October 3rd, 2012

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Sous-vide

I finally had a chance to try Sous-vide. Sous-vide is a method of cooking food (mostly meats) in a vacuum-sealed container, which is submerged in a bath of hot water. The idea is simple: Pasteurisation temperature is 131 degrees F; so as long as you raise the temperature a few degrees higher, any food you eat will be safe. The fastest way, of course, is boiling; but boiling will disperse all the juices and make the food taste bland. This is where plastic bags come in: they seal in the flavour while still allowing food to be cooked thoroughly.

Since there are no nearby restaurants that offer Sous-vide steaks, I decided to cook the steaks by myself. Here's how to do it: first, get some expensive meat. Nothing outrageous, of course; I tried Top Sirloin and Tri-Tip. They were around $10/pound; but half a pound is more than enough for most people (if served properly, with two sides). Season the steak using SOFA (Salt, Oil, Flavor, Acid): pepper, salt, lemon juice, and a dash, and put it into a zipper storage bag. (I used a sandwich Ziploc.) Fill a pot with hot tap water, set it on low heat, and get a thermometer, a chopstick, and a clip (any clip). As soon as the temperature reaches 130 degrees F, dip the bag in the water and suction the air. Then close the bag, put the clip on top of the bag, put the chopstick through the clip, and rest it on both sides of the pot. The meat should be fully underwater, while the top of the bag should be above water.

Then, carefully control the temperature so that it's between 131 and 140 Fahrenheit. 131 will yield a Medium-rare steak, while 140 will yield a Medium steak. Cook the steaks for at least 90 minutes (but do consult a Sous-vide cooking chart if your steak is extra-thick or cold). Right before serving, pre-heat a frying pan on high temperature, and fry the steaks on both sides for about 100 seconds to get a brown crust. (I tried grilling and frying; frying, surprisingly, tastes better.) Voila!

You will have a tender, delicious, 8-ounce steak that costs $5 and tastes as good as a $30 steak in an expensive steakhouse. (Thanks, Microsoft, for treating our team to lunch! :-)) The meat will be reddish-pink when you cut it. Don't worry: it's not blood, it's simply Pasteurised Myoglobin. But be careful: you might not want to go out to a steakhouse afterwards.
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