 18 minutes at 120F. The surrounding water volume was at least 4x the mass/volume of the vacuum packed salmon, and the controller had no difficulty maintaining the set point temperature within a degree, even though I was too lazy to autotune it to this small rice cooker (I had previously done a dry run with just water in the rice cooker and it did not over or undershoot much over a period of half an hour). I found the resulting fish to be undercooked to my taste, but of course that is a matter of personal preference and perhaps my taste will change. In any event, the degree of doneness appeared to be consistent throughout.

My question is this: I haven't read any posts here or elsewhere about using a very small volume rice cooker for sous vide if one is preparing a very small quantity of food. I am single and cook for myself most of the time, although I do enjoy entertaining as well.

As long as one is surrounding the food to be cooked in enough mass of water that the controller can maintain a stable temperature, and there is several times more water surrounding the plastic vacuumed pouch, is there any reason why a smallish rice cooker (or other device) cannot be used for sous viding rather than using a large cooker such as the Tiger rice cooker I have also purchased?

Thanks in advance for any information and once again, thanks for all the information that has been posted both here and elsewhere that those of us just starting with this technique can take advantage of!

Ken Fox

EDIT: The inside liner of the small Rival rice cooker (model # RC101) indicates the pot holds 1.0 liter, however I measured the capacity by pouring water in with a measuring cup. Surprisingly, it holds 2 liters with the water level nowhere near the rim (e.g. a usable level). I'm thinking about buying a second controller and another rice cooker intermediate in size between the two I have, which will give the possibility of cooking more than one sous vide item at a time, plus the ability to appropriately size the cooker to what it is that is going to be cooked without wasting too much energy in the process.


Edited by Ken Fox (log)

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I see no reason why a small cooker cannot be used.

As you said, the fish was evenly cooked, and the temperature reasonably accurate.

There are purists who will say you need temperature control within 0.1C, but for the majority what you have is more than adequate and much better than conventonal cooking.

You may want to consider a small grid to keep the food off the bottom of the cooker, where the temperatue may be different.

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I was wondering about beef bourguignon SV.

Can anyone suggest appropriate cooking times?

I'm using stewing beef - say silverside cut into slices 2 inches x 1/4 inch thick.

Normally I'd cook fairly hot (its a stew) but the loss of moisture from the meat will not mix well withthe traditional starch thickened sauce

Seems to me there are two approaches:

a) Cook hot, say 72C for 12 hours or more and use the emat juices as the (thin) sauce

or

b) Cook at 58C so the meat retains its moisture but for a really long time, maybe 36 hours, and include a traditional starch based roux.

Any experience, suggestions...

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...  The rice cooker took a rather circuitous route to me courtesy of UPS, so it did not arrive until this afternoon, a few days later than scheduled.  In the interim I decided to pick up a smaller rice cooker ...  I have yet to use the 20 cup Tiger, which has 4.5 times the water volume of the smaller "10 cup" Rival model I purchased earlier.

The little Rival rice cooker, rated at 400 watts, will hold about 700 ml of water when full.  ...

My question is this:  I haven't read any posts here or elsewhere about using a very small volume rice cooker for sous vide if one is preparing a very small quantity of food.  I am single and cook for myself most of the time, although I do enjoy entertaining as well.

As long as one is surrounding the food to be cooked in enough mass of water that the controller can maintain a stable temperature, and there is several times more water surrounding the plastic vacuumed pouch, is there any reason why a smallish rice cooker (or other device) cannot be used for sous viding rather than using a large cooker such as the Tiger rice cooker I have also purchased? ...

EDIT:  The inside liner of the small Rival rice cooker (model # RC101) indicates the pot holds 1.0 liter, however I measured the capacity by pouring water in with a measuring cup.  Surprisingly, it holds 2 liters with the water level nowhere near the rim (e.g. a usable level).  I'm thinking about buying a second controller and another rice cooker intermediate in size between the two I have, which will give the possibility of cooking ...  without wasting too much energy in the process.

First off, "Welcome to eGullet" ! :smile:

Regarding using a "very small" water bath.

