Recently, I was asked, “What is the intent of my blog?” My response, “To share something that I love.”
For as long as I have been cooking and baking, I still get excited about food. It’s a continuous learning process that never gets boring. I still love creating new recipes. I still love to read cookbooks like novels. It's my thing to search the grocery store aisles for new products. Further, it’s not unheard of for me to drive miles out of my way seeking the best, the freshest and the most exotic ingredients. People who know me understand that vacation time includes a stroll through a local market for foodie souvenirs and perhaps a cooking class to better understand the regional cuisine.
So, it was with great joy that I accepted an invitation to the International Sous Vide Association (ISVA) Summit to learn a new cooking technique. This was exciting stuff with new food possibilities. To be honest, before the conference, I wasn’t at all familiar with cooking food under vacuum in a temperature-controlled water bath. In fact, I don’t think I ever even ate anything cooked that way. In my ignorance, I was pretty sure that only very high-end restaurants were serving sous vide. The French Laundry, Alinea and Per Se were not in my budget nor were the cost of the immersion circulator (sous vide machine) and accessories. I had a lot to learn.
The Summit Offerings
And the conference delivered. In an ongoing flow over 2 ½ days I was immersed in a wonderful world of knowledgeable speakers and vendors. I was captivated by the enthusiasm of not only the professional chefs, but also that of the home cooks and even BBQ guys. The conference had something for everyone. The sessions on sous vide science and history were informative. The cooking demos and food photography are mouth-watering plus lots to eat and drink.
What you need to sous vide
The overwhelming take-away from the conference is that this type of cooking has indeed trickled down to the home kitchen for a number of good reasons. First and foremost, it is affordable. I purchased a highly rated immersion circulator for under $115.00 at the conference. A large stockpot, some heavy-duty Ziploc bags and a clip (things I already had in my kitchen) complete the tools needed. Second, precision cooking insures whatever it is you are making comes out consistently great. I can guarantee that my sous vide steak will be cooked to my perfectly juicy 134 degrees or your perfect 130 degrees every time.
In addition, I can set it and forget it. There is no hovering over an immersion circulator like you would a stove. Big bonus is that the machine itself is compact and takes up little room in my already crowded cabinets. Further, it is great for batch cooking on the weekends for those who are working and want to come home and fix dinner in just a few minutes. Grab your sous vide steak from the fridge and give it a quick sear in a pan or on the grill and dinner is done. Finally, just about anything from entrees to desserts (maybe not popcorn) can be cooked sous vide. There are plenty of cookbooks and recipes on the subject available including a new book I happen to have a recipe in. Champions of Sous Vide (available on Amazon) is a collection of 75 delicious recipes including a mouth-watering photo of each plus the best tips and steps from 2 dozen sous vide enthusiasts. Would you like a copy? Lucky you! I am gifting a book on my Instagram page.
So, is sous vide cooking for everyone? I don’t know. Like my favorite knife or skillet, I look at it as one more option in my kitchen toolbox as well as a new way to think about and experiment with food. If you would like to learn more about sous vide cooking be sure to check out the ISVA web site and consider attending one of their conferences. And if you are ready to give sous vide cooking a try shop around for an immersion circulator and read reviews.