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What's the Appeal of Cooking Sous Vide?


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U.E. did you go to Can Roca when you were in Barcelona recently? If you are doing a return trip and looking for an enlightening sous vide experience, I suggest you try the red mullet with cous cous of its liver.  The fish is cooked sous vide and the skin crisped separately, the cous cous is practically the texture of caviar... it is a truly wonderful dish.

Yes, I KNOW - (LOUD sigh of exasperation) :hmmm: I tried to get reservations, but because of timing (I had a short weekend to play with because I wasted a perfectly fine meal at Ca L'Isidre), I couldn't get in... I spent the meal, instead (to my surprise, at a rather empty, but very good) Can Fabes...

....sigh.... :sad: I just had lunch with another eGulleter who just went to Can Roca and the reports back have been really envy-provoking... sous vides at Can Roca... need to put that on my "to-eat" list...

Thanks Corinna! That egg sounds divine!! That's exactly the type of food I wished restaurants would serve more often and flaunt as having been prepared "sous vides" - it's unusual and can potentially be a showpiece for a creative/master chef's talents... (not that other food products can't - lest any other eGulleters get testy... :cool: ).

U.E.

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Eggs very temperature sensitive. See McGee p91

You need to cook them at about 145F/63C to within a degree or so, so that you set the most heat sensitive protein only. They become jelly like.

Too hot and you get hard boiled eggs, too cold and they stay raw.

Cook them in their shells if you don't have a complete vacuum sealer.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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Jack, thanks for this. It’s helped spark my memory… and as far as I recall, the egg was “egg shaped”, so presumably cooked in its shell. Thinking about it, I can’t imagine that there would be any advantage in vacuum packing it (is this a correct assumption?). The egg white was indeed “jellyish” as you suggest and the yolk was set although not “powdery”. It was a vivid yellow.

I just checked what I posted on the Can Roca thread, and apparently the egg was slow cooked for three hours at 63 C (145.4 F). I had a look at McGee, and I see what you mean about the different coagulation temperatures for the various protein types. He states that the whites begin to thicken at 145F and become a tender solid at 150F, but interestingly, “the major albumin protein, ovalbumin doesn’t coagulate until about 180F/80C, at which temperature the tender white gets much firmer.” He also mentions that the more heat resistant protein in the egg yolk is the last to coagulate, and its protein begins to thicken at 150F and set at 158F.

So, I’m puzzled as to why the egg I had was solid in the middle, given that the temperature should not have been high enough to set the proteins in the yolk. Surely with sous vide, the egg would “hold” for a while and not overcook? As mentioned earlier, I think that a soft yolk would have made for a more pleasing result. So U.E., it was an interesting dish that worked as a whole, (the butifarra oil was inspired) but not the most exciting example of sous vide cooking in my opinion.

Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)
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I also can't see any advantage in vacuum packing, but you might want to seal it in a close fitting plastic bag to stop flavour or salt migration from the cooking medium.

I suspect it was cooked closer to 150F, despite what the dial said.

Also the yolk is a complex system, not just on or off.

As to cooking times, the key is how long the heat takes to travel through the egg until it is all at a stable temperature. I'd expect that was more like half an hour than three hours, but the extra time at temperature will do no harm

Maybe there is nothing new under the sun. There is an ancient middle eastern long cooked egg dish variously called Uevos Haminados or Beid Hamine (literally "bath eggs" - the Haman is a steam bath) where the eggs are slow cooked at low temperature for example with the Cholent, the Sabbath stew, or in water and coloured with onion skins or coffee.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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  • 3 months later...

Has anyone seen the recent NY Times article about the city's health department pulling the plug on sous vides cooking?

Despite having been a skeptic, I'm kind of outraged by this kind of regulation. In fact, I have reservations at Per Se in a couple of weeks and I wonder how this will affect chefs like Thomas Keller's cooking/menu.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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  • 10 years later...

This thread has been a hoot! Love the word, "sous-videiness." Honestly, I feel for the OP. Hype marketing can be really frustrating, especially if you happen to cook better than many of the restaurants you tend to visit.

 

Sous Vide is an old technique, a commercial processing technique and has only recently come into Cheffy fashion. I daresay much of the main meals you eat on airplanes have been prepped sous vide. The upside of the cheffy interest is that the GP get to say, hey I wanna do that too, and all sorts of new kitchen toys come to the home dining room table.

 

The only thing I really found provocative was the initial, "boil in the bag" reference but that was expertly handled by other posters. For me, there is a texture imparted to the final product that is characteristically, an element of sous-videiness. This is most noticeable in fish and, eggs, which many don't particularly like (texture, that is.) Many tenderer cuts of meat are also susceptible to over tenderising from being too long in the bath. Visually, I look for the tell-tale edge to edge uniform doneness of the meat, and lack of greyness around the edges for an indication of well applied technique.

 

If something is meant to be tender, it should be tender, but not mushy. If its normally tough as boot-leather yet comes to the table fork tender with the taste and aroma still intact, and not like a piece of cardboard, then that is really treat-worthy. I'd recommend for the OP to experiment with the method, to get a greater hands on feel for the technique, so that they are better placed to appreciate a masterpiece, as well as identify roadkill.

