Ever. I promise.
Have you ever heard of the sous vide cooking technique? I bet you have. It’s this suuuuper fancy technique where meat is sealed in vacuum bags and kept at carefully maintained temperatures for long periods of time, breaking down collagen etc while allowing no meat to escape.
Actually, I shouldn’t pretend to understand the science behind it, because I don’t. Not remotely. All I know is, sous vide meats are the tenderest, most flavorful meats I have ever tasted in my life, and once I tried some at a gourmet restaurant I wanted more, right away.
Thing is, sous vide machines start at $429. START. I laughingly gave it up, but recently I’ve heard more and more people talking about how, because of the low temperatures, sous vide was attainable in the home kitchen. One professional chef even used a beer cooler to keep his hot water at the right temperature.
Turns out, all you need is a thermometer, hot water, freezer bags, and meat, and the most foo-la-la of gourmet cooking techniques can be yours. And without the dirty pans and spattered oil of a regularly cooked meal, too!
Salmon, because of its shorter cooking time, is a really ideal place to start.
First, salt & pepper your salmon to taste. Then mince some garlic, capers, and herbs and mush up in some olive oil to make a pasty kind of glop. Maybe a little lemon if you like that sort of thing, though I find the capers add enough of a tang. I bet a tiny bit of mustard would be good.
If you care about ratios, for 3 1/2 pounds salmon I used:
- 1/4 cup drained capers, minced with
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed, then tossed with
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano (or 2 tbsp dried), minced and then all mixed together with
- 1/4 cup good olive oil.
Stick your salmon in your freezer bags (whatever size, as long as it’s not folded over on itself) and reach in to smear it all over with the glop marinade.
Push as much air as possible out of the bags and reseal them. Cook it right away or marinate it for a while, whatever, just make sure the fish has come to room temperature before you immerse it in its water bath.
Heat your water to 122*F and slide in your bagged, waterproof salmon. Let it sit in there for at least 20 minutes. Check/adjust the heat as necessary and stir the water every so often.
The beauty of this technique is, as far as I understand, it’s nearly impossible to overcook your meat. So – sides not ready when the 20 minutes are up? No problem. Let the salmon bathe a little longer. Temperature got up to like 135? Not really a problem, for the home cook at least. You’re not going to ruin anything.
When you’re ready to serve, take out the bags and dry them before opening them and sliding the fish out onto your serving tray. Yeah, it doesn’t make for the most gorgeous presentation, but just wait until you take those first few bites. Oh my god. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It will be perfectly cooked all the way through and will melt like butter in your mouth.
And when you go to clean up the kitchen and there’s nothing but a cutting board, two plastic bags, and a (clean) pot of warm water? Just icing on the cake, baby.