As many of you know, I’m a fairly adventurous eater.  For the most part, my foolhardy foodie forays have been limited to menu items at whatever eatery I happen to be visiting.  Lately, however, I’ve been doing some experimenting in the kitchen.  What follows are a few of my most recent culinary conquests.

Akemi bought me a sous-vide machine for Christmas.  For those of you who don’t know, sous-vide is a cooking method in which food is placed into an vacuum-sealed pouch and then immersed in a temperature-controlled water bath and cooked for an extended period. It’s supposed to seal in the flavors and ensure precise cooking because, once a certain temperature is set, whatever is being cooked remains at said temperature until it is served.

First up, I tried my hand at steak –

I seasoned the steak with salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, and crushed garlic before sealing.

Apparently, one of the bonuses of cooking sous-vide is that it ensures that even the cheaper cuts turn out tender and juicy.  All the same, I elected to go with my favorite: the rib-eye.  I cooked at it at 130 degrees fahrenheit (about 54.5 celsius) for about an hour to yield a nice medium-rare.  One of the great things about preparing food sous-vide is that you don’t have to be overly concerned about the timing.  A few minutes in a pan or in the oven could mean the difference between rare and well-done but, in the sous-vide machine, the internal temperature remains constant.

The only drawback to this mode of cooking is that you miss that crusty sear only a pan can deliver – which is why, once my steak was done, I popped it onto a hot cast-iron skillet for 30 seconds on each side.

And voila!

The verdict?  Delicious.  A perfect steak.  The following weekend, I experimented with a variety of different cuts (t-bone, tenderloin, sirloin and, again, rib-eye).  The steaks were good but not as good as the first time around owing to the fact that I failed to give them a proper sear. And, for what it’s worth, while all the cuts delivered tenderness and taste, the rib-eye still came out on top.

The next day, I decided to try the same method with fish.  I picked up an opah filet at my local fishmonger.  It’s a fish similar to tuna in taste and texture.

Seasoned with salt, pepper, tarragon, and crushed garlic.

I seasoned, sealed the fish, then immersed it and cooked it at a temperature of 135 fahrenheit (about 57 celsius) for about 45 minutes. The results?

Served with a wasabi-lime sauce.

Good but slightly overcooked, a far cry from the stunning version I enjoyed a month earlier.  In that case, broiling yielded a perfect opah: mouth-meltingly mi-cuit on the inside and possessed of nice exterior crispiness.  I think that, next time, I’m going to go with a lower temperature and use the same searing method I used on the rib-eye.

Oh, and just so it’s not all protein, accompanying the fish was a salad:

Tomatoes, avocado, burrata cheese, olive oil, and espresso balsamic.

One of the things Akemi was particularly looking to preparing sous-vide was a simple egg.  She cooked it at 145.5 fahrenheit (about 63 celsius) for 70 minutes.  It yielded a yolk just a touch above soft-boiled.

Served atop rice, ahi tuna, and avocado.

If you like your eggs just a touch runny (which I do), they were perfect. I’ll never boil an egg on the stove again.  Provided I don’t mind waiting over an hour to eat.

I was on a sous-vide tear!  I decided to try my hand at lamb chops!  I followed the same routine, seasoning and sealing –

Salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, smoked serrano, and crushed garlic.

I immersed them at a temperature of 133 degrees fahrenheit (56 celsius) for about 30 minutes, then removed them from the water bath and gave them a quick sear –


The results?  Only the best lamb chops I’ve ever had!

In addition to giving the new sous-vide machine a work-out, Akemi and I also worked with the classic tried and true cooking methods as well…

Akemi’s soup uses a chicken and sesame base and includes nappa cabbage, hot peppers, radishes, mushrooms, and chive dumplings.
This version of Gordon Ramsay’s Curried Corn Soup uses Japanese sweet potatoes for body instead of simple potato.  Tasty.  And scorching!
Akemi was in the mood for skate wing but they rarely have it in stock so, on our way over, I told Akemi to think positive.  Well, there was positively no skate wing – but there was (even better!) fresh sea urchin.  Here, served simply – raw on rice and a sous-vide egg topped with fresh chives.

I had the guys over for football last weekend and I was going to spring the following little surprise on them, a tasty variation of pork rinds inspired by a Top Chef episode.  But I forgot.  So I ended up making it the next day for Akemi and I:

Crispy chicken skin
Crispy chicken skin!

