Friday, April 02, 2010

Sous-vide Steak

The trouble with home cooked steak is that you cannot get the meat cooked at the right level: usually it is uncooked or overcooked it. Getting the steak to be cooked at the right level for me is like winning lottery: lot of consolation prizes and none for the big ones. Reading various food blogs, I stumbled across an article that explains how to cook a prefect steak like Michelin chef easily. This article explains a rather peculiar method called "sous-vide" (or "under vaccum"). This requires the steak to be vacuum-packed and soaked in a water at certain temperature over a period of time. Whether it works or not? Well, there is only one way to find out...

Since I have neither a vacuum pack machine nor a sous-vide machine, I have to make do with zip-lock steam bag, a big pot and a thermometer:

oh ya, I marinated the rump steak with garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and a bit of lemon zest over night in the zip-lock steam bag. Sous-vide is not magic. It will not make the steak tasty without marinate.

The most tricky part of the sous-vide business is to maintain the water temperature. For medium-rare steak, it requires the water temperature to be at 60 degree celsius. After several trials, I noticed that big volume of water will make the temperature goes up/down slower. This allows you to control the temperature better especially you are trying to figure out what stove setting you will require. If the water gets too hot, just pour in some cold water. This brings down the temperature, and you might want to turn the stove setting a bit lower. Once you get the right stove setting + water volume, you might want to record the setting down (unless you want to spend your time tweaking it for the next time).

Depending on the size of the steak, the minimum cooking time will vary. For one and half inch steak, it will take at least 1 hour for it to cook thoroughly. Since it is constant temperature, I can always leave it longer if I wanted to. This will give me enough time to prepare elaborate side dishes to go along with the steak.

Once it is ready, take it out from the pot and heat up a heavy-bottom pan with a bit of olive oil. Pan fry the steak till the meat is browned from the outside (This should not take more than 1 minute for both sides, if the pan is very hot.). Here is how it looks like:

Sous-vide steak, mashed potato with fried and fresh leek, and sauté brussels sprouts with smoked bacon :)

Here is how the meat looks like:

I think I hit the jackpot for this one. Every part of the steak is medium-rare. Not even a single part of it was undercooked or overcooked. The meat was tender and succulent. The best part of it, no sauce was needed because it was just perfect! It is definitely the best steak I have ever eaten at home.

This is the article that inspires me to do so: How to sous vide steak

There is a health and safety requirement for sous-vide (undercooked meat will promote dangerous bacteria growth). Please refer to this before you attempt to do anything: Practical guide to sous vide.

If you have some money to spend, you can buy this home edition sous-vide machine:Sous vide supreme. Only 450 USD :)


Monday, March 15, 2010

Project Eden - one year

It has been a year since the last post for Project Eden. Many things have happened in the one year. I will keep it short and leave you guys with all the exciting updates...

Throughout last year summer, the chili plants produced so many chilies that I could not finish by myself. It was like 4-5 ready-to-eat every day! I ended up giving the surplus to my colleagues. Words spread through the office, and I was known as "chili" man in the office.

Well, good thing never lasts. Remember the "growing" concern from the management? It seems that chili planting is not something that an IT guy should do in the office, and they claimed that the chili plants attracted some flies to the office vicinity. I did not spot any, but the management claimed they had. Probably the fly looks like this:

or this:

I guess it was latter that sealed the fate of the chili plants: Public urination does not exactly fit with the company's image :) and the plants had to go... It was heart wreaking moment, giving all my plants away to people as I did not have any place to keep them. Basically, 4-5 months of growing was down the drain.

Anyway, I managed to moved the remaining to my colleague's place. He has an abandoned green house in the backyard. It sounded ideal initially, but it was lack of sunlight that those plants need. Well, I guess it was better than leaving them in the trash.

Since then, the plants were not doing very good in the new environment. They were not bearing the same amount of fruits as before. When autumn came, all plants were almost dead. It worsen when we got one of the coldest winter in UK last year. These were the last crop of the chili in late summer:

At this point, you might think that I probably gave up on the chili growing idea. I would have if I was alone, but this time I have several "partners" in crime :) I guess I got them hooked with the chili that they could not live without it (the bad quality office canteen food might help the cause; chili just makes it better). This time, we come prepared... and the management will not know what is coming :)


Monday, March 08, 2010

Caffeine Curve

This picture pretty sums up what I feel about coffee every day :)

Nirwana is achieved after 6th cups of coffee :)

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To eat or not to eat?

I am sure everyone of us has dropped food to the floor before. This workflow might able to help you to sort out the dilemma of eating it or not:

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

20 things worth knowing about beer

Stumbled upon this site and the author did a very good job to make beer so informative that I am compelled to share it with the rest of you guys. A sneaky peak of what you about to see:

The rest is over here: To the site


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bacon Pasta

Bacon is one of the favourite things I love to cook with. It just auto-magically makes anything taste good. Bacon sandwich, bacon salad, roast chicken with bacon, and the list goes on... Here is a simple dish that I like to cook if I am running short of time but still need a good tasty meal. All you need is lots of bacons (prefer smoked bacon), pasta, two cans of chopped tomatoes and few cloves of garlic.

First, heat up two pots. Fill one of them with salt water and let it to boil. Once the other pot is hot enough, dizzle a bit of olive oil and fry those bacons till they are slightly crispy:

Once the bacons are crispy, throw in some finely chopped garlics. Fry it for a while before you add in the chopped tomatoes. Let it simmers. By this time, the pot filled with salt water will be boiling. Add in the pasta:

Stir the pasta and sauce occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pot. Once the pasta is about right, drain them and put them aside. The sauce should be thicken by then, if not, just wait another 5-10 mins. Season the sauce with salt and pepper when it is ready. Mix the pasta into the sauce and serve it grated parmesan and a bit of oregano:

If do it right, all the prep + cooking will take around 30-35mins. Probably 4-5 servings depending on the amount of pasta you put in.