Sous Vide

08th September
2013
written by scott

sansaire $199 sous vide machine

I am beyond thrilled to announce that our Kickstarter campaign for the Sansaire has been successfully funded*, and we’re now open for pre-orders at Sansaire.com!

*OK, “successfully funded” is a bit of an understatement.  We hit our $100,000 funding goal in the first 13 hours, 4 minues of the campaign.  In 30 days, we raised $823,0033 and became the most-funded food project in Kickstarter history. We are absolutely blown away by the level of support and enthusiasm from our 4084 Kickstarter backers, as well as our family and friends who helped spread the word about the project.  Since I like charts and graphs, check out this beauty.  That dotted blue line at the bottom was the funding goal.

dailychart
The night before the Kickstarter campaign, I was a nervous mess. I was only cautiously optimistic that we’d hit our funding goal within 30 days.  When I did the math in my head, we had to sell just over 500 units, or about 17 per day.  That seemed achievable… maybe… as long as we could get the word out, and as long as I could coerce all of my friends to buy one.  But what if everyone hated it? What if we were criticized because there have already been other sous vide projects on Kickstarter? I had that same feeling as where you show up to school in your underwear in a dream.

The campaign launched at 5AM PST. I was up. By the time I checked the Kickstarter page we already had two backers. Phew, I thought – at least it’s not a shutout! I made coffee (the night before a Kickstarter is a long night), took a shower and checked the page again. This time, we had $4,000 in funding.  “Whoa, that’s awesome. But maybe we peaked early, and we’ll run out of interested people soon.”  I got dressed and said goodbye to my wife before heading to work.  “How’s the campaign going?” she asked.  I checked my phone. $11K.  That was pretty much the best morning ever.  I wore a stupid grin all day.

I left the office a little after 5PM to meet Lukas and Widad, the other Sansaire co-founders, at a coffee shop in Seattle. I made it just in time to watch us tick past the $100,000 mark.  It was a surreal moment!  We looked at each other.  “I guess we have to make sous vide machines now!” Nothing could make me happier!

Over the following weeks, we were fortunate to get some really great press.  We owe a tremendous thank you to Kenji at SeriousEats.com for writing an incredible piece that he posted the same morning as our Kickstarter campaign. If you aren’t already a religious reader of SeriousEats.com, you will be soon. Thank you, Kenji, for testing the Sansaire and giving our backers confidence that the machine works! Thank you, as well, to the awesome folks at Mashable, Tested, Cnet and LA Times who gave us some love during the campaign!  Finally, I want to thank all of the readers of this blog who have supported and encouraged the sous vide cooking movement. You guys rock.

Now that the Kickstarter campaign is over, we’re focused on building the Sansaire on schedule and with high-quality. We’re beyond thrilled to bring this project to life, and we can’t wait to deliver the Sansaire to all of our Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers.  Speaking of which…

The Sansaire is available for pre-order right now at Sansaire.com.  It’s still just $199, but act fast – due to the incredible demand, we’re likely to sell out of our first shipment soon.

Sansaire $199 Sous Vide Machine

07th August
2013
written by scott

I am very proud to announce the Sansaire sous vide immersion circulator.  It’s the only tool you need to cook sous vide, and it only costs $199. This morning, my team and I launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for the initial production run of the Sansaire, and we have 30 days to reach our goal of $100,000.

If you’re a reader of Seattle Food Geek, you know that it has been my dream to create a high-quality, low-cost sous vide machine for the last three years.  My $75 DIY Sous Vide Machine post is still the most popular article on this site, and is evidence of the growing audience for sous vide cooking. As rewarding as it’s been to help people build their own immersion circulators, there’s a much larger group of people who aren’t ready to pick up a soldering iron and don’t want to spend $400+ on a commercial device. The Sansaire is the result of three years of work designing, testing and constructing a sous vide machine that is reliable, good looking, and affordable. It’s an evolution of the original DIY device, engineered by my team here in Seattle, and [we hope] poised to make sous vide more accessible than ever!

Funding this project on Kickstarter will give us the money we need to pay for the initial production run, and will give you an opportunity to be one of the first to own the device!  So, if you’ve enjoyed reading Seattle Food Geek in the past, if you’ve built your own DIY circulator, or if you’ve always wanted to try sous vide but were waiting for the right machine, please consider supporting our Kickstarter campaign by making a donation, or by helping us spread the word!!

 $199 on Kickstarter – Pre-order Now!

 

18th October
2012
written by scott

Just need the basics of sous vide?  This video, the second in the MDRN KTCHN series, breaks down the basics.  My go-to sous vide machine these days is the PolyScience Sous Vide Professional CREATIVE series, but if you’d prefer to save a little money and don’t mind the elbow grease, join the 1,000+ folks who have built their own sous vide machines from my $75 DIY instructions.

22nd December
2011
written by scott

goose
My favorite part of any bird is the dark meat – besides the skin, dark meat is the only real “flavor country” found in foul.  I’m particularly fond of duck because both the leg and breast meat is darker than you’ll find in a chicken or a turkey.  But ducks are relatively small and, shall we say, flat-chested.  A goose, however, is a much more curvaceous creature and offers quite a lot to love.  Like ducks, geese fly quite a lot.  And just like in any other animal (that I’m aware of), the more a muscle needs to work, the darker its meat will be.  So, geese end up being an animal composed entirely of dark meat!

But, if the idea of roasting a goose gives you anxious visions of forgotten kitchen timers and smoking ovens, let me assure you that there’s a better way.  Just like a turkey or a duck or a chicken, a goose is a great candidate for sous vide cooking.  I started with a whole goose, which I carved into four pieces: two breasts and two legs.  I packed each piece in a vacuum bag with salt, aromatics and fat, then cooked sous vide.  Just before serving, I shallow-fried each of the pieces to brown and crisp the skin.  In reality, I treated the goose just like I was cooking duck confit, sous vide style.  This was phenomenally easy, risk-free and wonderfully delicious.

Many thanks to Whole Foods for providing a complimentary whole goose for the development of this recipe.

Shopping list:

  • 1 whole goose, thawed
  • 40g kosher salt
  • 35g juniper berries
  • 65g light brown sugar
  • 10g fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1g cinnamon stick, microplaned (or ground cinnamon)
  • 150g rendered duck fat
  • Canola oil, for frying
  1. Rinse the goose thoroughly and remove the neck from the interior of the body.  Reserve the neck for another use.
  2. Remove the legs and thighs.  With the goose breast-side-up, grab the end of the drumstick and pull the leg outward from the body of the goose.  Cut through the skin underneath the rib cage as you pull the leg away.  Flip the goose over and fold the leg away from the body until the “hip” joint is visible.  Run your knife through the hip joint to free the leg and thigh.  Trim away excess fat and skin, leaving enough to cover the meat.  Repeat for the other leg.
  3. Remove the breasts by making an incision through the skin of the breastbone.  Allow your knife to follow the contour of the rub cage on one side and peel the breast away as you cut .  Trim away excess fat and skin.  You may save the fat, carcass and wings for another use, such as a pressure-cooked goose stock.
  4. Combine the salt, juniper berries, brown sugar, rosemary and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Mix to combine, gently crushing the aromatics to release their oils.  Toss each goose piece in the salt mixture until well-coated.
  5. Divide the duck fat among four vacuum bags (or two, one for breasts, one for legs).  Place the goose pieces in their respective bags and toss in any juniper berries and rosemary that may have been left behind.  Vacuum seal on high.  Refrigerate overnight.
  6. Preheat a sous vide bath to 62C.  Add the goose legs and cook for 18 hours.  If you’re not serving the goose immediately, remove the bag and chill in an ice bath.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Preheat a sous vide bath to 54C.  Add the goose breasts and cook for 6 hours.  If you’re not serving the goose immediately, remove the bag and chill in an ice bath. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Note: If you have two sous vide baths, you can perform the previous two steps simultaneously. If you only have one sous vide bath and don’t want to wait quite as long, you can turn the temperature down from 62C to 54C after 12 hours and add the breasts to the same bath as the legs. The legs won’t turn out quite as flaky, but they’ll still be delicious.
  8. Heat a large pot of canola oil 1/2” deep to 400F.  Remove the goose from the vacuum bags and wipe off any juniper berries or rosemary that may be clinging to the skin.  The meat will be wet from the duck fat, but that’s OK for frying.
  9. Working one piece at a time, fry the legs skin-side-down for about 1 minute or until golden brown.  Flip and fry for an additional minute skin-side-up.
  10. Fry the breasts, skin-side-down only, for about 1 minute or until the skin is golden brown.
  11. Slice as desired and serve immediately.

