Amuse-bouche

Sous-vide cook­ing

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - Sous Mod­ernist Cui­sine Mod­ernist Cui­sine:

When renowned chef-restau­ra­teur Thomas Keller (of The French Laun­dry, Per Se, and oth­ers) coau­thored 2008’s Un­der Pres­sure: Cook­ing Sous Vide, his in­tent was to in­tro­duce Amer­i­cans to sous vide, a tech­nique he had been us­ing in his restau­rants for al­most a decade. But his recipes were com­plex — with each dish, as served, com­posed of many sep­a­rate el­e­ments, along the lines of Pi­geon aux Truf­fles Noires, Can­dele Pasta Gratin, Brus­sels Sprouts, and Sauce Périgourine — and the nec­es­sary equip­ment had not yet evolved enough to be ei­ther af­ford­able for or at­trac­tive to the ama­teur gour­mand. Al­most a decade would pass be­fore home cooks be­gan to pay se­ri­ous at­ten­tion to what some have called “slow cook­ing in plas­tic in wa­ter.”

Trans­lated lit­er­ally, sous vide means “un­der vac­uum,” and refers not to the cook­ing process it­self, but to the seal­ing of foods in air­tight plas­tic bags in prepa­ra­tion for pro­cess­ing in a warm wa­ter bath pre­cisely con­trolled by an im­mer­sion cir­cu­la­tor, a tool that com­bines a highly sen­si­tive ther­mome­ter, a heater, and a pump to keep the wa­ter mov­ing. A prac­ti­cal in­ter­sec­tion of gas­tron­omy and sci­ence, the tech­nique was de­vel­oped in France for use in com­mer­cial to deeply season and in­fuse fla­vor; and the abil­ity to set the fin­ished dish aside with­out over­cook­ing it — could also make putting din­ner on the ta­ble eas­ier for them.

The bar­ri­ers to bring­ing an im­mer­sion cir­cu­la­tor home — price, size, and com­plex­ity — are now be­gin­ning to dis­solve. “For the long­est time,” said Chris Young, the prin­ci­pal co-au­thor of The Art and Sci­ence of Cook­ing, an en­cy­clo­pe­dic sixvol­ume guide to the un­der­pin­nings of con­tem­po­rary gas­tron­omy and the found­ing chef of He­ston Blu­men­thal’s Fat Duck Ex­per­i­men­tal Kitchen, the culi­nary lab be­hind the in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed restau­rant,

vide “was sim­ply too ex­pen­sive for home cooks. The tools the pro­fes­sional chefs were us­ing were es­sen­tially lab equip­ment and could cost be­tween $1,000 and $2,000 a set-up. Af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of

[in 2011], there were a hand­ful of

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