1/ You'll chill the water more (and change the level more) when you put your bagged food in.

-- this will matter greatly for "non-equilibrium" sv cooking. (Typically this is implied by a time given as a short and precise number of minutes.) I wonder if this might have contributed to your first effort being "undercooked"?

2/ Because of the temperature drop, you are going to depend on the PID controller to get it back to temperature asap, yet _without_ significant temperature overshoot. My guess is that the less the thermal mass (ie the less water), then the less the temperature response will be 'deadened' - and so, absent the PID, the more 'overshoot' would be likely. The smaller the vessel, the more important it is that the PID controller be correctly (particularly accurately) setup.

3/ The more "crowded" the waterbath, the less good will be the natural heat circulation. So the more crowded, the more uneven the heat in the bath. So the more important it becomes to both do something about helping the temperature even out, and keeping the temperature probe (the measurement position) in the most representative position. People have said an aquarium bubbler makes a cheap and simple stirrer. You might tie your probe to a bamboo skewer so as to locate the sensor at a specific depth in the pot. Things like cake-racks and trivets can be employed to keep your bags from touching the bottom of the pot. And sieves can be refashioned to help keep them submerged! A tiny bit of work on the pot lid should allow it to sit flat, seal pretty well, yet let the probe wire emerge (and the bubbler/circulator enter).

Regarding different baths and PIDs.

You can simulate a smaller bath by only partially filling a big one.

Unless you want to use the things at the same time (maybe at different temperatures), there's no need for a second PID or for a third, mid-size bath.

However, when using the same PID with different baths (or the same bath&heater filled to different levels) you will need different optimised P, I and D settings for each configuration.

You may want to experiment with a (borrowed, hired) laboratory accurate thermometer to check the temperature accuracy of your probe setup.

And then spend some time experimenting to get good settings for P, I and D for the various configurations you may be using.

I'd suggest some bagged water as many time re-usable dummy loads. (Hint: bag as ice cubes, then thaw!) If you are thinking of cooking 2x 100g pieces of fish, make a couple of 100g water bags. Not perfect, but close enough, surely!

The PID does two things for you. It keeps the waterbath temperature stable over the long term. Thats not so hard really for a simple, but high precision on/off thermostat and a 'large' bath with excellent circulation.

However where the PID really earns its keep is in its short-term response to temperature transients. Like putting in a quantity of fish that is 20% of the water mass, and 50C different in temperature - 'tuning' the PID to get the bath quickly back to temperature, without significant overshoot, is possible with a PID; it should be much faster, and with much less overshoot than a 'bang-bang' controller.

Hence, I think tuning your controller response (for different bath configurations) to give rapid response without overshoot (by waterbag experiments) is likely to be even more important, the smaller your waterbath (because the transients are likely to be larger).

You should be able to record the best settings for different configs and re-enter the appropriate settings whenever you use a specific configuration.

It sounds to me that it would be hard to justify buying more kit on the basis of energy saving.

The amount of energy used is pretty tiny.

Although your small pot is rated at 400 watts, that's maximum, flat out, when bringing rice to the boil, and it won't be using anything like that to just maintain a low simmer temperature.

However, improving the insulation of the rice cooker might make a measurable difference to energy consumption.

But remember that changing the insulation is going to change the ideal P, I and D settings, even if everything else remains the same.

Improving the insulation is also going to slow the temperature "fall-off" after an overshoot. So, increasing the risk of overcooking on the overshoot.

The better insulated the pot, as with the smaller the pot, the more critical the PID settings become. IIRC there was something in Auber's application notes discouraging use of an insulated pot, quite possibly for this very reason.

This also suggests that the 'room temperature' should be constant-ish for a specific PID/pot/settings configuration, as great differences (15C?) would noticeably affect the rate of heat loss from the pot, just like changing its insulation.


Edited by dougal (log)

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First off, thanks for your lengthy and quite valid responses!