As you’ll notice in the picture above, geese have a hefty layer of fat underneath their skin.  This helps them stay buoyant and warm, and I personally enjoy eating the fatty exterior, which is made soft and delectable by the long cooking time.  However, if you want to reduce the fat layer and you have a little extra time on your hands, before step 4, remove the skin from each piece of goose.  Using the back of your knife, scrape the fat away from the underside of the skin.  Dust the skin with Activa RM (transglutaminase; meat glue) and place it back on the meat before vacuum sealing.  It’s a little trick I learned from Modernist Cuisine, which has quite a lot to say about cooking tough and tender meat sous vide.

27th October
2011
written by scott

brioche with pea butter and sv egg 690

We had friends over for brunch last weekend, so I pulled out an old standby: brioche with a 64°C egg, maple syrup, pancetta and pea butter.  It’s my version of French toast, you know, because of the toast part.  I’m not trying to sound snooty when I say this is “as simple as can be” because you do need a sous vide machine and a centrifuge to make it.  However, provided you have those tools, the recipe brain-dead easy.  When I was growing up, we used to go for brunch at a diner that made “sweet pea guacamole” served alongside a Tex-Mex omelet.  I loved the notion of having peas with breakfast, and once I discovered centrifuged pea butter, that was even more reason to work it into the dish.  I’m sure there’s a “green eggs and ham” permutation of these ingredients, too; if you find it, please share.

Total kitchen time: 10 minutes + 3 hours centrifuge time + 1 hour sous vide time
Makes: 4 servings

  1. Make pea butter by blending 4lbs of thawed peas until smooth, then centrifuging at 1500 RPMs for 2-3 hours. 
  2. Cook 4 eggs sous vide at 64°C for one hour.
  3. Meanwhile. cut 4 slices of brioche, about 1” thick.  Toast on a flat-top grill with copious amounts of melted butter.
  4. Fry up 8-12 slices of pancetta.  Pro tip: frying pancetta in a waffle cone maker keeps it from curling up.

To assemble, top the toasted brioche with an egg. Pour over pea butter and warmed maple syrup.  Finish with slices of fried pancetta. 

[Thanks to the Estevez family and my wife Rachel for helping me make a mess in the photo above]

01st April
2011
written by scott

easyvide

As you might know, I’ve been working on sous vide machine designs for a little over a year now.  I’m happy to announce today that I’ve finally got a model ready for sale: the Easy-Vide Sous Vide Water Oven for Kids! 

I discovered that children are currently the biggest untapped market for kitchen technology, and in order to make sous vide cooking pervasive in the future, we need to educate the next generation of chefs and home cooks.  I created the Easy-Vide to be the simplest, easiest and most fun way to teach kids about sous vide.

Features:

  • Screw in the light bulb (included), fill the basin with water, and pug in the power cord. 
  • No pesky temperature settings to remember.  The water bath is heated by the light bulb – it’s that simple!
  • Works for all types of foods including steak, chicken, fish, and even vegetables!
  • Kids will love searing their favorite snacks with the included Mini Blowtorch

I’m still in negotiations with several retailers, so check back soon for pricing and availability.  The Easy-Vide promises to be the must-have toy for the aspiring cook in your family!

22nd December
2010
written by scott

sous vide tempered chocolate
I’m not much of a chocolatier, but I’ve watched my dad temper chocolate and make truffles a dozen times or so.  The transformation that takes place during the tempering process is fascinating, and it only becomes more curious with my first attempt to temper using sous vide.  Notice the pattern of dark, shiny dots and lines?  I didn’t put it there.

