Steve’s Sous-Vide Salmon Adventure

March 6, 2013 | By | COMMENTS

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[Back in December, Craig was shooting his movie in New York and Craig's parents came to visit the set. While we were hanging out, I received an e-mail from a company called Sous Vide Supreme offering to send me a "demi" Sous Vide machine to write about on my blog. I politely refused (don't have the space for it in L.A.) and mentioned it to Craig's dad, Steve. "Oh gee," he said, "I'd love to try some sous vide cooking at home." "Well," I said, "I could have them send the machine to you if you'd agree to do a guest post?" Julee, Craig's mom and Steve's wife, interjected: "Now Steve, do we really have room for that?" Steve brushed off her worry: "Let's do it!" What follows is Steve's account of cooking sous vide for the first time. Hopefully this is the first in a series of Steve's sous vide cooking adventures. Take it away, Steve!]

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Several years ago, I had dinner at a very nice Seattle restaurant. I ordered short ribs and they were the most tender, velvety, perfectly-cooked short ribs I ever had.

I asked the server how they prepared them and he explained they were cooked “sous vide.” I had never heard this term before and he explained that it is a cooking method that uses a low-temperature water bath to cook vacuum-sealed food. It prevents food from being overcooked, will hold cooked food at a constant temperature until it is served. The result is tender, flavorful and perfectly cooked food that can be prepared with very little margin of error.

I was intrigued by this and wanted to try it at home. However, I learned the best sous vide cooking required special equipment, including a water heating tank and a vacuum sealer. These were beyond my budget so I dropped the idea.

Recently, my wife and I were in New York visiting with Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet. (We are Craig’s parents). I mentioned my interest in sous vide cooking. Adam said he could provide me with sous vide equipment from SousVide Supreme if I would try it and report on the experience.

I jumped at this chance.

Adam sent me a SousVide Supreme tank, vacuum-sealer and plastic sealing bags and I was ready to go.

I chose a fillet of previously-frozen sockeye salmon:

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I found a recipe for Honey-glazed Salmon from the SousVide Supreme website. I divided the fillet into two servings and drizzled each with olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

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I filled the sous vide tank with water and heated it to 120 degrees, slightly more than recommended for rare.

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I vacuum-sealed each piece in the food-grade plastic pouches that were provided and placed them on the rack for immersion.

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The fillets went into the tank and I set the timer for 30 minutes while I prepared rice and wilted sautéed spinach.

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After 30 minutes, I removed the fillets from the water, opened the pouches and brushed the cooked fillets with a sauce made from honey, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and melted butter.

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The beauty of sous vide cooking is that I could have left the fish in the tank at a constant temperature for much longer (an hour or so) if needed without overcooking it.

I ran the salmon under a broiler for a few minutes to sear and color the fillets.

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The result was a perfectly cooked, delicious salmon dinner. We eat a lot of salmon here in the Pacific Northwest and this was among the best I’ve had. My wife, Julee, agreed wholeheartedly.

The SousVide Supreme equipment worked like a charm and has opened up a new world of home cooking opportunities for me. Here is the finished product:

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It was a great first experience with sous vide cooking. Thanks, Adam!

Next up – Rib Eye Steak cooked Sous Vide from Secrets of the Best Chefs.

I can’t wait!

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Categories: Guest Posts

  • Pat H.

    I agree, more Steve posts please! This looks mouthwatering, and something that I would like to try myself. Thank you for setting this up so that we may enjoy his guest post.

  • Elizabeth

    Great job, Steve!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Chase/731391326 Julie Chase

    Nice! I don’t have the ability to cook salmon via this technique, but I am absolutely making that sauce.

  • Shelley

    I would also love to try sous-vide cooking, but I don’t want to have to invest in another appliance to do it. Is there a poor man’s/woman’s version of sous-vide – i.e., using a food-grade version of a Ziploc bag and a pot of simmering water?

