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Is Sous Vide "Real Cooking"?


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thermistor in place, heater coil ready to go. All you need is a digital readout, a very high power rheostat or “SPST low voltage relay” to control your AC, an iron clad calibration method and a circuit to regulate the heater-thermostat relationship. I can't wait till you finish this. You're about half way to completing the Polyscience $1300 immersion circulator. Eagerly awaiting your next post. Let me know if you get stuck on the pump portion. Have some great ideas for you.

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Don't know if this makes it count as "real cooking", but Steingarten was doing it at home on "the making of iron chef america" last night.

I saw that. I really hated that guy the first time I saw him, but now I like him. He really grew on me. That shot in his kitchen was cool. I like how he just hacked into the meat on the counter and handed some to his dog. That's real TV.

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

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Sous-vide is real cooking for sure, but some people are always looking for the 'next great thing'. Is sous-vide cooking this 'next great thing'? Who cares, it is a handy trick but will never replace roasting in an oven, searing in a pan, etc... For some foods it's nice to cook low and slow or sous-vide (beefcheeks, lamb shanks, duck leg confit), but sometimes nothing can beat traditional methods (eg. if you want a fish that is seared hard on the outside and raw inside like bonito tataki, or a leg of lamb cooked over coals, etc...)

The main advantage of sous-vide cooking (hate me now), is that it saves time and money. You can make duck confit with 1/4 of the duck fat, braise meats with much less liquid, save time by not having to reduce to braising liquid as much, etc... Not to mention being able to cook and store the item in the same bag, not dirtying any pans, etc...

Also, you really don't 'need' a proper circulating water bath, you can get pretty good results in a large pot on the stove with a probe thermometer. The proper equipment will make it more precise, but then again theres a huge range in quality when it comes to ovens as well so this is a moot point.

Sous-vide cooking is nice but not better or worse than other methods (they all have a place), I'd call it evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and all this arguing is kinda rediculous...

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I'd call it evolutionary rather than revolutionary

I couldn't agree more. There are very few revolutions in cooking. The whole concept of molecular gastronomy might have been, at one point, revolutionary. But nowadays, it's the normal evolution of cooking, adapting itself to technologies that were not used in cooking before.

Persnonally, I welcome the change

Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

My Blog, en Español

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear all,

Is there any luck so far with a finished product?

Someone just pointed me to this thread after I mentioned wanting to try an aquarium with a circulating filter and a few fish water heaters. I am told that such heaters won't work as they apparently all have thermostats (which I wasn't aware of), so I am wondering if there is any type of heater that would work, i.e., is submersible and has a temp. control of some sort?

I have read through this entire thread, and much of it is too technical for me. I don't think I would be able to build anything, so I am looking for a heater that is already fabricated. Any ideas?



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I think it's kind of funny how heated some of these debates can get. Hey if some chefs want to try new ways of doing things, or even re-discovering old ways of doing something, great - we all win - at least those who are interested in moving things forward do.

Also its not a competition - sous vide is just another technique, you are still allowed to roast the hell out of something if you want to. Don't get annoyed if others want to put stuff in a bag and cook it a low temperature for a while and then sear it. Its different, sure, but its still cooking.

Personally I love sous vide in the main - I think its good to push the boundaries a little and see what comes out. Surely that's what being a creative chef is?

Anyway I join the call for all the electronic and mechanical geniuses to come up with a MacGyver/Homebrew version. Bring 'em on.

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Anyway I join the call for all the electronic and mechanical geniuses to come up with a MacGyver/Homebrew version. Bring 'em on.

How about re-wiring the controls on a fry-o-later for use with water which likely wouldn't have hot spots because of high circulation due to convection currents and high recovery, seems more economical to me than having a hundred gallon tank heating, and stirring it, with a 25 pound slate base to heat up as well on start.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about sous-vide, including comments from Shola Olunloyo of StudioKitchen, and eGulleteer Greg Ling.

It also adds a sidebar about sous-vide at home, featuring eGulleteer Percyn.

