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Sous vide cooking

Discussion in 'Nutrition & Supplements' started by gazareth, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. gazareth

    gazareth Senior Member

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    I've recently been getting into a cooking technique called sous vide and it has been really helping me stick to my cutting diet while also eating tasty, nutritious proteins. I thought I'd post a bit of info here in case it's of interest to anyone else.

    What is sous vide cooking?

    Sous vide (French for "under vacuum") is the process of preparing a food by vacuum-sealing it in a plastic bag and then cooking it in a temperature-controlled liquid (usually water) bath for a certain period of time.

    The main advantages of cooking with this method are simple: by cooking your food at a set temperature, you can ensure a consistent level of "doneness" from edge-to-edge. It's essentially impossible to overcook something sous vide unless you set the temperature wrong in the first place.


    Give me some examples

    My main use for sous vide is chicken. I mostly cook boneless, skinless chicken thighs for 90-120 mins at 65 degrees C (149F), but I have got similar results with chicken breast at 62C (143F) for 60-90 mins. The main problem when cooking chicken is that it's very easy to overcook and leave it dry and fibrous. Sous vide cooking eliminates this problem. Every chicken portion that I have cooked like this has come out moist, tender and really tasty.

    Steak and fish are also really good for this method. Salmon at 46C (115F) for 30 minutes comes out melt-in-the-mouth tender, and steak at 53C (127F) for 60 minutes will result in perfect rare pink from edge-to-edge.

    Basically you can use it for any protein (including eggs!). It also works well with other foods (e.g. veg) but I have yet to try this.

    Where SV really shines is with tougher cuts such as beef short rib. Tough cuts need much longer in the water bath because while the protein can come up to the cooking temperature relatively fast, it takes a long time for the collagens and fats to melt and make the meat succulent enough to enjoy! Beef short rib cooked at 56C (132F) for 48 hours is the beefiest, steakiest beef I have ever eaten. It comes out pink and tender but still with bite and with an incredibly intense flavour. The juices left in the bag also make a very simple, tasty sauce.


    But I love the Maillard reaction?!

    The Maillard reaction is the proper term for what happens when you cook foods at high heat in a pan. You know when you whack a steak on a grill and you get all that amazing texture and flavour from the crust that forms on the outside? That's the Maillard reaction. Sous vide cooking doesn't give you that because the temperatures involved aren't high enough. But you can still get it by combining SV with conventional techniques.

    For example, with steak, you would cook it SV as desired, remove from the water bath, pat dry with paper towels and then throw it into a (very) hot pan for 30 seconds on each side. This should give you that lovely crust on the outside without ruining your perfectly cooked inside.


    How do I cook sous vide?

    Until recently SV has been reserved for professional kitchens and amateurs who are not shy of spending a few dollars on a bit of kit. But this year several new products have come out which have really made this technology available to the home cook. The most popular type of gadget seems to be the immersion circulator. These work very simply: you take an existing pot of container that you already own (e.g. large saucepan, beer cooler, food storage tub, etc) and attach the circulator. You tell the gadget what temperature you want and then fill the container with water. The circulator will then a) heat the water to the required temperature, b) keep it there and c) circulate the water in the container to keep the temperature consistent throughout the bath.

    The three companies doing good work with these gizmos at present are:
    * Anova
    * Sansaire (I have this one and it's great)
    * Nomiku

    I haven't checked prices lately but I believe you can get one of these gadgets for between $100 and $200 dollars.

    There's a good overview of these three products here.


    As well as an immersion circulator, you would also need a vacuum sealer (although you can in theory use zip-loc bags and the "water displacement method, I have not tried this myself) and a supply of food-safe plastic bags. My vacuum sealer cost GBP 40 (about $65) from Amazon UK.


    Food safety

    The main issues with safety around SV are two-fold:
    * Cooking the food safely
    * Use of plastics in cooking

    Rather than regurgitate, I can say that SV is perfectly safe as long as you follow the basic rules. Here are some good articles on this:
    Food safety with sous vide cooking
    Is it safe to cook with plastic?


    Relevance to a fitness website

    Sous vide cooking is awesome for fitness nerds for a few reasons:

    1. You can cook your "boring" chicken breasts (or other lean proteins) and still have it nice and tender
    2. You can cook meat, fish, etc without having to use oils or fats (unless you want to)
    3. You can cook foods in large batches and when you re-heat (most foods can be re-heated in 30 mins in the water bath) the food will still be as tender and moist

    As I mentioned, I've been cooking and eating boneless chicken thighs for my lunches for a while and sous vide has kept me from going crazy. I cook a batch at the start of the week, and with a quick re-heat each day I have a tender, tasty and healthy protein to go with my vegetables. I just add salt & pepper. Yum!