I had independently decided that the tiny Rival rice cooker was going to be suboptimal for anything other than a very tiny "food load," such as maybe a few scallops or something else small, like an entrée for one person. I'm pretty sure at this point that my "suboptimal" results the first time out were related to the food load being a bit too large for the size of the appliance.

On Friday I received the Tiger 20 cup commercial rice cooker, model #JNO-A36U, the same upper end model sold (as one option) by the Sous Vide Magic (Auberins) dealer in Toronto, although I bought it from costco.com. I successfully prepared a chicken breast last night which I will try at a slightly lower temperature the next time, but which came out well.

The Tiger rice cooker is ENORMOUS, and from a practical standpoint I do not want to be tying up so much kitchen counter space with this thing except on occasions where I might have large quantities of food to prepare. I have therefore already purchased a 10-cup sized (5L) rice cooker from ebay which should arrive next week and which (I expect) will become my primary sous vide device. I will likely also buy an aquarium bubbler the next time I'm in a pet store that has one for sale.

I want to raise another couple of issues about PID controllers and cooker modifications, however this post is getting to be so long that appending these issues here will make it too long, so I'll start a separate post below addressing these issues and asking for further advice . . . .

Thanks again!

Ken

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I come to this forum having spent a great deal of time previously working with PID controllers in commercial espresso machines. The goal in using a PID in an espresso machine is to try to attain a degree of espresso shot temperature control that is not normally delivered by the equipment in the stock configuration(s). People who have perused the Auberins website will notice that the site also sells some preconfigured PID equipment that is intended to be installed in certain (simple) espresso machines. The more adventurous among us in the "espresso community" have installed similar equipment in more complex machines, buying the controller (most often a Fuji PXR3), an SSR, and a heatsink separately then cobbling together a custom install. It is also very common in the espresso community to "hack" the espresso machines themselves in order to achieve various objectives. Although way outside of the scope of this post, I think it is fair to say that the application of PID technology to sous vide cooking is far simpler and straightforward than is encountered by espresso machine enthusiasts, who must deal with a system that is constantly being "perturbed" by such actions as making espresso shots and expelling large amounts of steam through a steam wand (massive heat loss) in the process of frothing milk.

But I digress :biggrin:

I'm eager (probably TOO eager) to hack (modify) equipment when it doesn't suit my needs. One obviously needs to consider such issues as potential damage to equipment and safety before proceeding. People using complex water bath systems are presumably designing them as "one-offs," so they are modified from the beginning, but is it common for people using simpler devices, such as rice cookers, to modify them physically for sous vide cooking?

I have been trying to get the huge Tiger rice cooker to "behave" under PID control. There IS a warning on the Auberins documentation about the hyperinsulated commercial rice cookers not being satisfactorily controlled with the PID unless they are operated with the lid opened. This was certainly my observation yesterday in trying to "tame" this beast . . . .

Basically, the heating element produces a LOT of heat in this very well insulated cooker, with the impact of this heat production being delayed, and by the time that the PID controller has shut off the power to the element, due to the setpoint having been reached, the heat continues to rise and there is considerable overshoot of several degrees which takes a long while to reverse (and during which time your food would be "overcooked.")

So far I have tried the following, none of which has (yet) worked all that well:

(1) autotuning: this does not work and the autotune cycle would go on ad infinitum without resolution. I let the system try to autotune itself last night and after 5 hours gave up.

(2) modifying the PID parameters: I've been experimenting with bumping up the P to as high as 250 from the pre-set 180, and the i (which only goes up to 900, max, from the pre-set 700; I've also tried cutting the maximum heat output in the "155 menu" both by itself and in concert with the "P" and "i" modifications. Also, I tried using the "warming" button setting rather than the "heating" setting, however the 52 watts this produces is inadequate to maintain temperatures.

Obviously, these things interract, and although one might curtail overshoot, if this is at the expense of the equipment taking too long to get back to the desired temperature after the food pouch(es) are introduced, then this could be a net negative in spite of better control of overshoot. One could compensate however by preheating the water bath a few degrees above the desired cooking temperature, and with the reduction one gets on introduction of the food, the desired result (stable temps when actually cooking the food) could be obtained.