In an interesting coincidence, given the interviews were done a while ago, Shola mentions the potential health concerns.

But Studio Kitchen's Shola Olunloyo cautions that sous vide is not something the home cook should try on a lark.

"There's a depth of knowledge required regarding sanitation," he says. "The biggest issue is that one of the most dangerous food-borne illnesses, botulism, is an anaerobic bacteria and can survive in a vacuum."

Proper handling of the food is crucial: After being cooked sous vide, food should be cooled quickly - by placing it in an ice bath, for example - before storage.

(links may require free registration)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz


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  • 2 months later...

I am no genius, and have only a basic understanding of heat and of electric circuits- no electronics for me.

Here is what I have done so far to make a sous vide device that can hold a stable temp.

Go to home depot and buy a dimmer switch ($5) and a box that light switches go in in the wall ($1)

Go home and dig out one of the ten extra power strips I have (free). Cut the cord in half.

Wire the two black wires on the back of the switch into the black wires in the cord. (handily, the switch comes with electric nuts to connect the wires) Wire the three green wires all together to complete the ground. Wire the two white cords in the powerstrip cord back together, with no connection from the switch. Screw the dimmer switch into its holder.

Go to goodwill and pay too much for a crock pot. Take it apart to remove the switch. Put it back together again when I find that the switch doesn't do the stupid temperature cycling thing. By the way, the heating element on the simplest crock pots is just a long wire wrapped around and around the thing from top to bottom. So it is already designed to do nice even heating.

Plug the crock pot into the powerstrip, and add water (to the INSIDE of the pot!). When the temperature stabilizes after a few hours (you can speed this up by adding hot water), mark the temp on the dial of the dimmer. Then find several different temperatures one would want, and mark them.

The ten dollar device keeps temperature perfectly for hours and hours- overnight... Just keep the lid on, and always fill it to the same height.


No water circulation, and an earlier post gave good reasons for that- the temperature DOES change when I jiggle the temperature probe around- within 3 or so degrees, though.

Size (I will look at garage sales for a 6 qt crock pot- that ought to be enough.

No automatic temperature control- a piece of fish would not get up to your ideal temperature as fast as you might want. A large piece of meat that would cook for a long period of time would even out after some time (I don't have a hypodermic thermometer, so I cannot tell you from experience how long), but it might take its sweet time getting through the danger zone.

On the water circulation- would an aquarium pump melt toward the upper end of things? Any other cheap ideas?

On the automatic- it sure would be nice if the engineers would enlighten us (in English!) about how a PID could actually be wired into this? I imagine this would replace my dimmer switch.



Anyway I join the call for all the electronic and mechanical geniuses to come up with a MacGyver/Homebrew version. Bring 'em on.

How about re-wiring the controls on a fry-o-later for use with water which likely wouldn't have hot spots because of high circulation due to convection currents and high recovery, seems more economical to me than having a hundred gallon tank heating, and stirring it, with a 25 pound slate base to heat up as well on start.

Edited by pedrissimo (log)
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Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Sooooo simple!

Where do I find the probe? Is it essentially like the end of my electronic oven thermometer, yet cheaper (from what i gather from similar conversations on this or another thread)?

Would i just make all the little lines out of regular wire?

Pack it all into a plastic box?



Hi Peter

On this website you can purchase Rope heaters in various lengths to make your own vessel. Click here and scroll down.

The following is a diagram for a PID. It's much simpler than it looks.


R5 represents the heating element

R4 is the probe.

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No you cant get the same results.

Roasting meat in the oven at 65 degrees C still results in about 30% moisture loss over sous vide.

You simply cant compare the vaccum with an open chamber cooking method.

That's BS.

The crockpot argument is also absurd.  Sous vide in its most precise form with a circulating waterbath cant be duplicated any other way.

The key is the near constant temperature over a long period.

Twodogs shows what is possible if you are creative and know what you are doing.

We could continue having this discussion on if sous vide is the future or whether it is real cooking....

At the end of the day, it comes down to fear and ignorance.

