What I've been Cooking (Sous Vide)

Today I sent my SousVide Supreme demo unit back. I had it for almost two weeks. While this gave me a chance to get a feel for the machine, it didn't really give me enough time to really see all of what sous vide - as a technique - has to offer. Here's what I cooked:

  • Fish: Just tilapia, unfortunately. Since I moved to Maryland from Illinois, I just haven't been taking advantage of the (significantly) greater availability of good seafood. I'm not sure why. Still, given how tender, moist, and flavorful the tilapia turned out, I'd definitely like to try more fish sous vide.
  • Eggs: Some people don't really like the "perfect egg" that you can get with sous vide. They find the white too loose for their taste. This means there are more for me. (If only it worked that way...)
  • Root Vegetables: I cooked some celeriac and sweet potatoes for purees. The celeriac, unfortunately, was my biggest failure with the machine. I tried using a regular zipper bag. It opened at some point in the cooking process, and my celeriac escaped into the water. It still tasted OK, but it was nothing special. The sweet potato, on the other hand, turned out incredibly well: smooth and deeply flavored. I added a bit of cumin and turmeric and tossed it in the blender.
  • Beef: Despite some reservations voiced by others on this site, beef was the real standout here. Chuck roasts are amazingly flavorful cuts of beef, but they are also fairly tough. Chuck cooked for over 24 hours at about 132 degrees (medium-rare) turns out amazing. Image by ArnoldImage by ArnoldDue to the fact that the water bath never rises above your ideal core temperature, you can't overcook it. Given a long cooking time, though, the collagen dissolves. You are left with a steak that is perfectly cooked from edge to edge... and is just about as tender as any steak you've ever had. The fact that sous vide techniques allow you to make (cheap) chuck steaks that compare favorably with much more expensive cuts of beef is exciting. Apparently, short ribs turn out really well, too. The chuck was good enough, though, that I made it a couple of times in the short time I had the machine (despite the long cooking time).
  • Lamb: The lamb was good. It didn't benefit quite as much from the low temperature cooking as the beef did, but I also didn't cook it nearly as long.
  • Squid: I followed someone's notes on the Internet. They were wrong. My squid ended up a bit too tough, though it tasted good. I usually find squid to be very neutral tasting. This actually had a very nice flavor to it. Next time, I'd try squid a bit above 140 degrees for at least two hours.
  • Chicken Breast: Tender. Moist. Too often, chicken (particularly white meat) doesn't taste like much. This didn't have that problem. It tasted like chicken... in a good way.

Things I didn't get a chance to experiment with: Too many to list. I'd have loved, though, to have been able to experiment more with fruit, other vegetables, poultry (sous vide turkey, definitely. sous vide duck? It would be nice to try...), and more seafood (I think it would be really good for squid, if I knew the right temp to cook it at). I have no idea what sous vide could do (if anything) for nuts or cheeses. Can you bake in it? What would that do?

Comments

I totally believe sous vide would make awesome pot roast or other chuck steak type dishes. Any tough cut of meat will benefit from long and slow.

As I said, I'm still not convinced that it's not just a fad, at least at the restaurant level (despite being "just" a cooking technique, after all) but anyway, I'm definitely more interested in sous vide than I was before... it would be VERY practical for me, that's for sure.

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