Posts Tagged ‘sous vide’

Nordic food lab

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Tables set and decorated for the best lunch at a scientific conference ever!

I mentioned in my blog post on “The Emerging Science of Gastrophysics” symposium held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Copenhagen that we were treated with what was for me the best conference lunch ever. Later on the same day we even had a chance to visit the Nordic food lab, located on a house boat anchored up in Christianshavn, right next to restaurant noma. Here are some pictures and impressions from the lunch and the following visit to the Nordic food lab. (more…)

Help needed on “natural sous vide”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Eggs boiled in onsen (japanese: hotspring), Nagano, Japan (Photo: Miya.m. Permission: GFDL, cc-by-sa-2.1-jp).

In Japan eggs cooked in hot springs (onsen) are known as onsen tamago. I’ve also read that Māori women used boiling pools at Whakarewarewa to cook. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if many people with access to hot springs would have considered using them for cooking. But finding examples isn’t so easy, so now I need your help: Are you aware of other examples of “natural sous vide”? By this I mean cooking of food at temperature below 100 °C/212 °F without the use of a temperature controlled water bath. It could be in a hot spring, near volcanoes, in steam baths or even in saunas (in a previous post on eggs I mentioned Finnish sauna eggs and Korean Maekbanseok gyeran). Any help finding other examples would be greatly appreciated! I’m interested in modern-day examples as well as traditional practices.

Perfect egg yolks (part 2)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Egg cooked for 40 min at 63.0 °C. The pictures were taken within 6 seconds and are shown in the order they were taken.

My immersion circulator is working again! And the first thing I decided to do was to cook eggs at 63.0 °C for 40, 60, 75, 110 and 155 min and show you the results. If you read my last blog post on Perfect egg yolks or have stumbled across the paper Culinary Biophysics: on the Nature of the 6X°C Egg you may recognize that these times correspond to egg yolks with textures similar to sweetened condensed milk, mayonnaise, honey, cookie icing and Marmite respectively. I used the iso-viscosity graph from the paper mentioned to determine the cooking times as shown below. (more…)

TFP 2011: Sous vide master class (part 2)

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Sous vide fish should be cooked at several temperatures followed by stepwise cooling for the best texture

Bruno Goussault started the sous vide master class at The Flemish Primitives 2011 by arguing that precise temperature or right temperature cooking is a better term than low temperature cooking. It’s really about knowing at which temperature the desired change takes place (or even better: knowing which time-temperature combinations will yield the desired results – this is a topic I will come back to soon).

Recounting the early days of sous vide, Bruno Goussault explained how he was once asked about how to produce prepare tender meat from a though cut. He was aware of a science paper on a slow cooking technique from USA (anyone know which paper this was?). It utilized a water bath, but the water washed away the juices. To avoid this Bruno wrapped the meat in cling film. A roast beef cooked at 58 °C turned out tender with a nice pink color. Then a friend working with plastics suggested that he should look into polyethylene (PE) bags in combination with a sous vide machine (boil-in-bag had already been around for some time apparently). Interestingly Bruno mentioned that during a recent Bocuse d’Or competition in USA where Bruno trained the American team, they replaced the plastic with a “skin” made from shrimps. Maybe we will see more “edible” skins used in sous vide in the future?

Bruno then went on to talk about the vacuuming process and how time/pressure profiles should be adjusted (more…)

Modernist Cuisine available for pre-order

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

When I wrote about Nathan Myhrvold’s book project in November he estimated the book to reach 1500 pages. But what originally started out as a 300-page book on sous vide has now, with the help of a 20-person team, grown to a total of 2200 pages spanning five volumes! Need I say more? Finally the long wait is over: The Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is now available for pre-order at Amazon, and the expected release date is December 1st. One could almost be afraid that there will not be anything more to blog about here at Khymos as everything will be covered in Modernist Cuisine :) (but I know better – every previous talk about “end of science” has turned out to be more a starting point than a final destination)

Ferran Adrià says that “This book will change the way we understand the kitchen”, and according to Heston Blumenthal it’s “A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastronomy”. And if that’s not enough – take a look at this 26 minute video which guides you through the almost endless amount of high-tech equipment Nathan Myhrvold and his team have available. Oh boy, oh boy!

Other links:
The lecture “Cooking in Silico: Understanding heat transfer in the modern kitchen” by Nathan Myhrvold and Chris Young is available for streaming/download from University of Washington.

Nathan Myhrvold in NYT – news on upcoming book

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Nathan Myhrvold giving a TED talk about some of his many interest (click image to see video). Photo by Neil Hunt from (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Nathan Myhrvold giving a TED talk about some of his many interest (click image to see video). Photo by Neil Hunt from (CC BY-NC 2.0).

I usually don’t post about newspaper articles, but Jack Lang sent out an email on the molegular gastronomy maillinglist today about an article in New York Times: “After Microsoft, Bringing a High-Tech Eye to Professional Kitchens” featuring Nathan Myhrvold. I thought this might be of interest to my readers as well.

If you’ve played around with sous vide cooking there’s a good chance that you’ve visited the massive eGullet thread on sous vide (currently spanning more than 100 pages and 3000 posts), and in that case you’ll be familiar with Nathan’s many well informed posts on sous vide. There have been rumours about an upcoming book for quite some time, and things are getting more and more exciting. The last I heard was that he had a team of 5 people working on a book about sous-vide. This has now increased to a team of 15 people, including 5 professional chefs, a photographer, an art director, writers and editors. And there’s more:

“The project has grown in size and scope. Originally planned as a 300-page discussion of sous vide, an increasingly popular restaurant technique of cooking food in vacuum-sealed bags in warm water baths, the book has swelled to 1,500 pages that will also cover microbiology, food safety, the physics of heat transfer on the stove and in the oven, formulas for turning fruit and vegetable juices into gels, and more.”

Wow! Let’s hope that Nathan’s “one year left” statement is actually true this time. I’m really looking forward to see this book!

Towards the perfect soft boiled egg

Thursday, April 9th, 2009


Many cookbooks suggest the following for boiling eggs: 3-6 min for a soft yolk, 6-8 min for a medium soft yolk and 8-10 min for a hard yolk. If you are satisfied with this, there is no need for you to continue reading. But if you’ve ever wondered whether the size of an egg has any impact on the cooking time you should read on. And if you search the ultimate soft boiled egg we share a common goal! From a scientific view point, a cooking time of approximately 3-8 minutes to obtain a soft yolk is not very precise. A number of important parameters remain unanswered: What size are the eggs? Are they taken from the fridge or are they room tempered? Are they put into cold or boiling water? And if using cold water – when should the timer be started? When the heat is turned on or when the water boils? And would the size of the pan, the amount of water and the power of the stove top matter?


A mathematician cooks sous vide

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Douglas Baldwin with two immersion circulators and a vacuum chamber sealer.

Since I got my immersion circulator in December I’ve discovered that there are two critical questions that always come up as I hold a piece of meat in my hands, ready to cook it sous vide: At what temperature should I cook this? And for how long? Despite the fact that two books were published on sous vide last fall it is the short yet comprehensive guide “A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking” by Douglas Baldwin that I’ve found most useful to answer these questions. Those who have followed the eGullet thread on sous vide cooking will probably recognize Douglas Baldwin as one of the major contributors alongside Nathan Myhrvold. Out of curiosity and eager to learn more I therefore emailed Douglas and asked if he would be interested in doing an email interview.

ML: From your homepage I see that you are a PhD student in applied mathematics, how did you become interested in sous vide?

DB: I have always loved to cook. Before last January, though, I mainly cooked slow food. That is when I saw sous vide mentioned in one of Harold McGee’s NY Times articles. Wow. Cooking meat at its desired final core temperature is so obvious! As a mathematician, I kicked myself for never asking “if overcooked meat is bad, what temperature should the meat be cooked at?” A question which many mathematician would instantly answer, “just above the temperature you want it to end up at.”

Upcoming books on sous vide

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

A number of books related to molecular gastronomy and food science will appear this fall – I’ve previously mentioned the Fat Duck and Alinea cookbooks. But there is more, much more! This time I would like to draw the attention to two books on sous vide which are due to appear in October. And notice how nice the titles compliment each other – one is under pressure, the other one under vacuum!

Thomas Keller, known from the French Laundry, Bouchon and per se, has written the book “Under Pressure – Cooking Sous Vide” (the Under Pressure title was also used by NY Times in a 2005 feature article on sous vide). According to the publisher, Keller and his chefs de cuisine have blazed the trail to perfection through years of trial and error and they show the way in this collection of never-before-published recipes from his landmark restaurants.

The book “Sous-Vide Garen im Vakuum” (Sous vide cooking under vacuum) by Viktor Stampfer (known from the Ritz-Carlton in Dubai) has received much less attention, but certainly deserves to mentioned. The title is in German, but do not despair – it seems to be a bilingual edition with German and English text (can anyone confirm this?), but so far it’s only available for preorder from the German Amazon. According to the publisher the book gives an introduction to the equipment used including sealing devices and recommended temperatures for cooking together with numerous recipes.

These are not the first books to appear on sous vide – enthusiasts have probably obtained one or more of the books by Roca, Farber, Ghazala, Leadbetter, Choain/Noël and Calmejane/Barrier – but I’m quite sure that the new books will complement these very nicely, and they will certainly be more available as several of the others have unavailable for some time.

Perfect steak with DIY “sous vide” cooking

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

One important aspect of molecular gastronomy is the application of scientific principles to food preparation in a normal kitchen. This can very well be illustrated by discussing the preparation of a steak. The surface of the meat needs to be heated to > 120 °C (250 F) for the Maillard reaction to take place at a reasonable rate. This gives meat much of it’s characteristic aroma. The interior of the meat however should not be heated to more than 50-65 °C (120-150 F) for a rare or a medium rare appearance. If the heat is provided by a frying pan with a temperature typically in the range 120-160 °C (250-320 F), the different temperature required for the interior and the surface of the meat can actually be quite difficult to achieve. Bringing the meat to room temperature before cooking by taking it out of the fridge 1-2 hours in advance helps. Also, half way through the cooking it’s advisable to let the meat rest on a plate to allow the heat to diffuse into the interior and to let the surface cool down a little.

There is however an easier way to make a perfect steak! In restaurants the method has been around since the 70′s and is known under the name sous vide (fr. under vacuum, more info on history of sous vide in this NY Times article). The meat is packed in plastic bags, vacuumed and put into thermostated water baths. This equipment is not (yet?) found in the average kitchen. So here is a simple DIY procedure. You just use a normal plastic bag, leave the meat in the water bath for 30 min (or longer) and then quickly fry both sides to generate the products of the Maillard reaction. You do need a thermometer though to control the temperature of the water bath, preferably one with a dip in probe.

1. Put the meat (I used a rib eye steak for this experiment) in a thick plastic bag. Only put one or two pieces of meat in each plastic bag – this ensures a greater contact surface with the water.

meat in plastic bag

2. Add any spices you like (salt and pepper always works well – for the experiment shown I used curry paste, soy sauce and chili sauce in stead), press (or suck) out the air and close the plastic bag tightly by tying a knot (or use a zip-lock bag). You don’t want any water to enter the bag!

meat in plastic bag

3. Heat a pot of water to the desired temperature (or use hot tap water) and place the plastic bag with meat in the water. Cover with a lid (not shown in the picture) to reduce heat loss. If you use a large pot of water it’s easier to keep the temperature constant. Also, it’s easier to control the temperature with an induction or gas stove top than with an electric plate since there is no additional heating once you turn them off. Regarding the temperature, start with 60 °C (140 F) and experiment from there (or check this table at Wikipedia for doneness temperatures of meat). You should leave the meat in the water for at least 30 minutes – more for a thicker cut. But the good thing is you can leave it for much longer (several hours) provided the temperature does not come above 60 °C (or whatever temperature you decided on). A convenient way to keep the temperature constant for a long time is to put the pan with water into the oven and use the thermostat of the oven.

meat in plasticbag, water at 59 C

4. Heat a frying pan, add a fat of you choice, remove meat from plastic bag and brown both sides of the meat. Since you take the meat directly from the water bath it’s already at about 60 °C. Therefore the browning is very fast.


5. A temperature of 60 °C (140 F) gives the meat a pink interior. It’s succulent and juicy. The short frying gives it a nice browned crust and the chewing resistance is perfect. All in all a wonderful combination of taste, aroma, texture and mouth feel!


Note added January 2009:
Since I published this procedure the first time I’ve learnt a lot more about sous vide. The procedure above is a rather crude procedure, but it works. If the meat turns out grey you’ll need to turn the temperature somewhat down. If you’re interested in reading more about sous vide, the best discussion I know of which also includes important safety aspects is Douglas Baldwin’s “A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking”.

Related posts:
A mathematician cooks sous vide
Sous vide cooking joy
Santa came early this year
Upcoming books on sous vide