People who are resistant to evolution tend to be the biggest hypocrites because they are advocating doing things the traditional way without haven actually sampled the best results of new methods.

As Philadining said, go to the best places that use it creatively and you may be suprised.

I just wish people wouldnt tell us they have seen the future of cooking when thier heads are stuck in the sand.

hold on a second - in the past 5 years we have seen a lot of "innovation" in cooking techniques, certainly a lot more vis-a-vis the past. while hindering innovation is certainly inconsitent with the evolution of an art form, don't forget billions of people have been cooking for thousands of years, and that is why we have flavour combinations and "traditional" recipes which work and are hardly ever improved on. you will never evolve if you don't respect tradition.

i've laways said - it is certainly not me who will make a better bolognese sauce than millions of palates over hundreds of years in bologna.


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I think my main problem with it is that it just seems kind of souless. I mean, set a temp, set a time, and place the bag in the water and wait for the timer. I've seen it done in kitchens and, while the results were admitedly good, there seemed to be no energy and no, I don't know, "craft" in the process.

Once you have the equipment, it seems like the expertise level is on par with microwaving something.

Just no fun.

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Qwerty, as others in these forums have pointed out, people said the same thing about gas-fired stoves when they started to replace wood-fired stoves.

I certainly undestand that notion...though I would argue that the jump from wood to gas is less than from wood/gas to sous vide.

Maybe I just don't like the idea of the craft being taken out of what I do. I like to feel, smell, taste my food as it's cooking. I like the insticts of knowing when something is perfect...not "knowing" because a timer went off.

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  • 1 year later...
Maybe I just don't like the idea of the craft being taken out of what I do. I like to feel, smell, taste my food as it's cooking. I like the insticts of knowing when something is perfect...not "knowing" because a timer went off.

Baking is a science too - essentially ready when the timer goes off, but no one makes a big deal about that.

There is more to a plate of food than the method the protein was cooked. If you take a look at Ideas in Food or StudioKitchen you will see that sous vide is merely one component of the dish. I recently cooked a pork tenderloin sous vide, but I still made an apple puree to go into the bag, roasted diced sweet potato, and caramelized spring onions to go on the plate. I am less of a cook b/c I did not throw it on the grill or in the oven. BTW it was delicious, and there was a noticeable difference in flavor and texture.

Spheres and foam may be a passing fad, but sous vide is not a gimmick though it can be sold as one. It is simply a method of cooking that is here to stay in some form or another.

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Maybe I just don't like the idea of the craft being taken out of what I do. I like to feel, smell, taste my food as it's cooking. I like the insticts of knowing when something is perfect...not "knowing" because a timer went off.

Couldn't the same be said for pressure cooking? You really don't smell the food as its pressure cooked, and tasting & feeling are definitely out- you basically know its done by how much time under pressure has elapsed.

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Surely you judge any technique by the quality it yields and sous vide takes another variable out of the process.

Edited by adey73 (log)

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Ack, it's coming back to a "what is art" discussion! :wacko: Why is it that everyone wants to be an "artist" and no one wants to be a "technician"? There is nothing wrong with being precise, and it does not exclude artistry, if that's your thing. Me, I like good food, and I like futzy cooking (the more complicated the better - it's therapeutic :smile: ). For me, sous vide provides both.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations

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Is anyone sick of this method, do we really need this type of cooking.  I hate this method.  If you can't cook, try, try again, and you're welcome for the helpful advice.  If you think these fancy methods are going to make you a chef you are dead wrong.

Maybe we should also give up our Robo-Coupes, blenders, electric and gas ranges, dough mixers, etc... Just do everything by hand with manual tools, and cook on a coal range or wood fired oven...

You are right about one thing though - these fancy methods won't make you a chef, but for a chef who knows what they're doing, they allow you to precisely cook quite a few things at once with minimum hassle.

Edit - was just thinking about it, and while sous-vide is convenient for us chefs, food cooked in a wood-fired oven (or on a wood-fired grill) is pretty damn tasty.

Edited by Mikeb19 (log)
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