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28th June
2010
written by scott

sous vide flank steak tacos
Sous vide strikes again! This time, we’re exploiting science for perfectly medium-rare, ultra-tender flank steak.  And, since we’re throwing ethnic authenticity to the wind, why be predictable with our condiments?  Salsa and Monterey Jack are out, red onion compote and chèvre (goat’s cheese) are in.  If you’re not a sous vider (yet), you can cook your flank steak however you like: broiled, grilled, smoked, or fried.

Makes: 4 Tacos Scientificos
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes (+12 hours cooking time)
Special equipment: Vacuum sealer, sous vide water oven

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1 tsp. Mexican seasoning blend
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 four tortillas
  • 1 cup crumbled goat’s cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 bunch cilantro

  1. Pat the steak dry and coat all sides with Mexican seasoning blend and lime juice.  Vacuum seal the steak in a bag large enough that the meat lays flat (but still fits in your water oven).  Cut the meat into two pieces and seal separately, if needed.  (If you’re not cooking your steak sous vide, place it in a zip-top bag or a covered shallow dish and let it marinate overnight). Note: although it might be tempting to add aromatics like garlic to the marinade, don’t! Your kitchen will smell like ass by the time the meat is done.
  2. Set your sous vide water oven to 56°C.  Add the vacuum sealed steak, making sure the meat stays submerged.  Cook for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 48 hours.  The picture above shows the meat after cooking for 12 hours, which was perfectly tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat.  Add the red onion and reduce the heat to low.  Let the onion sweat 5 minutes, until it is slightly translucent, but not browned.  Add the dark brown sugar, sherry vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and making sure the mixture doesn’t boil or burn. 
  4. Remove the bag from the water bath and let the meat rest, still in the bag, for 10 minutes before searing.  Remove the meat from the bag and pat dry on all sides.  Sear with a blow torch, under the broiler, or in a smoking-hot pan.
  5. Slice the meat perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers, and on a sharp bias. 
  6. Assemble the tacos: tortilla, sour cream, steak, cheese, onion compote, cilantro.  Enjoy!

Cooking the steak sous vide rather than just grilling it may sound like a pain in the ass since you have to plan 12 hours ahead.  However, the hardest part of cooking flank steak is getting your timing right. Leave it on the grill 1 minute too long and it’s overcooked and tough; take it off too early and it’s raw.  And, if you’re entertaining company, you may be more focused on your margarita than your steak.  Cooking your meat sous vide lets you be laissez-faire with your timing – sometimes I even sear my steak before company arrives and return it to the water bath to keep it warm until we’re ready to eat.

01st June
2010
written by scott

DSC_0071

It’s been a little while since I checked in, but I thought I’d give a quick update.  I’m hard at work getting production versions of my sous vide heating immersion circulators ready for sale.  The picture above is of my current prototype, based largely off of the DIY design I published a few months ago.  As you can see, I’ve got a custom-made heating coil and a slightly prettier enclosure.  The controller I’ve selected is also far more user-friendly, and I’ve upgraded other components after months of intense testing (and a handful of literal meltdowns). 

Anyhow, I’m still working as hard as I can to bring you all a sub-$200 sous vide heating immersion circulator accurate to .1C!  If you’d like to be on the email list when the first units are ready for sale, please leave a comment below.

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19th April
2010
written by scott

svs-ModernRackFinal-393

I love sous vide cooking.  Those of you who have discovered it know what I’m talking about – nothing short of a new frontier of culinary technique, and one of the first pure intersections of science and cuisine.  However, if you aren’t willing to drop $1000+ (or you don’t have a soldering iron and some patience) it used to be the case that you were excluded from the inner circle of sous vide wizardry.  Professional thermal immersion circulators are extremely expensive and, due to their scientific design aesthetic, aren’t very likely to show up on the shelves of Sur La Table anytime soon.  But, for the first time, a home cook willing to spend $450 (the price of a top-of-the-line stand mixer + accessories, for example) can experience for themselves the eye-opening, mouth-watering, religious revelation of their first sous vide steak.

