The Doctor’s Bag: Sous Vide or Not Sous Vide. That is the Question
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“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”-Unknown
In this fast-paced, fast food world, it is quite easy for an individual to succumb to temptation and introduce all sorts of chemicals, saturated fats, and toxins into his or her body.
I definitely get it. I’m a physician, not a culinary chef. After a long day’s work I don’t have the time or energy to whip up a 5 star meal.
I make enough money that going out to eat constantly doesn’t really have any impact whatsoever on my wallet, so why wouldn’t I just do that instead?
What I soon came to realize though was that this line of thinking had a much larger impact on my waistline.
Freshly divorced and rapidly approaching 40, I soon tipped the scales at over 45 pounds my ideal weight.
I was feeding my body junk food and as a result my body felt like junk.
“Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one.”- Astrid Alauda
As part of my rebirth I wanted a lifestyle transformation, not just a financial one. Targeting my dietary habits, as well as initiating an exercise program, was a priority.
Food was, and still remains, important to me. I definitely consider myself a “foodie” and I did not want to give up the tastes and flavors I had grown accustomed to when dining out.
I realized that healthy eating really meant cooking at home. That is the only way I could monitor exactly what was going into my body.
As previously mentioned, I am not trained as a chef but I still wanted restaurant quality food, so what options were there for me?
Enter sous vide.
For those not familiar, sous vide is a French term which means, “under vacuum.” However, this term is a little bit of a misnomer as you can certainly cook using a sous vide method without requiring the use of a food vacuum.
The main component, the sous vide machine, allows one to create a precise water bath temperature (to the tenth of a degree desired) and maintain that temperature throughout the cooking process.
It is this precision that allows anyone to create amazing dishes with little preparation.
To illustrate a point:
A medium rare steak (which to be honest is the only way a steak should be prepared), requires an internal temperature range of 130-135 degrees F.
Using traditional cooking methods such as on a grill or cast iron pan, exposes the meat to much higher temperatures (450+ degrees). Because of this, there is a very precise time window (often seconds) in which a steak must come off the cooking surface or it will rapidly become overdone.
With sous vide you place the steak in a resealable bag (Ziploc or Foodsaver vacuum bag) and immerse it in a water bath at 130-135 degrees. The food can thus never overcook because it can only equilibrate to the surrounding water temperature.
There is a trade-off, however, which is the actual cooking time. For food safety reasons the steak has to be exposed to this temperature for at least 45 min. The window for cooking, however, is also much longer (can cook for up to 4 hours at this temperature with no detrimental effects).
Because of the sous vide method of cooking, the meat does not have a nice sear like in restaurants which is also essential for flavor, however this can be accomplished by using a cooking torch or doing a quick sear on a skillet without risk of overcooking.
Sous vide also allows you to cook less desirable/less expensive cuts of meat (such as short ribs) and make them fall of the bone tender using longer cooking times (48-72 hours). As there is no need to monitor the process, you can just set it and forget it.
I have cooked amazing salmon, scallops, shrimp, steak, even poached eggs and sous vide egg bites (like Starbucks) with absolutely minimal effort.
Friends and family I have cooked for have commented how great it tastes (my girlfriend actually commented that I have spoiled seafood restaurants for her because my salmon is much better (I will share my recipe below)). I know of at least 5 people who subsequently went on to buy a sous vide set up of their own.
Sous vide is now my main staple of cooking that allows me to cook healthy delicious meals.
I have a relatively inexpensive setup that anyone can duplicate by following this checklist (contains affiliate links):
- Sous vide machine: Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Optional but highly recommended:
- Food vacuum sealer (essential for the longer cooking recipes (> 8 hrs (otherwise Ziploc can be substituted for shorter cooking times): FoodSaver FM24350ECR Vacuum Sealing System
- Large container (sous vide can be attached to any medium/large pot, however this particular larger container is great for cooking a lot more at once): Camwear Polycarbonate Square Food Storage container, 12 Quart
- Lid (recommended for longer cooking times to prevent evaporation (do need to cut out opening for sous vide machine to go through): Cambro SFC12SCPP190 Seal Cover
- Food torch setup (a flamboyant way to impress guests as you sear/crisp food; A+++ for food presentation):
- Bernzomatic TS8000 – High Intensity Trigger Start Torch
- Searzall Torch Attachment
- 16 oz Coleman Propane Camping Gas canister (can get at Walmart)
- Ateco 613 Revolving Cake Decorating Stand
- Allows you to place food on it and rotate while searing
And that is pretty much everything in my setup. There are many sous vide recipes/cookbooks out there so finding meals to cook should be no problem.
Not only has cooking home with sous vide been healthier, it is also far less expensive than dining out and truly does make restaurant quality meals. For those cooking on a budget, it makes the cheaper cuts of meat taste amazing and tender, just requiring extended cooking times.
And by the way since I have started this lifestyle transformation, I have lost those 45 pounds and kept them off for over 3 years.
I will leave you with my favorite salmon preparation:
1) Salmon filet (preferably with skin on)
(Brine salmon filets night before (Brine solution: 1000g water, 50g Salt, 40g Sugar)
- Bring water bath temperature with Sous Vide to 115 degrees
- Take Ziploc bag and place salmon filet inside
- Take tablespoon of magic seasoning and put in bag
- Shake bag to coat filet
- Slowly submerge Ziploc bag into water leaving an opening to let all air out. Then completely seal bag
- Cook at 115 degrees for 25 min
- Take filet out of bag. Pat dry with paper towel. Spray olive oil on skin side with skin side up on rotating cake table
- Take torch and sear skin till completely crispy (individual taste, but I like mine absolutely blackened/burnt)
- Enjoy the best salmon you have ever had.
That really is it. I told you I’m not a chef and you don’t need to be either to enjoy a salmon that will likely be better than any you have tasted in any seafood restaurant (and trust me I eat at a lot of them).
Please comment below if you do give sous vide a chance and let me know your thoughts.
Here’s to a healthy life.
Curious to see what other items are in my doctor’s bag?
Just open the bag and peer inside, you may find something of use.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN