Friday, January 14, 2011

Sous-Vide


From BoingBoing, a cool article about how to make yourself a DIY sous-vide waterbath for around $75. Normally, buying one of these puppies would cost a couple thousand.

Sous-vide is a method of cooking things in a water bath, sometimes called an immersion-circulator, in a plastic bag. It literally means "under-vacuum," a reference to the method of vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag before cooking via this method. It's become quite trendy as of late, especially with the molecular gastronomy set.

In the above post, they point out one great use of the sous-vide method: cooking an egg. Previously on this blog, we've discussed protein denaturation, even specifically as it relates to eggs. That is, the way that proteins unfold when exposed to high heat or another denaturing environment. Egg proteins denature and coagulate at fairly low temperatures, much lower than the boiling point of water, for instance. By boiling or frying an egg, we transfer a lot of heat to the egg very quickly and rapidly denature and coagulate the proteins. By instead using sous-vide, you slowly bring the egg proteins to the point at which they denature and coagulate. The temperature does not exceed this point, so the egg attains a texture unlike that of eggs cooked using any other method. Of course, this takes much longer than frying an egg - cooking anything sous-vide takes longer since the difference in temperature between the food and the surrouding cooking medium is lower. I'm sure Ferran Adria would say it's worth the wait.

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