  • http://www.chimpanzeeteaparty.com/ J.W. Hamner

    Yes. Check out Beer Cooler Sous Vide over at Serious Eats. Works great for anything with a (relatively) short sous vide cooking time of an hour or less… like fish or steak… but not applicable to something like short ribs that take 36 hours or more.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Shelley, yes: I write all about it in my book in the chapter on Dave Arnold and Nils Noren. It’s harder to get a vacuum seal, but you can play around and see if you like the technique.

  • Belinda Hortizuela

    I am absolutely interested in sous-vide cooking. I have been seeing it a lot featured in cooking shows. But the question is, how much does a unit cost? Looking forward to more of Steve’s guest postings.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Belinda, that particular unit costs $329. Click the link in my intro for the full info.

  • Dan

    I hate to be the one naysayer…To me, the salmon almost looks over sour-vided (my new word) and falling apart?

  • Marcy

    One thing people have to be prepared for with certain items cooked sous vide – particularly chicken breast and salmon – is there’s a texture difference. The salmon is almost custardy which may be why one commenter noted that it looked like it was falling apart. It’s nice if you like it but can be off-putting if you don’t.

  • Katie

    We used to do eggs that way when camping – put everything in a bag, push out as much air as possible, and toss it in a pot over a campfire. I always thought it was because camping food gets boring, but apparently we were being super fancy.

  • ag

    The texture of the salmon looks off, and I’d venture to say it doesn’t look very attractive. Was it falling apart as much as it looks to be? Was there a texture issue?

  • ag

    Also curious about the white fat congealing in the picture of the salmon submered in water. I thought this was a sign of salmon cooking too quickly or being overcooked. Is there a reason the sous vide creates this impression

  • Anonymous

    Salmon is one of the easiest things to ghetto-sous-vide. I just put mine in a ziplock back, get as much air out as possible, and put in a cooler with a thermometer and appropriate temperature water. I like to put something on top (not super heavy so that it stays at the bottom, but enough to keep it submerged. I use a towel, but whatever works). I check the water occasionally and add more hot water as necessary. Play around with different times, but going a little longer is usually a good idea since you don’t have as much temp control and as such baddies might survive a little longer.

    I’ve done burgers this way as well, but it didn’t work as well with a full steak.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, due to the relatively short cooking time, any old pot or vessel would probably work, you just have to check the temp more often and add more hot water.

  • Linn

    Well done Craig’s dad! Love your post. Right there is the passion for food and innovations together. Hope to read another post about the Rib Eye Steak from Steve!

  • Gaia

    It’s surely delicious but it looks like it has a problem with albumin…

  • Graham

    Sous Vide, isn’t this just “boil in the bag”?

    It isn’t really cooking at all; there is no smell, no sound, no visual clues to
    doneness, no magic. Cooking methods have evolved over millennia and in a myriad of different cultures but all involve the same thing, the appliance of heat to
    food in order to make it more palatable and delicious. In my opinion we’d do
    better to look back to traditional methods proven over time rather than
    applauding every novelty, usually for its own sake, that why I have started a small scale publishing company http://www.cookeryclassics.com in order to bring long neglected cookery books back to life as updated editions for iPad.

    If you are interested samples are available to download at iBooks:

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mrs.-wilsons-cook-book/id597930000?ls=1

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dictionary-of-food/id597926404?ls=1

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/meat-poultry-fish-shellfish/id597922378?ls=1

    I have also started the Cookery Heritage blog to which I hope your readers will contribute. http://www.cookeryheritage.com Leave a message…

    Graham

  • Hermus

    Very interesting! But any concerns about cooking in plastic? Are the bags BPA-free for instance?

  • Becca

    My mouth is watering. Looking forward to the next post by Steve!

  • Rooney

    I have been using a sous vide machine for over a year and love it. I just read the recipe in Adam’s book for rib steak, which seems overly complicated. My method is to season the steak (the thicker the steak, the better), vacuum seal it, and cook it for an hour. When I’m ready to serve, I heat a cast iron griddle or pot until it is extremely hot and sear the steak briefly on each side. I’ve never had issues with food safety and the meat is spectacular, cooked to the desired doneness (water temp is the variable) throughout the whole steak. I have used the same technique for a rib roast (longer cooking time) and it is fantastic. I have too many appliances but this one will never go.