    Other resources

    Check out some of these websites for articles, recipes and more info:

    http://modernistcuisine.com/
    http://www.seriouseats.com/
    http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html (this is a sous vide-specific website rather than a generic cooking site, has loads of good food safety info as well as recommended cooking temps/times)
     
    #1 gazareth, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
  2. gazareth

    gazareth Senior Member

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    48-hour short rib, with sauce made from beef stock and bag juice, served with sweet potato mash and sprouts. Epic.
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1418994663.236856.jpg

    Sirloin steak, 1 hour at 56C
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1418994708.946551.jpg
     
  3. gazareth

    gazareth Senior Member

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    Beef brisket - 48 hours at 62C. Tender and soft but a little dry. LOADS of flavour though ImageUploadedByTapatalk1419105719.683780.jpg
     
  4. abuseguy

    abuseguy Active Member

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    Wow. Very interesting. Thanks for the information. This is totally new to me.
     
  5. FreeYouNow

    FreeYouNow New Member

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    I saw one of these pop up in my FB ads and checked it out, and at first it looked really cool, but had a few concerns.

    Firstly, the idea of boiling something in a plastic ziploc bag in water had me worried a bit. Secondly, cooking times.

    For example, for a chicken breast I cook it on a griddle which takes about 10-15mins from raw to done.

    When I saw the videos on it they were showing that you cook the steak in the water, but then throw it on the grill or a pan to crispen it, which to me kind of seamed like double work - no? But that Sansaire site you posted, they have a blow-torch which is a bit different.

    On the other site I was researching they were also showing how people were buying plastic coolers from walmart and drilling holes in them in order to use the cooler as their water boiling "pot", because using a regular pot didn't work for them for some reason.

    Is that what you do? Or do you just use a stock pot or something like that?

    I totally want to try steak and chicken cooked this way, but I'm not totally sold on the idea yet. I wonder if there's any local stores that sell these so I can buy it, try it and worst case return it if it's too much hastle.

    Definitely interesting though.

    -Paul
     
  6. FreeYouNow

    FreeYouNow New Member

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    Woo... this one looks cool too:

    SousVide Supreme | Official Site

    It's about 3 times the price as the other ones, but it looks a lot more aesthetically pleasing, more professional, I'd feel safer using it than the immersion types, and really at the end of the day if you end up using it a lot, price is not really an issue.

    -Paul
     
  7. Cinic

    Cinic Well-Known Member

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    I've got one of the Anova cookers and have adopted a $10 cooler as my main cooking vessel. I like the cooler because it's insulated also has an insulated lid which I cut the corner out of to fit the cooker. Before I got the dedicated cooler, I used a stock pot in the sink and used saran wrap as a lid to slow down water loss.

    My favorite things to cook are:
    • Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) for use cold in lunch salads. I season with some sort of rub and then bag and cook at 150° for a couple hours. Always tender and juicy. Never over or under cooked. I'll bulk cook a weeks worth for my wife and I on the weekend. I can bulk prepare even more and just toss it in the freezer. You can go straight from freezer to water bath and just cook an hour longer.
    • Rice. Equal volumes rice and water and into a 200° water bath. 20 minutes for white rice and 55 for brown rice. I've never had good luck with rice in pans or pots. Before this, I cooked brown rice in the microwave.
     
    FreeYouNow likes this.
  8. FreeYouNow

    FreeYouNow New Member

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    I've been using my SousVide Supreme for a couple of weeks now. I absolutely love it! It has made meal planning and cooking so much easier.

    So far we've had steak a few times (cooked to perfection), chicken thighs (delicious!) , chicken drumsticks (also delicious), some chicken breasts (very juicy), and then more steak.

    I've also tried young potatoes in it, although I was in a rush so they were a bit undercooked.

    The best thing I like about this method of cooking is that I can throw the meat in the cooker in the afternoon and let it do it's thing while I work on my stuff and by dinner time the meat is ready to go. In between though, there's no smell throughout the whole house as there would be using other methods of cooking. This is important for us as my wife has clients she sees a the house and it would be distracting if they were smelling what we're cooking all afternoon. :)

    So it's really cool how the SousVide kind of just cooks the food for you behind the scenes and then its' ready to go whenever you're ready to go.

    If we're not ready to eat at a specific time, and instead we're ready to eat 15mins later or 30mins later or even 1 hour after when we anticipated we would eat, it's no big deal at all. Compare that to for example having the food in the oven, it would be overcooked, dried out etc.

    I love it! Very useful tool!

    I got mine at Costco online. They have a bundle that comes with the SousVide Suprement, and a vacuum sealer and two rolls of bags.

    -Paul
     

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