 

Lastly, pigs bladders and vacuum. (You don't always need a machine to apply a vacuum, there are other ways.) I do believe someone may have tried (been tried for?) that in the past, but very quickly discovered the unintended consequences of applying a vacuum to any sort of badder.  :P  Cheers.

Edited by ThePieman
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  • 1 month later...
On 07/12/2005 at 9:05 AM, ulterior epicure said:

Can anyone illuminate me on the appeal of cooking meat by putting it in a plastic bag and boiling it? I've had this at many a (fine) restaurant and I fail to appreciate the ecstasy at which some seem to undergo when encountering (or offering) this preparation...

Short of sounding absolutely ignorant, I realize that the technique affords great advantages to some products (like foie gras), but chicken? pork? Tender as they may be, I prefer a more natural way of "sealing" food - perhaps the age-old bladder or other non-porous offal

I ask only because I wish that I could be "enlightened" and join the swooning masses when offered this preparation at a restaurant...

U.E.

Light flesh like chicken breast, pork chops, salmon steaks, don't have a lot of marbling. If they are sv'd, the scant internal juices are retained (mostly), and the package can be held at serving temperature for an hour or so. Larger items like roasts are more problematic and I don't do them. Anyway. I can never plan a meal 72 hours ahead.

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I've only just gotten into Sous Vide cooking and have been trying all kinds of things. Pork is incredibly, as is steak. Chicken I've been a bit hit and miss on but vegetables done sous vide have been insane. 

 

The appeal for me is that the Pork Belly (and anything else I've made with pork) is cooked to perfection, it's tender moist and well cooked. I can change the flavours how I want and still end up with tender, moist and properly cooked pork (or any other meat) which means my imagination can go wild and I can be confident that I"ll end up with moist tender meat. 

 

It's really not boiling in a bag, it's just a heat medium that carries the heat into the food. Anyway that's me with Sous Vide, can't believe it's taken me this long to buy a real sous vide machine. 

 

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I've never tried Sous Vide cookery, but I've always had the question.....What about say a meat roast.  Do you then pop it into a hot oven to get a caramelized crust on the meat?

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42 minutes ago, David Ross said:

I've never tried Sous Vide cookery, but I've always had the question.....What about say a meat roast.  Do you then pop it into a hot oven to get a caramelized crust on the meat?

 

I would use a screaming hot pan to sear. Oven roasting would send the meat past the temp you want.

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My husband does not cook.  Period.  His signature dish is Mac and Cheese from the blue box.  But today I prepped sous vide bath with enough water and clear instructions on how to start it at 2 PM, adjust the temp to 129, submerge prime rib  that I pre-salted overnight and vacuum packed this morning, check it for floating.  Just got an email that water bath is up and running, temp reached 129, prime rib is not floating.  Will have lovely prime rib when my son and his wife arrive for dinner around 7:30 PM.  And that is one of the reasons why I love sous vide.  I am not ready to let my husband use Joule but it may be coming!

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If you're not afraid of setting the time on a microwave ('it's so science-y!') then you shouldn't have a problem with an immersion circulator.

 

I think it's great that some people really want to understand the science behind cooking, but it isn't required in order to just use the techniques.

 

 

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8 hours ago, IndyRob said:

But oddly enough, I've gone all in on metric weight measurements, but use Fahrenheit for sous vide.  I should probably claim that, at least at the integer level, it's more accurate.  But really it's because I've never been able to develop a gut level feel for Celsius temps.  I have a C to F converter on the start screen of my phone.

I'm the same with temps, well the opposite to you. I can't get my head around F, 149F is just weird to me but 65c means everything (also not to stick my hand in the water for long) but I can convert between to two with ease. 

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Nobody grew up with an immersion circulator.  At least no one older than 7.  For practical home application it's a pretty recent innovation.

 

That said I can certainly see how it may be intimidating to the eatie foodie as opposed to the cookie foodie.  It's different.  And the circulator is the easy part, the sealer is more complex, more expensive and affords more choices.  Pretty cool to have a sealer in your bag of tricks though.

 

But it's ok to be a late adopter (or not adopt at all).  A lot of people have been cooking a long time without SV.  I've worked with many more chefs that have not / will not use one than those that have added it to their repertoire.

 

 

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There are also quite helpful resources that take a lot of the calculation out of it for you - I was just playing with the Sous Vide Dash app to figure out cooking time for a beef tenderloin and you basically just put in a few measurements like start temp of the meat and size and desired doneness and it gives you all the info you need to set things up, plus lets you see how the process is going with regards to safety. (I want to cook the meat to rare/med-rare but hold it at temp long enough to kill bacteria all the way through, because my mom is immune compromised. The little chart shows me when the exterior is 'safe' and when the interior has gotten to a suitable safety level for the various common pathogens, it's pretty nifty.)

 

And to be fair, I'm not sure I would have bothered had I not been dealing with immune compromised people where being able to take the guesswork out of if something is cooked long enough is a big bonus.

