Sous-Vide

Foodie Confessions and Sous Vide in the Kitchen Sink?

The foodie world is one rife with pretension, of egos too quick to decide whether or not a cuisine is prepared “authentically” and of individuals who will scramble to prepare a dish on trend, buying expensive products–truffles, for example–and wasting them in a marinara sauce that dulls any flavor that could have been gained.   So, naturally, any person of good sense is skeptical about food trends, including sous vide.  Admittedly, I was not that person of good sense.  I was sold the moment I had heard of it and learned that the tools had been made moderately affordable.  The promises of tender, moist proteins and the “perfect steak” lulled me into gentle submission, and I bought this “affordable” tool as soon as I had saved up enough money for it.  It turns out that, like any relationship, the love between sous vide and I needed some work after that initial honeymoon period.

A melt-in-your-mouth tender lamb t-bone with perfectly even cooking

A melt-in-your-mouth tender lamb t-bone with perfectly even cooking

Wait, am I admitting something about myself?  Have I mislead you about my experience of working with sous vide?  Indeed, I have struggled with my sous vide adventures and I haven’t been forthcoming about the failures I’ve had along the way–the inedible chicken breast which nearly scared me away from cooking poultry sous vide or the chewy curried ribs I served to my friends just moments after telling them how great sous vide is (I gave my sous vide side eye for an entire week for that let-down).  Learning how to sear correctly, learning temperatures and timing, and learning to change my seasoning to account for the lack of loss through cooking (holy SALT…you better learn to use much less if you plan to sous vide).  Additionally, both my fiancé and I have had to learn to get over the weirdness of a still-wet chicken breast, which normally would set off alarms of UNDERCOOKED! (even after confirming doneness with a thermometer), while longing for the familiar texture of roasted poultry.  The toughest meat cuts is where you see the greatest pay off for using the sous vide techniques, such as the lamb cut above.

This was delicious, but it took me a bit to get used to the moist appearance of the chicken

This was delicious, but it took me a bit to get used to the moist appearance of the chicken

So it’s not a perfect method and, no, it’s not for everyone.  I personally love the challenge and, when it works, it works so incredibly well that all the previous failures fade away from memory.  I’d like to believe that my love of the method is borne of passion, not pretension, and I am naïve enough to believe that others know that about me.

The homogeneous center of this prime rib is one of the main selling points of sous vide, but it can take some a while to get used to it

The homogeneous center of this prime rib is one of the main selling points of sous vide, but it can take some a while to get used to it

Is it worth it? Well, do you like delicious food?

In a recent post, I skeptically tackled sous vide burgers after being inspired by a trendy cookbook.

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Sous vide in the kitchen sink

Are you interested in sous vide but you’re not sure about investing in the equipment? After reading so much about how salmon can be cooked sous vide in the kitchen sink, I decided to test it out to see how it compares.  Following the instructions from Modernist Cuisine except I used teriyaki seasoning, I am pleased to say that I mostly had good results.  I found that the salmon needed a quick pan sear to give it some more flavor and a more agreeable texture, but it was delicious even before the sear.

sous vide in the kitchen sink

My salmon, pre-searing.

Salmon pre-sear

Salmon pre-sear

After sear

After sear

Perhaps you’re asking yourself now, if you’re just going to stick the salmon into a pan to sear afterward, what’s the point of cooking the salmon sous vide, to begin with?  Ah well.  For one, the salmon was cooked all the way through without the need to do a flake-test to check for doneness and, most importantly, it did not have the problem of chalkiness that salmon cooked traditionally often has.  If you’ve never experienced either problem, well then congrats on being the unicorn of salmon-cookery.  For the rest of us, however, this is a welcome convenience that makes it all worth it, especially since my household consists of huge salmon fans.  We have it at least once a week (thank you Costco for affordable, good salmon!).  Would I continue to cook sous vide in the kitchen sink?  For salmon, I’d say yes if I didn’t have dedicated sous vide equipment.

So what do you think, is sous vide just an annoying fad (one that’s now lasted at least 4 years in the home cooking sphere, I might add–certainly no bias from me…hehe) or is it an exciting new way to cook? And will you try sous vide in the kitchen sink?