Sous Vide
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A master class in the art of sous vide

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. In truth, celebrity chefs just made it sexy. Big food corporations in the business of feeding the masses – think airline and railway caterers, and the military – have been preparing food this way for decades.

But don’t think sous vide is just a fancy way of saying boil-in-the-bag. Boiling never enters into the equation. Sous-vide cooking temperatures tend to range between 57 C (134 F) and 71 C (160 F). Foods, along with a drop of oil or butter, and some herbs and spices, are vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag, then either floated in a hot water bath or, as is the Gaggenau way, popped into the 400 Series Combi-Steam Oven to cook low and slow. What emerges – ranging from meltingly tender meat or fish to delicately poached root veggies or even fruit – is intensely flavourful and more nutritious.

Sous-vide cooking naturally intensifies a food’s own flavour, so less salt is needed, and because the pouch is airtight, all of the food’s natural nutrients, juices and fats are retained, and there are no added fats from cooking oil and nothing is lost to a cooking pan or to the air – food cooked sous-vide means zero shrinkage. As well, it tastes great, looks great and is great for you, nutrition-wise.

Gaggenau chef Nikko Jacino glides from cutting board to a sleek, yet discreet under-the-counter vacuum-sealer drawer to steam oven, making prepping the night’s tasting menu look way too easy.

Growing up in a food-loving Italian home, cooking with real, fresh and seasonal ingredients was simply part of everyday life. Now, at 27 he has a natural ease with both iron-age and cutting-edge culinary tools and technology, as well as a passion for feeding groups of hungry – and critical – foodies.

Chef Nikko explains how sous vide gives him an edge. “Sous vide allows me more flexibility with my cooking processes while delivering outstanding results. It’s also a very forgiving way to cook. From vegetables to meats and desserts, it employs lower temperatures than conventional cooking methods, which in turn allows for food to cook under less stressful environments. This gives novice cooks at home an advantage, allowing them to create restaurant quality dishes without years of training and experience.”

Nikko Jacino, Executive Chef, Luxe Appliance Studio

Photo: Thomas Bollmann

Click right through the arrows to follow the sous vide preparation
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
In a twist on traditional ceviche, where the seafood is “cooked” with citric acid – most often freshly squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice – Chef Nikko is par-cooking these plump Japanese Hokkaido scallops sous-vide for his Sous Vide Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche. The scallops will gently poach in the steam oven at 54.4 C (130 F), allowing them to retain their firm but delicate texture and fresh ocean flavour. Chef Nikko loves cooking sous-vide: “This method intensifies the natural flavours of any ingredient you cook.” He even sous-vides an English cucumber, not so much to cook it, but simply to render it more cucumbery.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
In a technique that transports him back to culinary school, Chef Nikko employs some fine knife skills to separate the flesh of a couple of juicy navel oranges from the pith – the fruit’s tough and bitter connective tissue – for the finished ceviche. The perfectly segmented orange will add a sweet tang to the finished dish – a well-orchestrated balancing act of sweet, tart, heat and richness.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
A mandoline is just the right tool to shave these gorgeous heirloom radishes into translucently thin slices. Soon to be part of the finished ceviche, they will add a fine, delicate crunch to the ceviche, plus another twist – this time, perhaps a nod to Chef Nikko’s Canadian background integrated into this traditionally tropical dish. No mandoline? No worries! Chef Nikko says that any box grater’s side with the single slicing blade will do the trick nicely.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Most of us have encountered husk cherries (aka ground cherries, Cape gooseberries) on our dessert plates and, sadly, until we knew better, we may have left them there. But these delightfully tart cousins of the tomatillo – they’re all members of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants – have a unique flavour that’s almost kiwi-like and with a creamy texture. Here, Chef Nikko peels away the sticky papery husk off each fruit, to be added to the ceviche.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
It’s slow, meticulous work, cutting the tiny loin away from the rib bones of this rack of Ontario grass-fed lamb. Once the loin has been separated from the bones, using his Japanese boning knife, Chef Nikko will patiently trim all of the connective tissue – silver skin, fat and sinew – from the loin, leaving nothing but the delicately lean, tender cut, which will be lightly seasoned and cooked sous-vide, rare and juicy.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Beautifully trimmed, the lamb loin is placed in the pouch, vacuum-sealed and cooked sous-vide with a dollop of butter – to help enrichen the lean cut – garlic confit, fresh thyme and bay leaves. Just before plating, Chef Nikko will sear the lamb in a good old-fashioned, smoking-hot cast-iron skillet for colour and caramelization. In the Gaggenau kitchen, he often combines the latest technologies with timeless cooking traditions, methods and tools.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Sous vide works wonders with fibrous fruits, too. Chef Nikko prepares a fresh pineapple for the steam treatment. Once it’s peeled and cored, he’ll add brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, vanilla bean and a splash of brandy to the bag before sealing and steaming it at 60 C (140 F) for about 30 minutes. The softened pineapple will be served warm with smashed meringue and toasted coconut.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Because this beautiful piece of organic Canadian salmon isn’t going to see the inside of a hot pan to crisp its skin, Chef Nikko discards the skin. This accomplishes three good things – no rubbery skin at the end, no second step of pan-searing required, and during the sous-vide process the flavourings will penetrate all surfaces of the flesh.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Chef Nikko takes just a few seconds to vacuum-seal the pouch of salmon and seasonings (a drop of grapeseed oil, ribbons of orange peel, fresh dill and garlic). He’ll sous-vide the fish at 57.2 C (135 F) for 25 minutes, and the lovely coral-pink salmon will remain moist and mouth-watering and will flake perfectly. Sous vide technology is a more recent addition to the Gaggenau kitchen. “Having received the Gaggenau vacuum sealer not too long ago, I've just begun exploring the tip of the iceberg with sous-vide cooking. I’ve cooked with basic ingredients to get a feel for how it works and, so far, I'm very impressed. I’m excited to experiment with pork belly next.”
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Sous Vide Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche is stunning to look at and a delightful revelation to eat. This pretty dish is bursting with surprising flavours and textures – sumptuous sea scallop, crisp radish, tiny sweetly hot Peruvian chili peppers, tart orange, sour husk cherries and brilliantly green cilantro microgreen in fresh lime juice.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Sous Vide Organic Canadian Salmon on Couscous is a melt-in-the-mouth dish dressed with a silky-smooth sauce of rich heavy cream, fresh dill, maple syrup, garlic and onion, infused with orange.
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Photo: Thomas Bollmann
Sous Vide Loin of Ontario Lamb is perfectly pink inside, sits on a swoosh of creamy steamed parsnip purée with a dash of spiced jus – clove, green cardamom, allspice and black peppercorns – and is finished with decadent stacks of crispy-fried leeks. Chef Nikko is a big fan of cooking lamb sous-vide; “It’s my favourite food to sous-vide right now. Then again, so is chicken supreme. Sous-vide lamb, when cooked properly, comes out great and is cooked evenly, from top to tip. And, typically, chicken supremes are overcooked and dry, but sous vide gives me the most moist and flavour-packed chicken breast I’ve had yet!”

More from the series:

To book a visit with one of our product consultants or for a cooking demo with Chef Nikko, call 1-888-966-LUXE. And take advantage of special offers on Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau appliances.

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