As many of you know, I’m a fairly adventurous eater. For the most part, my foolhardy foodie forays have been limited to menu items at whatever eatery I happen to be visiting. Lately, however, I’ve been doing some experimenting in the kitchen. What follows are a few of my most recent culinary conquests.
Akemi bought me a sous-vide machine for Christmas. For those of you who don’t know, sous-vide is a cooking method in which food is placed into an vacuum-sealed pouch and then immersed in a temperature-controlled water bath and cooked for an extended period. It’s supposed to seal in the flavors and ensure precise cooking because, once a certain temperature is set, whatever is being cooked remains at said temperature until it is served.
First up, I tried my hand at steak -
Apparently, one of the bonuses of cooking sous-vide is that it ensures that even the cheaper cuts turn out tender and juicy. All the same, I elected to go with my favorite: the rib-eye. I cooked at it at 130 degrees fahrenheit (about 54.5 celsius) for about an hour to yield a nice medium-rare. One of the great things about preparing food sous-vide is that you don’t have to be overly concerned about the timing. A few minutes in a pan or in the oven could mean the difference between rare and well-done but, in the sous-vide machine, the internal temperature remains constant.
The only drawback to this mode of cooking is that you miss that crusty sear only a pan can deliver – which is why, once my steak was done, I popped it onto a hot cast-iron skillet for 30 seconds on each side.
The verdict? Delicious. A perfect steak. The following weekend, I experimented with a variety of different cuts (t-bone, tenderloin, sirloin and, again, rib-eye). The steaks were good but not as good as the first time around owing to the fact that I failed to give them a proper sear. And, for what it’s worth, while all the cuts delivered tenderness and taste, the rib-eye still came out on top.
The next day, I decided to try the same method with fish. I picked up an opah filet at my local fishmonger. It’s a fish similar to tuna in taste and texture.
I seasoned, sealed the fish, then immersed it and cooked it at a temperature of 135 fahrenheit (about 57 celsius) for about 45 minutes. The results?
Good but slightly overcooked, a far cry from the stunning version I enjoyed a month earlier. In that case, broiling yielded a perfect opah: mouth-meltingly mi-cuit on the inside and possessed of nice exterior crispiness. I think that, next time, I’m going to go with a lower temperature and use the same searing method I used on the rib-eye.
Oh, and just so it’s not all protein, accompanying the fish was a salad:
One of the things Akemi was particularly looking to preparing sous-vide was a simple egg. She cooked it at 145.5 fahrenheit (about 63 celsius) for 70 minutes. It yielded a yolk just a touch above soft-boiled.
If you like your eggs just a touch runny (which I do), they were perfect. I’ll never boil an egg on the stove again. Provided I don’t mind waiting over an hour to eat.
I was on a sous-vide tear! I decided to try my hand at lamb chops! I followed the same routine, seasoning and sealing -
I immersed them at a temperature of 133 degrees fahrenheit (56 celsius) for about 30 minutes, then removed them from the water bath and gave them a quick sear -
The results? Only the best lamb chops I’ve ever had!
In addition to giving the new sous-vide machine a work-out, Akemi and I also worked with the classic tried and true cooking methods as well…
I had the guys over for football last weekend and I was going to spring the following little surprise on them, a tasty variation of pork rinds inspired by a Top Chef episode. But I forgot. So I ended up making it the next day for Akemi and I:
I picked up a bag of chicken skin at my local butcher (you’d be amazed what they have hiding in the back), then rinsed and patted them dry before spreading them out on a parchment-lined baking tray and sprinkling them with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and smoked serrano powder. I then lay down another layer of parchment and set a weighted second tray on top before putting them in the oven and baking them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. After that, I removed the top covering pan and parchment and let them broil under the high heat for another 5 minutes.
The results? I hate to say it, but they were unbelievably good. And highly addictive. Forget the canapes. Serve these at your next party!