10 Days of Sous Vide: Cookbooks & Portuguese Peri Peri (Day 2)
It’s day 2 of my 10 Days of Sous Vide series and, as promised yesterday, today I will be sharing my favorite cookbooks on sous vide and a recipe for Portuguese Peri Peri. I have instructions for sous vide, slow cooker, and for the grill.
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I am a book addict.
My fiancé can attest to this. I have books on every topic I’ve ever been even the least bit curious about. Because he has the same affliction, our library is an interesting mishmash of subjects. Of course, it is natural that my collection is dominated by cookbooks and books about food.
Knowing this, one of the first questions my friends ask about sous vide when they first start, is if they should buy a cookbook. To this, I gleefully list off my collection and suggest my “biggies” on the topic. So, here is that list:
These are the books that, once you have committed yourself to learning sous vide, you must have:
A Biggie: Affordable yet comprehensive
The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt doesn’t just tackle sous-vide. It addresses a range of all types of cooking: roasting, grilling, slow cooker…you name it. It’s currently on sale (as of today’s writing it’s $27.97, down from $49) which makes it a very worthy buy for all readers. The reason why I recommend it for sous vide is López-Alt’s thorough treatment of all topics he tackles. He tests timing and heat settings and documents them, almost like a scientist would in a lab.
A Biggie: Expensive but worth it
Modernist Cuisine At Home is Modernist Cuisine: The Art of Science and Cooking Lite. While the predecessor to this book costs a hefty $530+ (and weighs 50 pounds!), Modernist Cuisine At Home costs a relatively cheap $105. Amazon just recently released both editions for renting with the giant edition costing you around $200 to rent for something like 90 days, the lite version costing around $41 to rent. I strongly recommend this book, however, for so many reasons.
- The photography alone is just stunning. It is hard to put it down after you open it. As a bonus, the book comes with four 8×10 prints of various photos of the book. Yes, I hung them on the wall.
- The recipes are truly scientifically accurate, measuring carefully in grams with a highly tuned kitchen scales.
- It comes with a workbook containing all of the recipes from the book that is stain-proof and water-proof.
Not to mention, the qualifications of the authors involved:
Modernist Cuisine is an interdisciplinary team in Bellevue, Washington, founded and led by Nathan Myhrvold. The group includes scientists, research and development chefs, and a full editorial team all dedicated to advancing the state of culinary art through the creative application of scientific knowledge and experimental techniques.
I love this book and relied on it heavily in the early days. It, like The Food Lab above, doesn’t just cover sous vide, either. It includes all manners of modernist cooking and is a must for any budding scientist-chef.
The Little Guys
But maybe you’re just dabbling in the sous vide world. You don’t want to buy either of the above books (despite their range of topics) just yet. Here are a few recommendations:
Sous Vide: The Art of Precision Cooking: this book is now only available for a decent price through Amazon on Kindle, but it really is a great resource. The recipes are simple but inventive, such as Confit Chicken Wings or Salmon with Whisky and Orange.
Sous Vide: The Cookbook: this book is very short and simple, covering the basics and providings from elegant recipes.
Mugaritz: Learn how to prepare sous vide from one of Spain’s most influential restaurants, sharing the same name as the book. This book is just stunning with incredibly fine molecular gastronomy. Certainly not intended to be a guide to learn sous vide on your own, some the recipes will blow you away. If you’ve enjoyed the excellent series Chef’s Table on Netflix, then you’ll love this book.
Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken
Peri Peri Chicken (also spelled “Piri Piri”) is a wonderful dish hailing both from Africa and Portugal. When the Portuguese came to Angola and Mozambique they brought with them a pepper: Peri Peri. Peri Peri is also known as African Bird’s Eye Chili. Wonderfully spicy and smoky, this dish turned out perfect after a couple of trial-and-error. For one, the eight-hour cook time isn’t just convenient because it coincides with the work day. After testing the chicken at one-hour, two-hour, even four-hour intervals, it just wasn’t as tender as I had hoped. Eight hours is the perfect amount of time to break down all the muscle fibers and such to render a flaky, tender protein.
Today we discussed cookbooks and I shared my favorite cookbooks on sous vide (and more!). In our next post, I’ll share a 72-hour Hawaiian BBQ Short Rib and we’ll debunk some sous vide myths.
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