Edited by quiet1 (log)
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On 12/22/2016 at 10:10 PM, rotuts said:

I cant's see why one system is more useful than another.

 

what matters is the numbers mean something to you.

 

I also can't see using both.  

 

I think the reason a lot of us end up using both (which can admittedly be awkward and annoying) is that celsius and fahrenheit are a bit like languages, and some aspects of cooking force us to traverse virtual lands and mingle with various tribes that use both. Ovens and most cookbooks and most regular folks in the US: Farenheit. Professional cookbooks, international recipes, food science sources, modernist cooking sources: Celsius. The weather in Brooklyn: Farenheit. My sous-vide scallops and photographic film developer: Celsius. 

 

It's just like growing up in a bilingual household. It might make me a little weird. But the back-and-forth is probably better exercise for the mind than some other things (inhaling whipped cream cartridges, etc.).

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For me, a mathophobe, SV is brainlessly easy. Look up the time/temp and cook it. Maybe experiment a little and see if I like my corned beef better at 134F (not C, damnit) or at 140F.

 

So easy. Much harder to get 8 steaks of varying thickness  to the right temp (at the same time) in an oven (and I'm pretty good at it with a couple steaks).  SV makes a bad cook better. Takes out the judgement and the timing and the intuition.

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I don't think there's any special requirement to be a math or science person. But sous-vide does hold a special appeal for people who like science. 

 

It cooks with numerical precision and absolute consistency, so you can go directly from a scientific principle to a real-world result—without any special manual skills. And since the process is so controlled, you can easily adjust a single variable, by whatever increment you want, until you get the exact result you've been hankering for.

 

Of course you can always just look at a recipe and punch in whatever numbers it says, just like with more old-timey cooking methods. You'll still get many of the benefits. You just won't be having all the fun the nerds are having.

 

 

Edited by paulraphael (log)
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On 12/29/2016 at 0:07 AM, paulraphael said:

 

It cooks with numerical precision and absolute consistency...

 

Perhaps, but the product itself may not be consistent to begin with.  Any vegetable/protein is sure to vary from one to another by virtue of season/location/manner in which it was raised,etc...

 

SV has its merits (hams, galantines, large roasts), but it is difficult to check, poke, taste, probe or baste what is inside the bag and any applications that run on for 2 days take some of the joy out of analog cooking  With a boneless leg of lamb, sure.  Shanks not so much, less so when I don’t get any sauce.

 

I simmer (low, controlled heat)  stovetop often (shanks/pig head), with a thermometer and the variance of a few degrees is negligible over 5-6 hours.  I'd be remiss if I relied on numbers for doneness/tenderness rather than tangible touching.  Hearts & tongues I’ll gladly SV since the sizes are generally similar, don’t have the sinew/tendons of shanks, don't have any collagen for aspic and I dice them up anyway.

 

I get satisfaction and joy from the entire process of a traditional braise; the aromas that draft from the oven, rotating them so they brown evenly, testing for doneness, playing with the temperature, building a sauce and being pleased with the results.  It is validation and the sum of attention, senses, discipline and skill.  I don’t get that from SV.  The end product of SV may be close to subjective perfection, but the journey isn’t scenic and analog nuances aren’t a bad thing, like in live music, hand-blown glasses and a craftsman’s woodwork.

 

What bothers me to no end is that the bags end up in a landfill.  If someone can develop biodegradable no-cook vacuum bags and/or reusable bags, they'd do humanity a favor.

Edited by Baron d'Apcher (log)
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18 hours ago, Baron d'Apcher said:

 

Perhaps, but the product itself may not be consistent to begin with.  Any vegetable/protein is sure to vary from one to another by virtue of season/location/manner in which it was raised,etc...

 

SV has its merits (hams, galantines, large roasts), but it is difficult to check, poke, taste, probe or baste what is inside the bag and any applications that run on for 2 days take some of the joy out of analog cooking  With a boneless leg of lamb, sure.  Shanks not so much, less so when I don’t get any sauce.

 

I simmer (low, controlled heat)  stovetop often (shanks/pig head), with a thermometer and the variance of a few degrees is negligible over 5-6 hours.  I'd be remiss if I relied on numbers for doneness/tenderness rather than tangible touching.  Hearts & tongues I’ll gladly SV since the sizes are generally similar, don’t have the sinew/tendons of shanks, don't have any collagen for aspic and I dice them up anyway.

 

I get satisfaction and joy from the entire process of a traditional braise; the aromas that draft from the oven, rotating them so they brown evenly, testing for doneness, playing with the temperature, building a sauce and being pleased with the results.  It is validation and the sum of attention, senses, discipline and skill.  I don’t get that from SV.  The end product of SV may be close to subjective perfection, but the journey isn’t scenic and analog nuances aren’t a bad thing, like in live music, hand-blown glasses and a craftsman’s woodwork.

 

What bothers me to no end is that the bags end up in a landfill.  If someone can develop biodegradable no-cook vacuum bags and/or reusable bags, they'd do humanity a favor.

 

 

The aromas that draft from the oven are then not in your food.

 

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