Published on November 10th, 2013 | by Greg
Sous Vide Creative: Professional Results At Home
One of the big trends in food over the past few years is an alternative method for cooking called sous vide. Chances are, unless you’ve dined in a high-end modernist restaurant that uses cutting edge techniques like spherification, you might not be familiar with it. But it dates back to the 1960s, and the idea is pretty simple, even if it still requires some specialized equipment. In fact, a lack of widespread understanding led directly to the writing of the Modernist Cuisine book, an excellent resource on contemporary cooking.
The PolyScience Sous Vide Professional Creative is an immersion circulator that allows precise control over temperature and time. While most people associate air-sealed vacuum plastic bags with storage, you can actually use them to cook, in a water bath. Heat up the water, and let the food cook for a long time- as much as a couple of days- and you’ve got tender, flavorful meats and fish that have a texture unlike anything else you’ve tried. Juices and aromas are trapped, ensuring that everything tastes great, and there are some likely health benefits as well (charcoal from burning your meats isn’t exactly good for you). Of course, sous vide has limits- you might still want to brown your steak, or get a crisp skin on your salmon.
And though there are many devices out there that make sous vide preparation easier, professionals typically want a visible, repeatable method. With this Sous Vide Creative circulator, you simply get a large enough pan or better yet a polycarbonate bin, attach the circulator to the side, dial in your settings, and you’re ready to walk away and come back to your finished meal. There will be trial and error, and you’ll still need some other materials, like a vacuum sealer and bags the right size (FoodSaver makes a complete line). Our first attempts were pretty mediocre, but with a bit of work and research- and thanks to the included recipes and helpful guides- we managed to create solid results for a group of six people. And instead of rushing around a kitchen, filling it with smoke, we eventually figured out a process to allow us to set it all up 10-12 hours in advance and have it ready to go on demand. Unlike grilling, baking or any stovetop cooking, with sous vide you have a lot of flexibility, and can safely leave an item “cooking” for quite a while (brisket, for example, is fine for up to 12 hours after it’s recommended minimum cooking time).
As with any kitchen gadget, we recommend some serious thought before picking one up- it can be all too easy to end up with a rack or closet full of under-utilized gear. Unless you’re already an amateur chef with a bit of experience, this circulator can be a bit intimidating, and sous vide can be a pretty dangerous method in the wrong hands. Patience is a necessity, as is a willingness to throw away your mistakes and try again. That said, this is an amazing tool in the right hands, a fairly inexpensive entry to sous vide that doesn’t take up nearly as much space as one of the cookers, and is far better than a cheap circulator. PolyScience makes the gear for the professionals, and this consumer model looks and feels great, solid, stable, and well-designed. Impress folks over Thanksgiving- or make your next dinner party a smash- by trying out sous vide.