(3) modifying the rice cooker itself: I took the inner lid off the top and found there were 8 phillips head screws holding the lid together. I removed these and found a soft plastic/silicone seal, insulation, and wiring that presumably is for either an overheating safety mechanism, or is what triggers the cooker to go into "warming" mode rather than "heating" mode after the rice is cooked. Either way, this wiring can best be viewed as a safety mechanism that should not be disturbed. I decided not to modify the rice cooker at this time and reassembled it. My impression is that one could remove the insulation, and probably also the metal piece residing in the steam vent, which would (by reducing the insulation) probably reduce the temperature overshoot period and would give a large port for introducing an aquarium bubbler line plus the probe from the Auberins controller.

My questions at this point are if anyone has come up with a set of PID parameters that work well with this sort of cooker, and failing that (or in combination with that) has anyone "hacked"/modified the rice cooker itself in a way consistent with safe operation, and if so, what were those modifications and what are your results?

These modifications are so simple in comparison to many I have done on espresso machines, that I am eager to try them out, however given my total lack of experience with this sort of equipment and with sous vide cooking in general, I think I ought to step back a bit and see what others have done before I jump in with both feet . . . . .

Thanks for any suggestions.

ken


Edited by Ken Fox (log)

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Personally, I've no idea about that specific rice cooker.

But 1500 watts does seem like massive overkill - which might explain the problem.

I'm a trifle concerned by some references to 'electronic control'.

Ideally you want a totally dumb water heater. (Just like most espresso machines!)

So that the PID controller can do its job of dealing with perturbations without interference.

If the cooker is trying to think for itself, you are just going to be fighting it.

Are there two models, the 36U and the 360? Or is it a common typo across the 'net?

I found a pdf manual for the 360, and it mentioned rapid rice spoilage if the thing was even briefly switched off and on again during 'keep warm' (4th para, page 7). Which sounded to me like very unhelpful behaviour if being bossed by a PID controller.

Maybe you'll need to contact Fresh Meals Solutions in Toronto.

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I'd contact Fresh Meals Solutions if I had bought anything from them, but I think it would be impolite to do so being as I am not a customer :hmmm:

I checked the mfr's website before I ordered the rice cooker, and I believe there is only one model of this rice cooker, at least only one that is sold in the USA: http://www.tigeramerica.com/product_JNO.php I think there is either another model available elsewhere, or the other model was discontinued, or as you suggest, there is a common typo regarding model #s. This is not an electronic device in the sense that it has a brainboard or complex integrated circuits. The switch is mechanical, going between heating, warming, and off. In this way it is not dissimilar from other recommended mechanical rice cookers.

I agree that at least on reflection (now that I have bought the thing) it is overpowered for the application. It does, however, work just fine if you operate it with the lid up. I only observed about a degree or so of temperature variation during the hour plus that I cooked the chicken breast last night.

The power is only one issue, however, as I observed when I tried to use the thing on reduced power through the "155 menu" on the Auberins controller. Even going down to 20 or 25% power, the same behavior is observed albeit reduced in magnitude. What happens is that by the time that the controller "realizes" that the temperature setpoint has been reached, there is still a lot of potential temperature gain to follow coming off of the heating element whose impact on the internal container is a bit delayed in time. This characteristic of this commercial rice cooker is then magnified by the heavy duty insulation which prevents the heat from getting out quickly. Since no PID controller working solely on a heating element can possibly do anything about excessive heat (other than to wait for it to be vented off), the period of overshoot in this hyperinsulated rice cooker is extended.

I think that the mention of rice spoilage in the manual has to do with the fact that these things are designed for use in (Asian) restaurants, and they contain massive quantities of cooked rice when they go onto the warming phase. If the thing was to sit for hours, unheated, in a restaurant setting where the public health is at risk, I can see the cause for alarm.