I’ve blathered on for the last handful of posts about how great sous vide is, and to a certain extent, I’ve become obsessed with the method.  So, you can imagine my delight when the nice people at SousVide Supreme offered to let me test drive a unit for two weeks (there’s my disclosure).  When the unit arrived, I anxiously brought the box inside and began unpacking.  The first thing that struck me?  “Damn, this thing is big!”  So big, in fact, that there was no hope of ever storing a unit like this anywhere in my kitchen.  For the entire two week trial run, it sat on top of my stove, next to my stockpot that’s also too big to find a home.  If you can’t tell from the picture above, the unit is about the size of a large bread machine.  And although it’s handsome enough for what it does, I’m not sure I would acquiesce to the idea of making this behemoth stainless brick an objec d’art atop my precious counter space.  That said, I’ve found myself cooking nearly everything sous vide recently, so perhaps it wouldn’t be such an inconvenience to have the machine on display all the time.

Once I got over the size issue (like a blind date with a girl who has “a great personality”), it was time to put this unit through its paces.  By now, I had already been cooking with my DIY sous vide machine for a few weeks, so I had some reasonable expectations of heating time, temperature evenness (temperature measured at different spots in the basin) and temperature fluctuation (how well the target temperature holds over time).  I filled the unit’s basin with hot water from my kitchen faucet to speed up the pre-heating time.  If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, you might notice that the water-filled unit is quite heavy.  The unit features well-placed inset handles to help with carrying, but even so, it’s a precarious beast when full – especially when full of hot water!  It would be great to see a drain valve in version 2, since it’s very difficult to negotiate 30 lbs of 120° water up and into the kitchen sink without spilling everywhere.

The SousVide Supreme comes with a wire food rack (shown in the picture above) which actually does a great job of keeping your food in place and allowing ample circulation.  Unfortunately, since the unit doesn’t have circulator of any kind, you’ve gotta rely on convection currents to distribute heat evenly through the basin.  I was initially quite concerned that this would result in hot and cold spots (which it does) but the temperature differences were reasonably small – within .5°F as measured with a laser thermometer.

Heating from faucet temperature (about 110°F) to cooking temperature (about 144°F) took about half an hour – a time scale consistent with my DIY machine, and certainly reasonable for anyone who’s ever waited for an oven to preheat.  However, I was quite surprised to see the temperature fluctuations of the machine over time.  The video below shows 1 hour of cooking time condensed into 2.5 minutes.  The target temperature remained fixed at 144°F, and there were no external factors influencing the temperature (eg. I never removed the lid, opened a window, turned on the stove – in fact, I wasn’t even home!).  The temperature varies between 142.1°F and 144.5°F, and if you watch closely, you’ll notice that this variation happens in a very cyclical manner.  In other words, the machine is programmed to allow a zone of acceptable temperature that is at least 2.4°F wide.

 

1-hour time lapse of SousVide Supreme temperature stability

These temperature fluctuations weren’t noticeable on beef short ribs or potatoes, where there is a wider zone of doneness.  However, if you’re finicky about your steak, and especially if you’re aiming for the Goldilocks zone on eggs, those temperature swings may make a difference.  As you can see in this invaluable guide to sous vide cooking there’s a substantive difference between eggs cooked at 146°F and 148°F.

All in all, however, the SousVide Supreme did a fine job cooking.  Plus, I felt completely comfortable leaving the unit unattended to run overnight or while I was away at work.  The all-in-one design certainly is convenient, but the machine’s bulk means you’ll have to annex the dining room to find storage.  I’m delighted to see the SousVide Supreme bring sous vide cooking into home kitchens for the first time, and very excited at what the future may bring!

SousVide Supreme Holiday Promo: Save $106!

