I should warn you now you are going to be reading a lot of future posts about sous vide. This may seem like some many modernist cuisine technique that you’re not interested in but you’d be surprised to learn that this cooking technique will not only wow everyone you cook for but ensures perfect results every time. If that’s not enough of a pitch I have one more. If you have ever used a crockpot or a pressure cooker to make cooking easier sous vide is just as easy if not even easier.
OK. So what is this whole sous vide thing. Well, the easiest way for me to sum it up is that you use an “immersion circulator” (there are many on the market for home use today, my favorite is Joule by Chefsteps.com). Here’s the premise. You fill any heat proof vessel with water. You plug in your immersion circulator and you put it into the water clipping it to the side of the chosen container. With Joule, you then set the time and temp via an app on your smart phone. You get a push notification when the water has reach the required temperature and then you simply place the item you’re cooking into a ziplock bag into the water (making sure it’s not floating, more on that later) and then set the timer. Since the water is being kept a precise temperature it is next to impossible to over cook whatever you have put in. This low gentle method of cooking also ensures moist juicy meat every time. Yes, it takes longer but you don’t have to sit and watch it. You can go do other things. Heck, I have even gone to the movies or run errands. The main thing is just being there when the item needs to go into the water and when it needs to come out.
I have to say since I have switch to doing all my proteins via sous vide my cooking has become less stressful and the end result is amazingly delicious! Another benefit is that the Joule app even tells you how much to increase the time if the item is frozen! When the sous vide is done the item is fully cooked. However for presentation purposes as well as preferences on texture you can throw it on a hot pan or a grill just to quickly finish it off. A good example of all of this was this weeks lunch…
Cod with Jet-Black Puree and Seared Butter Lettuce
- 300 grams Beluga Lentils
- 1 kilogram Water
- 50 grams Olive Oil
- 40 grams Butter
- 10 grams Squid Ink
- 3.5 grams Salt
- 10 ounces Black Cod
- 1 large Shallot, peeled and sliced in half
- 2 stems Flat-Leaf Parsley
- 2 stems Basil
- 60 grams Creamy Herby Dressing
- Preheat your sous vide to 113ºF. While the water is heating place the fish into a ziplock bag. I like to keep it to no more than 5 ounces per bag. Once the water has come to temperature lower the ziplock in until the water is just below the zipper section. This is called “water displacement” and will keep your fish form floating. Close the bag completely and set a timer for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile start on the puree (this can be done in advance if you prefer). In a 4 quart sauce pan add the lentils and the water. Bring the water to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are very tender. If you need to add more water that’s OK just try to keep it to a minimum. Once the lentils are tender turn off the heat and leave covered.
- In your food processor add the cooked lentils and any liquid that might be left, the oil, butter, squid ink, and salt. Blend until smooth. The recipe did say this can be done in a blender however I find some of these thicker purees can be taxing on a blender. The original recipe even said that this could be passed through a find mesh sieve to get it even smoother but I am thinking the next time I make this I would prefer to reserve about half of the lentils and fold in the puree so that is has more texture not less.
- If your sous vide timer has gone off that’s OK. Just pull the bags out and set them aside on a towel.
- Next start on the salad. This can work with all sorts of lettuces so use whatever you like or that you can find in your grocery store. The recipe originally called for endive but I did this in summer so I used butter lettuce instead. I think it could also work well with something like romaine too.
- Cut the head of lettuce into quarters through the core. Leave the core attached as this will help with keeping everything together as you sear it. Put a non stick fry pan on the stove with a little oil and get it nice and hot. Then place your quartered lettuce cut-side down along with the shallot that is cut in half. You should hear a nice searing sound. Give it a minute or two and then carefully with a spatula turn the quartered lettuce to the other cut side and repeat the sear. Remove the shallots, setting them aside to cool slightly. Once both cut sides are seared place the lettuce on the plate so the seared sides are facing up. Garnish with the fresh herbs. (I used the same ones as I used in my dressing to compliment the flavor.) Thinly slice the shallots and top your salads. Drizzle about 15 grams of the dressing on top.
- Now it’s time to finish the fish. Place the pan you were searing in back over the heat. Add a little oil again and get nice and hot. Very carefully remove the pieces of fish form the bags and place them skin side down in the hot pan. Sear for 1-2 minutes or until you see the desired color from the searing you’d like. Remove the pan from the heat but leave the fish in the pan.
- Place a large dollop of the puree next to the salad. Place the piece of fish directly on top of the puree and garnish with flake/finishing salt.