I picked up a bag of chicken skin at my local butcher (you’d be amazed what they have hiding in the back), then rinsed and patted them dry before spreading them out on a parchment-lined baking tray and sprinkling them with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and smoked serrano powder.  I then lay down another layer of parchment and set a weighted second tray on top before putting them in the oven and baking them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  After that, I removed the top covering pan and parchment and let them broil under the high heat for another 5 minutes.

The results?  I hate to say it, but they were unbelievably good.  And highly addictive.  Forget the canapes.  Serve these at your next party!

27 thoughts on “January 16, 2013: Kitchen Adventures!

  1. Yum. You can sear steaks (and everything else) prior to cooking sous vide, as well, although I like your method better. 🙂 Must try the egg!

    As to what the butcher has hiding in the back, I’ve been trying to get some marrow bones for the dogs and all they have are the tiny ones that my dogs would choke on! Need new butcher. 🙂 Soft toys are out of the question with the Boxers (Gumbo only cares about food and sleep), they eat the stuffing and the we have problems, uh, hmmm, on the “other end”. Rawhide’s been banned here for years (again, choking). They’re bored with Nylabones and such, so I’m thinking I’ll cook up some big marrow bones, but nooooo. Kongs and hard rubber toys are toast in a day. Any ideas, anybody? 🙂

  2. The machine sounds great, but it seems like a lot more work. And I’ve never understood the appeal of runny eggs – they make me wanna gag! I boil my eggs – not for the recommended 7 minutes – but for at least 10, if not 15 minutes. I hate it when the yoke is still ‘wet’ inside. Of course, I also like my meat well done, so I think it’s a texture issue. If anything that was once alive is remotely moist, my tongue kinda freaks right out. 😛

    Oh, and guess what I had for dinner tonight? A salad, not unlike your own: Avocado, tomato, onion, kalamata olives, feta, and garlic, with lime juice, olive oil, and a sprinkling of Moroccan seasoning that was very cumin-y. Alas, I was all out of cilantro, but it was still delicious! 🙂


  3. I love me some chicken skin.

    Hey, I hit a 63 degree egg perfectly the first time I tried it–small pan, no thermometer. I’d have overshot the temp but I had to leave and turn off the stove so I put the lid on and came back to perfect ones. It met all the descriptions, anyway, it’s not like I had anyone who’s seen one before to poke at them.

    Then, I overshot the next couple batches I made with a large amount of water, smaller eggs in a pasta insert, and a candy thermometer–which isn’t a waste, it’s just boiled eggs. I’ll get the procedure figured out or eat a lot of boiled eggs. I see no downside.

    I’d love to try sous-vide cooking. I’ve been eating closer to the paleo diet and have been having fun figuring out different ways to cook things. I won’t afford that machine anytime soon, but I bet I can figure something out with that candy thermometer and my vacuum sealer bags.

  4. a lot of mouth watering food! I have to admit the crispy skin of both chicken and turkey is my fave part. Wonder if I could get turkey skin too? Hmmmm.

  5. The chicken skin has been a favorite in our family for years. My dad grew up with it in the 30’s and 40’s when my grandfather worked at as a butcher. We fry ours with salt, pepper and garlic.

  6. Mmmm. Crispy chicken skin. Speaking of football game food, my son and I are going to try our hand(s) at making a “bacon explosion” aka “bacon football”: sausage wrapped with bacon with crispy fried bacon in the middle for him to bring to a playoff game party this weekend. Should prove interesting.

  7. Liking the concept of the chicken skin. Shud be way better than pork rinds.
    now I’m hungry again.

  8. 54C?? For Meat? — Joe… that’s not “Cooking”. That’s working on your TAN in DUBAI in May! — If you ever come down with PARASITES, I will NOT be surprised!


  9. All your food pictures look awesome. But if you think I’m going to wait 70 minutes for an egg – you’re crazy. I’m like a dog, when it’s time to eat, it’s time to eat!

    Joe, guess what I got today! A Stargate Command Atlantis Base Teyla Emmagan security badge! Super cool! Please thank Mr. Woolsey for me! Wonder why he sent it to me via Canada? This is the first thing I have ever gotten from Canada. Maggie the crazy Beagle smelled the envelope, red paper, and badge for a long time. Either Bubba helped you mail it or a lot of weird people touched it along the way. And your in big trouble mister! The badge clearly says “Not Transferable”. Keep that up and you will lose your security rating! But thanks Joe. I will treasure it forever (and the Canadian envelope too). 😀

  10. Those all look incredible, wow. I’d love the slow-cooked egg too. Ramen eggs (the soft-boiled ones marinated in soy) are among my favorite foods.

