As our almost-never-impeccably neat kitchen would prove, we cook and bake often, taking pride in making things from scratch. We give each other cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. While some people would specify a no kitchen-related gifting policy, we embrace the opposite. I am thrilled to get spatulas, pastry brushes, kitchen towels or measuring cups and spoons. He got me a Soda Stream? and I bought him an oven toaster in the first year we dated. That’s normal, right?
One of the things we’ve been coveting for a while was a sous vide machine, and getting our hands on one was inevitable after he gave me the home version of the Modernist Cuisine tome last year. A few friends have–and love–their machines and arm lifting-worthy books. Being a half pescetarian? (a quarter vegetarian and a quarter no-meat, some vegetables) household, our main concern was how often we would use it. We have a small kitchen and very limited counter space for appliances.
We were lucky enough to have been able to try a demo unit from Cedarlane Culinary, complete with a vacuum sealer and a supply of bags to start. They have been very generous for letting us use them. Thanks so much, guys!
So what is sous vide? You’ve probably heard of it or seen chefs on TV vacuum sealing food and leaving them in a tub of water to cook. Simply put, sous vide is French for “under vacuum”. The principle behind it is to cook vacuum-sealed food at the same temperature throughout the cooking process, thus avoiding overcooking.
The sous vide machine is a water bath with a temperature regulator set to the desired final temperature of the food. Different brands have different ways of controlling the temperature, including water circulation. Some, like the SousVide Supreme, use radiant heat in an enclosed/covered unit.
Cooking sous vide tends to be done at a lower temperature than you would cook with direct heat, but for a much longer time, resulting in even cooking. The great thing is, there’s no need for guesswork when it comes to temperatures and cooking times. There are already recommended settings and the provided manual and cookbook have all the information handy. If you’re feeling more adventurous, the Modernist Cuisine and a slew of other sous vide books will not disappoint.
To test, we cooked eggs and fish in the SousVide Supreme. The process for cooking both is as easy as setting the final temperature and placing them in the pre-heated water bath for a set amount of time. Set and forget.
Sous Vide Eggs
For the eggs, Jens cooked them at 63°F, the temperature at which the yolk and white are the same consistency. [Different chefs have different opinions on this, varying from 62° to 64°F, but as always, do what tastes good to you.]
It produces an incredibly silky poached egg that runny yolk-lovers like us appreciate. The white has turned white (not clear), and the yolk becomes custard-like.
We put ours on top of some cheesy potato hash and ate it with some salmon sausages. It was quite the rich and tasty weekend brunch!
Sous Vide Salmon
The great thing about sealed food for cooking is that you don’t lose liquid or flavor. They all kind of meld together. We are fortunate to get good salmon here in BC and prefer to keep it simple so the flavors of the fish shine. We just put salt, dill and Meyer lemon slices.
Vacuum sealing is pretty straight forward and the SousVide Supreme Vacuum sealer was easy to use. We cooked one big slice of fish and positioned the pouch rack horizontally to keep it completely submerged in water since we used the minimum amount of water required.
We watched one of our recorded shows and voila, the fish is done.
After removing the everything from the bag and pick dill and lemon slices, we seared the fish on a hot cast iron skillet to quickly brown it then served it with some asparagus rice.
That was it for a no-fuss weekday dinner.
How did our part-pescetarian household do with the SousVide Supreme?
This is all too embarrassing to admit, but we had the complete unit for months and did not use it as much as we thought we would and hoped. I think this has more to do with our varied household diets than anything. Our limited kitchen space also prevents us from keeping it there all the time. Having used it, I think we would benefit from it the most if it was always ready to use in the kitchen, and therefore consciously make more meals with it. As the sole meat-eater in the house (nowadays, I’m more of a social meat eater), I can actually have my meat dishes cooked separately. At the moment we simply don’t have the dedicated counter space for it.
What did we like about the SousVide Supreme?
It’s very easy to use. Like I said earlier, it’s basically “set and forget”. Once your food items are in the bath, you can forget about it until it’s time them out to eat or to store for future use. There’s not much of a learning curve for using it. Yes, you can sous vide food and freeze them for later consumption. If we bought more salmon, we could have cooked all of them them in separate single-meal sized portions and freeze the rest. We can just sear it when we are ready to eat them. I can see this working out for entertaining a group of people and precooking your proteins and just searing the beef or fish closer to serving time.
Essentially, it is quite healthy to cook sous vide. It’s like poaching, but because it is cooked in vacuum, the flavors are concentrated in the bag and not diluted into the cooking liquid or evaporated. We didn’t have to put as much salt on the salmon as we usually would and it still ended up being very tasty.
And here’s one more selfish reason and bonus: less dishes to use for cooking. We could have done without searing the salmon for sure, but we like our fish browned.
So there goes our sous vide experiment. We still haven’t purchased one yet and I don’t think we will until that counter space happens. We did have fun using it, though!
Thanks again to Cedarlane Culinary for letting us try your demo unit!
Disclaimer: We were given a demo unit to try sous vide cooking at home. We were not paid to test the SousVide Supreme machine and/or write this post. We did not receive compensation of any kind.