Finally, your comment about "most espresso machines" behaving like a "totally dumb water heater" is certainly true if you are talking about very cheap low end machines which hugely outsell those that are sold to enthusiasts. The higher end machines that enthusiasts buy nowadays (costing, say, ~$1000 at retail and up) contain a plethora of brain boxes and other integrated circuits that can control everything from boiler temperature to shot extraction pressure to shot volume to boiler fill.

I have two different single group commercial espresso machines, both Cimbali Juniors. One was manufactured in around 1985 and the other about 10 years later. The older one is, as you suggest, a relatively simple and dumb machine (or at least it was before I hacked the crap out of it :biggrin: ). The newer one, which I have also extensively modified, has most of its various behaviors controlled by a brain board, whose replacement would probably cost about a third of what I paid for the whole machine!

ken

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I made some salmon mi cuit tonight:

gallery_61429_3_35318.jpg

This ended up being part of a delicious meal:

gallery_61429_3_43471.jpg

The recipe I used was from here. A full write up and more photos can be found in the blog on my signature.

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I was wondering about beef bourguignon SV.

Can anyone suggest appropriate cooking times?

I'm using stewing beef - say silverside cut into slices 2 inches x 1/4 inch thick.

Normally I'd cook fairly hot (its a stew) but the loss of moisture from the meat will not mix well withthe traditional starch thickened sauce

Seems to me there are two approaches:

a) Cook hot, say 72C for 12 hours or more and use the emat juices as the (thin) sauce

or

b) Cook at 58C so the meat retains its moisture but for a really long time, maybe 36 hours, and include a traditional starch based roux.

Any experience, suggestions...

I have made it with generic stew meat (trimmed). I have used 142F for 18 hours. The question I was asked was what cut of steak did I use? I have found that with dishes of this type, I use a 2/3 wine reduction and cooked vegetables, although celery should have the strings removed. I did not use and additional liquid other than 2Tbs of the reduced wine. It resulted in a thin, rich sauce which consisyed of the wine and liquid from the meat. I plan to experiment with a low temp thickener such as arrowroot frozen with the wine.

By the way, I found Japanese ice cube trays with 1 Tbs cubes.

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did u consider trying doing the potatoes 83 C in the water bath and just doing a potato crush with them instead of a traditional purée?

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Nope this never even crossed my mind. I wonder what a good time would be, 30 -45 minutes? I could definitely put the butter in there but I wonder how the milk would do frozen, only one way to find out I guess. Definitely a good idea though.

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it would probably be fine frozen, but i don't know if you'd need it if you're not puréeing the potatoes... scallions would probably rule tho

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so im doing sous vide pork belly soon. thing is, im gonna have to let it share a bath with some other things, so i need it to be 64 C. i figure this will be totally fine, since ive seen recommended cooking temps range from 60 up to 88 (!) celsius. if i brine it overnight first, for how long should i keep it in? would 30h be fine?

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I don't think brining will significantly affect cook time, but I also don't have any insight into times and temps for pork belly. I say try it and let us know ;) My gut feeling (based on absolutely nothing) is that you will be fine at 30hr.

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so im doing sous vide pork belly soon. thing is, im gonna have to let it share a bath with some other things, so i need it to be 64 C. i figure this will be totally fine, since ive seen recommended cooking temps range from 60 up to 88 (!) celsius. if i brine it overnight first, for how long should i keep it in? would 30h be fine?

I've done it at that temperature without brining for 24 hours. They were fork tender but the fat, while cooked, still had not turned fully buttery. 30 hours may give an even better product.

Let us know how it goes.

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I don't think that increasing the time will be much help where fat rendering is concerned -- when I do briskets for 48 hours at 64C there isn't much difference where the fat is concerned from how it is after 24 hrs (however the meat itself is more tender).

Fatty cuts cooked at temps like this need to be trimmed of fat more than when using conventional methods since there does seem to be a threshold below which the fat won't render much at all even when left for a long time (collagen on the otherhand will break down at these lower temps when left long enough).

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Seems like quite a few people were looking for a place to buy SV/immersion circulators - I got a different dilemma: after upgrade I want to sell mine. What's the best way of doing it - eBay, Craig's list, some other site? Any suggestions?