    Do you use ‘regular’ paprika or a special variety? My sister served a dish with Basque paprika that was far hotter than the typical, and super tasty.

  11. I actually just learned about sous-vide tonight on Bobby Flay’s new show. You seemed to have much greater luck with it than his contestant did. Admittedly it seems handy for if you get a bit busy and forget/can’t get to your dinner, but I think I’ll leave my eggs either hard-boiled or scrambled; and done in far less time!

  12. is it sous vide home or a thermal immersion circulator? Also, you know what this means? get a fryer and you can make whole duck confit at home!

  13. Love the skin of a turkey or chicken. Have to find a local butchers and see if they keep it in stock or can put some aside just for me. Sadly there are very few butchers near me.

    But I like my meat well done and my eggs hard boiled but the things you can do in a sous-vide are pretty cool.

  14. mmm i love my eggs running for their lives! lol I love Chicken Skins as well. I know since i’ve been coming to your page, You’ve really opened me up to trieing alot of new and exciting foods I never would’ve tried otherwise. Thank You for that. I’ve never heard of a cooking device like that but i’m going to find out more now that i’ve seen those pics and your opinion. I could see you doing some type of food critic show Joe. lol I think you would do us all proud in that regard. Looks to me that the guys missed out on the Crispy Chicken Skins!

  15. So, Joe, when are you inviting all of us to your house for an awesome dinner? I’m ready…mustang is all fuelled up and ready to go for that 12 hour trip across the mountains.

  16. I gots me my badge, too. Thanks, Joe! It’s better than Ponytail‘s because it’s Jack O’Neil. The return address was the Pegasus Galaxy. I don’t know how Woolsey got there. It had to go through Canadian customs, naturally.

  17. No chicken skin here. Not that it isn’t tasty, hubby would love it… but my cholesterol is back under control.

    Hmmm, so… this is different from my FoodSaver boil in bag meals… how? I’m sorry, but I was chuckling over the 70 minute egg. I microwave mine when I’m in a hurry.

    Mmm, corn soup… got a recipe? I adore corn soup.

  18. Hi Joe. Akemi bought you a sous-vide? Nice present! I’m jealous.

    I’ve been wanting to try this myself. I was wondering what model you have? I have a vacuum bag sealer. I’ve noticed some of the heaters are a little pricy.

    I’ve always been a fan of cooking my roasts slow, 215 – 225, well seasoned. Usually I sear them first then slow cook them in the oven with water in separate pan to help keep it moist.

    I also prefer to put some caramelized mirepoux (caramelized with any roast trimmings) under the roast to lift it off the pan, then add a thin layer of broth or water. Not enough to touch the roast, preferably enough to cover as much mirepoux as possible. I separate the fat and oil from the broth in a separator.
    I dump the oil/fat in a deep pot and make a roux (white to tan, I don’t like the flavour of dark rouxs).

    Then I add the broth which winds up a delicious dark brown from the caramelized mirepoux, everything except the roast goes into a pot to make gravy or a sauce, including the mirepoux. I cook it as long as possible adding beef broth which I make and freeze in 750ml and 150ml amounts. If necessary I will add some broth concentrate for more flavour, salt, pepper, sometimes fresh rosemary at the start. I might thicken some more with cornstarch in broth. I like the texture of both flour and cornstarch better, its smoother. Then I strain it all through a cheesecloth.

    It’s a lot of work for a gravy/sauce but imho, it’s worth it. A great sauce can bum up the quality.

    One thing I’ve found difficult to do is get small roasts to cook properly at low temperatures in the oven. I generally cook larger ones and have people over. The small roasts pass the point of doneness very quickly even while cooking at low temperatures.

    I would never be brave enough to try hamburgers sous-vide. I have been watching for an electric grinder on used sites. I had one but broke it trying to grind some wheat berries. It was plastic. I would try it with home ground hamburgers.

    I also want to try making sausages. I love sausages but I’m not a big fan of store bought sausages, since I don’t know what’s in them. Maybe I should just close my eyes and think of England?

