Sous vide – French for “under vacuum”– is a gentler, more relaxed way to cook. But don’t confuse modern sous-vide cooking with boil-in-the-bag TV dinners. Nothing is boiled, nothing gets that hot. Cooking temperatures in sous-vide cuisine mostly range between 57 C (134 F) and 71 C (160 F), and cooking times tend to be longer, but can also be surprisingly rapid. Foods such as fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, even eggs, are vacuum-sealed in a durable plastic bag, along with a drop of oil or butter and some seasonings, and are then – traditionally – circulated in a hot water bath or, better yet, steam cooked in Gaggenauʼs 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven.
Chef Devan Rajkumar pops a tray of vacuum-sealed salmon into the Gaggenau 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven. This gorgeous built-in unit generates steam heat for even, moist and gentle cooking, and since it cooks with both wet and dry heat, it eliminates the need for a separate sous-vide countertop unit. The vacuum-sealing unit is tucked neatly away behind a sleek steel drawer.
Photo: Thomas Bollmann
What results is meltingly tender, delicately poached, intensely flavourful and more nutritious, because nutrients aren’t killed by extreme heat and they can’t escape. Many chefs agree, it’s a healthier way to cook. And because flavours are intensified by being under pressure, less salt or added fats are needed. And there’s more – literally – because the bag is airtight, all of a food’s natural goodness and volume is retained – there is no shrinkage.
Sous vide has been an integral part of industrial-scale cooking – think airline and railway caterers, institutions and the military – for decades. Recently, though, some of the world’s top chefs – Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal and Toronto’s own Claudio Aprile – have brought the process into the spotlight. Now, Gaggenau is bringing it to the home cook, too.
A fan of what sous vide brings to cooking, guest executive chef Devan Rajkumar was thrilled to work in the Gaggenau Luxe Appliance Studio. “I love the gentle nature and pinpoint precision of sous-vide cooking, and the unmatched craftsmanship found in Gaggenau appliances,” he said.
Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Once a Quebec secret, now claimed by all of Canada as our national vice, poutine is a guilty pleasure made more decadent with the addition of luscious caramelized onions. Here, the magic of sous vide gives the short-rib gravy a depth of flavour and richness that would normally take hours and hours to achieve.
Line a baking sheet with kitchen towel; set aside.
Fill a pot suitable for deep frying one-third the way up with oil. Set over medium heat to begin. Adjust heat and use a thermometer to bring oil to approximately 250 F.
Cut potato into fries of desired thickness.
Once oil is hot, add fries in small batches – don’t overcrowd or the temperature will drop too low and the pot may boil over. Blanch for 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer batches of blanched fries to prepared baking sheet. Set aside and allow excess oil to drain until ready for the final fry, which can be done once the caramelized onions and short-rib gravy are ready.
Heat oil to 350 F. Add the fries to the oil and cook until golden brown, approximately three to five minutes. Then transfer to a medium bowl and toss with salt, pepper and cheese curds.
Into a skillet over medium-low heat, add all the ingredients for the caramelized onions. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until richly dark and meltingly soft. Cover and set aside.
Place short rib and demi-glace in a bag and vacuum seal. Cook sous vide at 175 F for 20 minutes. Remove from the water bath and carefully squeeze the bag to break up the meat into small pieces. Set aside.
Serve this elegant poutine in a stack. Into two bowls or soup plates, start with a layer of fries and curds, then top with gravy, then with a layer of onions and chives. Repeat, finishing with a garnish of chives, and serve immediately.
Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Add the salmon, maple syrup and olive oil to a vacuum-seal bag. Seal and place in the Gaggenau 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven. Set at 150 F for 28 minutes.
Roast corn over an open flame or under a broiler – turning often – until nicely charred in spots. Using a sharp chef’s knife, shave off kernels, trying to keep them in clusters.
Remove salmon from the oven and vacuum bag, and using a fork, flake the meat into bite-sized pieces.
Put vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until translucent. Add cauliflower, cream, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is falling-apart soft.
Use an immersion blender (or wand) to purée. Then, for an even finer texture if desired, press through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Cover and set aside to keep warm until ready to serve.
Assemble the dish in this order: black rice drizzled with one to two teaspoons of the ponzu sauce, followed by the salmon, cauliflower purée, corn, and finally, crispy onions. This dish should be served warm. Optional garnishes are cooked edamame and thinly sliced radish.
Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Combine 2 ounces of the chocolate and ½ cup of the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir occasionally to melt and combine.
Add vanilla, egg, graham crumbs, coconut and pecans to the melted chocolate and press into the bottom of a greased 9-inch square baking pan and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside on rack to cool completely in the pan – approximately 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, whisk custard powder and milk together. Add ¼ cup melted butter and icing sugar; continue to whisk until fully incorporated. Pour over cooled crust and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt remaining 2 ounces chocolate; when smooth, spread evenly over cooled and set custard layer. Refrigerate overnight before cutting.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine ingredients for orange ganache, allowing flavours to blend. Remove from heat and transfer to a squeeze bottle.
Add ginger and water to a vacuum bag. Seal and cook sous vide at 147 F for two hours. Remove from the bag, place on a wire rack and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Allow to dry overnight on a wire rack.
To serve, cut a 2-inch by 2-inch piece of Nanaimo bar and coarsely chop. Add this to the bottom of a dessert bowl. Add a scoop of the maple ice cream, drizzle with the orange ganache, top with the crystallized ginger and garnish with a few more crumbles of Nanaimo bar, if desired.
More from the series:
Made popular by molecular gastronomists Ferran Adrià, Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal and Toronto’s own Claudio Aprile, sous vide – French for “under vacuum” – is a gentler way to cook.
Food and drink enthusiasts were in for a culinary treat at a recent event held at downtown Toronto’s sleek and stylish Luxe Kitchen Appliance Studio, where cocktails and sous vide tapas proved surprisingly natural partners.