  • Shelley

    Wow…thanks, everyone! This is the first time I’ve posted a comment on a cooking blog, and I’m quite overwhelmed by the response. :) I’m definitely going to try it.

  • Mike

    I really enjoyed your post, Steve! Great job on it btw :-) I’ve always wanted to see how that entire process is done.

  • Shelley

    I’m wondering about this, too, particularly if you’re using one of the inexpensive methods suggested below (see the replies to my previous comment).

  • Melinda

    Pops is a far better writer than sonny boy. He should take over this blog.

  • http://twitter.com/meghanssj Meghanssj

    fascinating! The first time I saw sous vide cooking wasn’t long ago. I think it was a Voltaggio on Top Chef. Then, on some foodie documentary a high falutin chef used oil instead of water for a more uniform temp in the sous vide apparatus. Does your sous vide work with oil, or just water? I don’t eat meat, so this gadget isn’t high on my list, unless you tell me there is some vegetable or pasta that can be magically transformed by sous vide cooking. Eggs?

  • Katie

    oooo I’m jealous of your sous vide!! Great post!

  • Patty

    Welcome Steve! I loved the post, & it made me want to try sous vide cooking- so mission accomplished! The salmon looks delicious, & I can’t wait to read about your steak experiment.

  • Anu

    Nice! I’ve always wanted to see how sous vide machine works. I’m not sure I will use it enough to warrant $300+..

  • Anu

    Nice! I’ve always wanted to see how sous vide machine works. I’m not sure I will use it enough to warrant $300+..

  • Anu

    Could you try an electric skillet? You could get it anywhere for around $40, control the temperature, and may be use a ziplock bag? I’ve been fascinated by electric skillet cooking, ever since I saw the good eats episode on poaching.

  • Anu

    Could you try an electric skillet? You could get it anywhere for around $40, control the temperature, and may be use a ziplock bag? I’ve been fascinated by electric skillet cooking, ever since I saw the good eats episode on poaching.

  • Vanessa

    It looks good!! Honey glaze was an awesome idea.

    ps. Craig’s parents sound like really nice people :)

  • pascale

    great that Craig’s parents did a post. It was interesting and YES! they do sound like really nice people!!!

  • Shelley

    I was wondering that, too. We don’t have one, and I’m not sure what temperature range they have. Also not sure they’d be deep enough to submerge a bag of salmon without it touching the bottom.

  • Rosie

    Great post! More Sous Vide with Steve!

  • http://www.worldclasslasik.com/manhattan-lasik-center-must-ask-questions More About Lasik

    Wow! Nice job! I was thinking about trying a new method of preparing salmon, but I don’t this will be the one! :D I am too clumsy, and it seems to be something that needs more cooking experience.

  • jlhpisces

    great post! Although sous vide is out of the budget of most home cooks, it’s great to see someone take advantage of the opportunity! Maybe we could get a post all about sous vide short ribs?

  • Anonymous

    I’m so glad I saw this post, I’ve been researching sous vide machines now for a few months. Like you, I had a dish that open my eyes to the style of cooking this past year. They are definitely expensive but more and more I’m thinking that they are worth every penny.

    - jessica

  • simon

    The Sous Sous Vide!

    Hey there,
    I already have a kitchen vacuum bag sealer – exactly like the Sous Vide one except it was about $100. I will try putting a large casserole dish full of water into the oven at 120 degree then seal some fresh salmon in a bag. I will weigh the fish down with a cake rack or something and will use a digital thermometer to check the oven accuracy. Let’s see how that goes!

    Simon

  • Anonymous

    Tried this tonight using a crockpot/dorkfood sous vide set-up. I put three salmon steaks in one bag and cooked at 125 degrees for 25 minutes. Then broiled one minute on each side with the recommended sauce. Very good!! Thanks so much for posting.