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I'd say ebay and emphasize that it was used for cooking is very clean is in good working order, etc. I bet you could get a decent sum fairly easily.

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      The moment that Ferran Adria strode towards Thomas Keller on the stage at the CIA/Greystone’s World of Flavors’ “Spain and the World Table” Conference was electric -- as if a giant Van de Graf generator had been turned on. The feeling didn’t subside when Adria took the stage from Keller; it only became more pronounced as the packed crowd rose to its feet, raining applause, admiration and love on the Spanish master. Adria accepted the response with aplomb, and gave it right back to the audience -- and to his fellow Spanish cocineros, who were standing off to the side. He brought each one up to join him on the stage for a rousing thank-you to the conference organizers, sponsors and participants. Once this emotional release subsided, Adria got down to what everyone had been waiting for -- his discussion and demonstration.

      Ferran Adria, with eyes sparkling like the finest cava, began speaking Spanish in a voice as gravelly as the beaches of the Costa Brava, while Conference Chairman Jose Andres translated. The crowd, hushed and straining for every word, moved forward in their seats as Adria explained El Bulli and himself, with a lesson in recent culinary history thrown in. Ferran explained that El Bulli is not a business. While offshoots of El Bulli are operated on a for-profit basis, the restaurant runs without profit as a primary motivation. For example, he said, the greatest difficulty they have is distributing reservations. Given the extraordinary demand and the severely limited supply, he explained that they could simply raise the price of a meal to the point where the supply and demand met. Indeed, the price of a meal at El Bulli is in itself quite reasonable given the stature of the restaurant and well within means of most motivated diners should they be able to get there, and this is how Adria prefers it. He stated that he was not interested in cooking solely for those with the most money. He prefers to work for people with a true interest in exploring the limits of cooking with him. To this end he showed a short film depicting “A Day in the Life . . .” of El Bulli set to the Beatles’ song of the same name. The film showed a couple’s response to the experience.

      Ferran’s voyage into creativity began with a visit to Jacques Maxima at Le Chanticleer Restaurant in Nice, France. He learned from Maxima that to be creative is not to copy. This idea changed his entire approach to cooking -- from making classic cuisine to making his own. Aware of elaborate books of French cuisine, Adria resolved to catalogue his work, the results of which are the richly detailed El Bulli books, published by period. These books, as wonderful as they are, are huge and extremely expensive. During his presentation, Adria announced -- and demonstrated -- that the individual dishes photographed and described in a chronology within each book are all now available online at elbulli.com.

      He finished the philosophical discussion by talking about the general style of haute cuisine that he and others are engaged in. While others have coined the term “molecular gastronomy” to highlight the scientific component of the creativity involved, Adria rejected it, saying that all cooking is molecular: most of his techniques are in fact rather simple and don’t employ radical new technology. Most of the technology that they do use has been around for some time; they have simply adapted it to their own purposes. Nevertheless, he applauds contributions to gastronomy from Harold McGee and other food scientists, and welcomes their collaboration in the kitchen. He has yet to find a term that describes the movement: as of now, he feels that there really is no good name for this style of cooking.

      More than any other single thing, Ferran Adria is known for the use of “foams” in cooking. While he is proud of his achievements with foams, he stressed that while appropriate in some circumstances, the real utility of foams is limited. He bemoans their ubiquity -- and wishes to not be blamed for others’ poor deployment of the concept. In the course of describing this and other techniques, Adria made a point of stating that using them should not be inferred as copying. Techniques and concepts are to be used and shared. He invited everyone to learn and harness whatever they found interesting, and to employ it in to their own pursuits.