  19. Joe, all of that looks really good. On a day-to-day basis, I don’t think I’d have enough patience to cook sous-vide. Could definitely do it for company, though. Your mentioning searing meat reminds me of my great-grandmother’s cast-iron skillet, which we still have. After searing the meat, we leave it in the skillet, cover it with a paper grocery bag (yes, those still exist), and roast it in the oven at 350 F. for an hour or till done. The meat is so tender. Sorry! Bunny trail… 😀

    I really should know better than to look at blog pictures before meal time. Today it was lunch. 🙄

    Seventy minutes to do an egg? Jeepers, I can’t wait 70 seconds. Just made a microwave omelet for an egg sandwich. Pan-spray a saucer-sized plate, crack open 1 egg, scramble on plate, adding dill, or seasoning of choice. Nuke for 50-60 seconds, depending on size of egg. Add bread, mayo (or substitute), honey dijon, etc. Bohemian, yeah. 🙂

    Also like eggs sunny side up, scrambled, or eggs Benedict style. Never understood the random addition of an egg to an entree, though. My grandmother did fill an electric skillet with corned beef hash, and when it was halfway done, make 5 or 6 “wells” or holes in the hash, putting an egg in each. Cooked eggs & boeuf together. Looked at her old-fashioned meat-grinder recently. It was made in 1901, in Canada. Still in great shape; it’s very heavy.

    Avocados? Have been craving them a lot lately. Favorite way to eat those is just slice one in half lengthwise, add a shake of salt, and scoop it out of the shell with a spoon. Not. one. speck. wasted. Yum! …Just re-read that. 😮

    But in my defense, dogs love avocados, too:

  20. The sous-vide machine sounds very intriguing! The make ahead features would be nice. I could pack the bag and put it in the fridge for hubby or son to cook later. I probably wouldn’t boil eggs with it though. Right now, the money would be an issue for me. You’d have to buy bags regularly too. How did b>Akemi hear about this product?

    DP: Yep, the badges are super cool! I got McKay!!!!!!

    JeffW: I have nothing against the iPhone. A lot of my friends have them and love them. It does get annoying when they argue with Siri for 15-20 minutes at a time. It reminds me of working at the animal hospital and seeing a person come in and try to get their dogs to perform: “Sit, sit, sit,…..” . Except with Siri it goes like: “Where is the nearest Starbucks? Starbucks? STARBUCKS?” 🙄 My Nokia phone has a voice command but I just can’t bring myself to use it after witnessing Siri arguments. I’m not sure why but I’m always getting iPhone pocket dial calls. Is that something you’ve noticed with your iPhone?
    Prayers to your friend’s family.

    One big news of the weird, Mr. M:–ncaaf.html

  21. Cool on the sous-vide machine. That sounds perfect for me so I would not screw up a steak. But of all the steak cuts, the only one I will eat is filet mignon. I’m picky. And I read that as oprah fish at first because I did not have my reading glasses on. LOL.

    @DP and @Ponytail and @Tam: Cool swag! Take a picture for us.

    Question about Transporter The Series. Is it only showing in Canada? Because I saw it nowhere on the Cinemax schedule (or HBO either).

    I got a machine for Christmas as well–A Yonanas machine. You stick in frozen fruit and you can make sorbet or if you use a frozen banana in there, too, somehow it comes out looking like soft serve ice cream. You can also make ice cream but it is a pain in the butt because you have to make the mixture and then freeze it into an ice cube tray and then put the ice cubes in the machine to make soft-serve ice cream. So I’ll just stick with fruit. Last night I put 2 frozen bananas and 3/4 cup of frozen pineapple and fooled my mouth into thinking I was eating ice cream. Healthier for sure. And if you use something that is a bit bitter (like raspberries), you can put Stevia on it to make it a bit sweeter. Delicious. I love gadgets.

  22. @Joe:

    When things calm down, I’ll have to go looking for a sous-vide machine! Rib-eye is my favorite cut as well, and I had already been pan frying this cut, so that would be easy to manage (plus, both Barbara and I both like our steak medium-rare, so this method fits us to a tittle). Thanks for the send up on this!

    @Tam Dixon:

    Thanks for the prayers. The funeral service was this morning and I held it together (until my friend hugged me while crying, and then it was no use to keep it in). The family is handling this in a bittersweet fashion by remembering the good times and re-telling family stories, and in general, celebrating their son’s life. And Barb and I are helping with the meals, so at least we have that to occupy us.

  23. That cooking method sounds interesting, and the food looks great, but I’m not sure I could wait that long for stuff! I would be tempted to try it, though.

    @PBMom: I know Transporter has been on here in Canada on HBO Canada since Jan 4. I’ve seen the first couple of episodes – the first was, well, the less said the better I suppose, but the second one (one of Joe’s & Paul’s eps!) was much better (if a bit raunchy in places!)

  24. That all looks good, especially crispy chicken skin mmmm Are there desserts that can be done in the sous vide machine, something like a bread pudding maybe?

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