Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sous vide, first try

I've been wanting to try out sous vide cooking for the longest time, unfortunately my kitchen is just too small to fit a water bath in. But recently I had a sudden brain storm - the rice cooker I recently bought has two different settings, cook and warm. And the warm setting maintains a temperature of 57 degrees Celsius. Perfect for a medium rare steak, but just too low for poultry. Yet a bit of experimentation showed that I could use the cook setting and a digital thermometer to set the temperature to, say, 63 degrees, and then the warm cycle would maintain it for two hours, easily. So I bought some turkey fillets and voilà:

Seal them into a zip-lock bag with some salt, pepper and herbs, drop it into the water and wait for two hours. The meat comes out delicious and tender. But Boris, I can hear you scream, what about the delicious Maillard reactions you get in a pan, the crunchy brown bits that impart so much of the flavour? Well, fear not, gentle reader: Enter my favourite kitchen tool, the blowtorch:

This is cooking the way I like it

Mmmh. Don't let the awful white-balance fool you, that piece of dead turkey was scrumptious.


  1. The temperature of the rice cooker depends on heat loss and its surrounding ambient temperature. If your kitchen is hot and rice cooker is insulated, you can raise the temperature to 68C or more.
    If you have a controller like our SousVideMagic, you will have precise full control over desired temperature.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I didn't know that, thought the cooker would have some kind of temperature control inside. Found out that wrapping my rice cooker in a towel will rise the temperature to a cosy 65 degrees, good for poultry. Which means I won't have to buy your controller, I guess ;)

  3. I think you need another road trip.

  4. Actually, I will be in Paris next week, for a conference, so I've got that covered ;)
    You don't approve of sous-vide, I gather?

  5. Nothing wrong in my mind with cooking tasty viddles in a low-maintenance way.

    I have a slow cooker so I can do it without finagling, but I have to say I admire creativity.

  6. Actually, like Strother Martin in True Grit, I was blissfully ignorant of its existence until last night. Looks mighty fine. I'm more of a fake German sausage at the county fair kind of guy. I like my food cheap and fast, as I tend to throw a lot of it up.

    This really looks delicious though. Just a few degrees above my lowly social standing. :)

  7. Boris
    That's OK. At least you are getting into sous vide cooking. And, one day if you want to cook at 55C for steaks or 80C for duck confit, you would need a controller like Sousvidemagic to help you out.
    Have fun!

  8. @Max:
    I myself must plead blissful ignorance of True Grit, or Strother Martin for that matter, so I know where you are coming from. But sous-vide seems to be cheap and fast for me (fast as in not much work, you have to wait a couple of hours/days for your food, obviously).

    I'll keep that in mind...