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 :)