      Another set of techniques discussed and demonstrated by the master and his assistant, Rafa Morales from Hacienda Benazuza, included three types of spherification. These included the use of calcium chloride (CaCl) and sodium alginate as well as the converse, and exploration of a new agent, gluconodeltalactone. The original combinations of alginate into CaCl for “caviar” production, and CaCl into alginate for larger “spheres” have chemistry-related limits as to what can be sphericized. In private correspondence, Harold McGee explained to me that Adria described encapsulating a mussel in its own juice. While this would make the dish technically an aspic, unlike conventional aspics it remains a liquid. Adria said that though gluconodeltalactone is very new, and they are just beginning to get a handle on it, he is very excited by it. He also demonstrated a machine for spherification on a larger scale than they had originally been able to do, as well as liquid nitrogen and freeze-drying (lyophilization) techniques. At the conclusion of his demonstration -- and thus the Conference -- the audience once again awarded him a standing ovation.

      While Adria’s appearance was the culmination of the conference, the energy it produced was not just because of his stature in the world of gastronomy -- it was also due to the excitement generated by the conference that preceded it. If there had previously been any doubt, Thomas Keller’s welcome of Adria was a clarion: Spanish cuisine has landed on North American shores and is finding a niche in the North American psyche. Spanish cuisine -- in its multifaceted, delicious entirety -- lives here, too.

      + + + + +

      John M. Sconzo, M.D., aka docsconz, is an anesthesiologist practicing in upstate New York. He grew up in Brooklyn in an Italian-American home, in which food was an important component of family life. It still is. His passions include good food, wine and travel. John's gastronomic interests in upstate northeastern New York involve finding top-notch local producers of ingredients and those who use them well. A dedicated amateur, John has no plans to ditch his current career for one in the food industry. Host, New York.
    • By docsconz
      About Jose Andres
       
      Throughout his career, Jose’s vision and imaginative creations have drawn the praise of the public, the press and his peers. José has received awards and recognition from Food Arts, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, the James Beard Foundation, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate. In addition, José has been featured in leading food magazines such as Gourmet as well as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Good Morning America, Fox Sunday Morning News with Chris Wallace, the Food Network, and USA Today.
       
      Widely acknowledged as the premiere Spanish chef cooking in America, José is a developer and Conference Chairman for the upcoming Worlds of Flavor Conference on Spain and the World Table at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, November 2 – 5, 2006.
       
      In 1993, Jose moved to Washington, DC, to head the kitchen at Jaleo. From there, Jose took on executive chef responsibilities at neighboring Café Atlantico and later Zaytinya. In July of 2003, Jose embarked on his most adventurous project to date with the opening of the minibar by jose andres at Cafe Atlantico. A six-seat restaurant within a restaurant, minibar by jose andres continues to attract international attention with its innovative tasting menu. In the fall of 2004, Jose opened a third Jaleo and Oyamel, an authentic Mexican small plates restaurant and launched the THINKfoodTANK, an institution devoted to the research and development of ideas about food, all with a view toward their practical applications in the kitchen.
       
      Every week, millions of Spaniards invite Jose into their home where he is the host and producer of “Vamos a cocinar”, a food program on Television Española (TVE), Spanish national television. The program airs in the United States and Latin America on TVE Internacional.
       
      Jose released his first cookbook this year, first published in English, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (published in the United States by Clarkson Potter) and shortly after in Spanish, Los fogones de José Andrés (published by Planeta). The book is an homage to Spanish cooking and to tapas, one of Spain's gifts to the world of good cooking.
       
      Jose Andres is passionate, intelligent, dedicated, witty and a fan of FC Barcelona.
       
      Jose has been a member of the eGullet Society since 2004.
       
      More on Jose Andres in the eG Forums:
      Cooking with "Tapas" by Jose Andres
      Vamos a Cocinar - cooking show with Jose Andres
      Jaleo
      José Andrés' Minibar
      Zaytinya
      Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Crystal City
      Cafe Atlantico
       
      Jose Andres recipes from Tapas in RecipeGullet:
      Potatoes Rioja-Style with Chorizo (Patatas a la Riojana)
      Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew
      Squid with Caramelized Onions
    • By gibbs
      With Modernist Cuisine I waited a couple of years and ended up with a copy from the 6th printing run the advantage of this was that all errors picked up in the erratta had been corrected in the print copy.  I am looking to get modernist bread soon and wondered if someone had purchased it recently to check or if someone knew of hand if they have printed any additional corrected runs 
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