06th April
2010
written by scott

sous vide short ribs
Sous vide cooking works its magic on a lot of foods, but short ribs yield some of the most dramatic results I’ve seen.  In traditional recipes, the ribs (usually cut into short 2-3” chunks by the butcher) are braised for several hours.  Although the braising method adds great flavor and makes the meat extremely tender, the meat is also necessarily well-done.  But, thanks to our sous vide wizardry, we’re able to maintain a perfectly-pink medium rare and have our meat come out fork-tender.  Feel free to experiment with marinades in the bag, but know that some herbs, like thyme, will start to reek after 3 days in the bath.

Makes: 6-8 best-of-both-worlds short ribs
Total kitchen time: 72.5 hours (give or take)

Shopping list:

  • 6 lbs. short ribs (I used a 6 lb. uncut slab from my butcher, but you can use 6-8 pre-cut pieces)
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tbsp. coarse smoked salt (I prefer Alder wood smoked salt)

Special equipment: sous vide heating immersion circulator, vacuum sealer and (optional) blowtorch.

  1. Preheat a large water bath to 56C (133F).
  2. If using an uncut slab of short ribs, trim off any large areas of fat on both sides. 
  3. Coat all sides of the meat with salt and garlic cloves.  Place slab (or pre-cut short ribs) into a large vacuum seal bag.  If using pre-cut pieces, you may need to divide them between 2 bags, ensuring there is plenty of space between the ribs.  Seal the bag.
  4. Fully submerge your bags in the water bath and cook, turning the bags every 12-18 hours.  After 60 hours, increase the heat to 62.5C (144.5F) and cook an additional 12 hours.
  5. If using a blow torch: Pace a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan or jelly roll.  When ready to serve, remove the ribs from the bag and drain.
  6. If using a slab of ribs, turn the ribs bone-side-up and slice through the meat between the bones lengthwise to separate out each bone.  Cut the membrane running the length of the bone and slide the bone loose (it should give easily, with a little encouragement from your knife).  Trim any access fat surrounding where the bone used to be.  Cut the trimmed meat into portions.
  7. If using the blowtorch, place a cooling rack above a sheet pan or jelly roll pan.  Place each portion of ribs on the cooling rack, allowing plenty of space in between.  Pat the ribs dry with paper towels.  Using your torch, sear all sides for a few seconds, or until golden brown. 
  8. If you’re not using a blowtorch, give the ribs a quick fire under the broiler or in a little oil on a smoking-hot skillet to brown all sides as quickly as possible.
  9. Serve immediately.

After tasting these short ribs, I may never cook any type of ribs the same way again.  This summer, I plan to lightly smoke a rack of spare ribs, then cook them sous vide for a few days before finishing them back on the grill.  I expect pretty incredible results.

01st February
2010
written by scott

DSC_0041

I’ve recently been fascinated by the idea of sous vide cooking – a method of slowly cooking vacu-sealed foods in a precisely controlled water bath to achieve the optimal doneness.  Last year, Sur La Table started carrying the world’s first “home” sous vide cooker, the SousVide Supreme.  This was fantastic, since commercial sous vide cooking machines cost north of $2000.  However, the home model (priced at $450) is still a steep investment for something that essentially just keeps water warm.  I was determined that I could build a better device on-the-cheap.

Behold, the $75 DIY sous vide heating immersion circulator!  By scrapping together parts that are readily available on eBay and Amazon, I was able to build a self-contained device that heats and circulates water while maintaining a temperature accurate to .1 degree Celsius (yes, point one degrees!).  And unlike the SousVide Supreme, my device can be mounted onto any container (up to a reasonable size, perhaps 15 gallons) allowing you more room to cook, if needed.

To build your own device, you’ll need some basic soldering skills, the list of stuff below, about 6 hours of free time (plus time for glue to dry) and the can-do attitude of a geek who doesn’t want to pay $450 for a water heater.  Click the “more” link for complete step-by-step instructions.

If these instructions have helped you build you own machine, I hope you’ll consider donating.  My goal is to mass-produce the world’s first sous vide heating immersion circulator for under $100, and every donation helps!

Update: Along with my business partners, I’ve finally commercialized a home sous vide machine!  It’s called the Sansaire, and it’s available for pre-order now!
Sansaire $199 Sous Vide Machine

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