First of all, I’d like to thank Snickers for taking over the blog last week. I have been very busy and really appreciate his attempt to cover for me. He’s so sweet and helpful and I’m glad you all have had a chance to hear from him. I will let him do a lot of the writing when we take off on our adventure. For today, back to food…
I have been using a sou vide machine for about two months now. I had been thinking about getting one for over a year but it seemed kind of frivolous and I wasn’t sure I would use it enough to justify the expense. But when I decided to downsize my kitchen, and after doing a lot of research, I realized that this tool could take up a small space and do a lot of work!
“Sou Vide” is French for “under vacuum”. It describes a form of cooking where you vacuum seal a piece of food, submerge it in water, and cook it slowly at a low, steady temperature. This ensures that the food never exceeds the perfect level of doneness. Vegetables stay crisp and don’t lose any nutrition into their cooking water, because they don’t ever contact the cooking water. Chicken breasts cannot dry out because they don’t get hot enough to squeeze the moisture out of them, as so often happens when they are baked or sautéed. Beef remains at a perfect medium rare (my preferred temperature for the quintessential steak). I have even learned to enjoy cooking fish, my kitchen nemesis!
If you’ve checked out my yogurt post of a week or so ago, you’ve seen my sou vide machine in action. It’s perfect for keeping the milk and culture mixture at the perfect temperature for curd development. It makes the entire yogurt making process easy, and relatively care free.
There are a variety of machines on the market. Some will attach to your phone via Bluetooth or wifi. The benefit of these machines is that they come with recipes on your phone or the company’s website, which can make the process pretty foolproof. I don’t like the idea of any website tracking my cooking and kitchen habits (except this one) so I decided to go a little more basic. I just fill a container with water, clip the machine onto the edge, making sure that the water is between the minimum and maximum water lines and plug it in. I can set the water temperature and cooking time, then just press the “on” button and prepare my food while the water heats to the correct temperature. I have to do a little more research but my kitchen doesn’t tell anyone what I’m doing!
Today, I decided to tackle (hah!) fish in the sou vide water bath. I found some swordfish steaks at my local grocery store that looked pretty good so decided to give it a try.
I patted my swordfish steak dry with a paper towel and sprinkled both sides with salt and pepper. I looked in the spice cupboard and found some Za’tar, a Middle Eastern herb and spice blend containing thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and other herbs. This is one of my favorite mixtures for chicken and fish as it is flavorful but not overwhelming. I added a little extra sumac because it adds a citrusy tang and I didn’t have any lemon zest on hand. I placed it in the vacuum bag with a little bit of olive oil and sealed it up.
I heat the water bath up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the perfect temperature for swordfish, according to the temperature guide that came with my machine. After clipping the bag of vacuum sealed fish and spices into the water, I set the timer for 30 minutes. After the timer went off, I took out the packet, dried it off and sliced off the top. While flavorful and perfectly cooked, the appearance of my steak leaves much to be desired. It’s pallid, pale, and pasty looking! Easily fixed! I heat up my trusty cast iron skillet to rocket temperatures and slap that steak onto the blazing surface. Wait 30 seconds, flip it over, wait another 30 seconds and a perfectly golden seared surface appears. Crispy, tasty, and perfectly tender inside, the lovely swordfish steak becomes an elegant entrée.
Sou vide cooking is easy, takes up very little space, and does not heat up a kitchen on a steamy summer day. An added benefit is that my dish washing water is already hot. I just need to pour it into the sink and add soap!