Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a demonstration of Breville’s latest kitchen gadget, the Sous Vide Supreme, by My Kitchen Rules judge and celebrity chef Pete Evans (yes, he of the activated almonds) at Sydney Seafood School. It was my first visit to the fish markets, where the school is based, and wow, what a fascinating experience! A great way to get the mind buzzing with fish and seafood recipe ideas!
So, sous vide. Had I heard of it? No. But then we all know I’m not much of a masterchef and my kitchen certainly doesn’t rule. Literally translated from the French, it means ‘under vacuum’. I’d heard of boil in the bag fish (takes me back to my student days, with mashed potatoes please) but this is something way more sophisticated and, Pete assures us, used by almost every top restaurant in the world. Who knew? When you order that perfectly done steak, the reason it’s so perfect is because it’s been cooked in a plastic bag in a temperature controlled bath of water, then finished off with a flash in the pan! Fascinating! Some would call it cheating. I’d call it smart.
“Chefs don’t want you to know that they cook all their steaks the day before, chill them into an ice bath then straight into the fridge. When you get the order you reheat it in the sous vide then sear it on the grill and it’s perfectly done, the same colour all the way through. Top chefs cook all their vegetables in the sous vide too because it keeps all the nutrients in,” Pete revealed.
That vacuum sealing into bags is useful too, even before you cook the food, as it keeps things fresher longer. Pete said he goes to the fish market once a month, buys loads of produce, seals it into portion-sized bags and throws it in the freezer, claiming if you do so, it’s as fresh as the day you bought it when you cook it.
The cooking technique originated from France in the 1970s and involves placing vacuum sealed meats, seafood, vegetables or fruit into a water bath at a precisely controlled temperature for a fail safe result. For the perfect presentation, simply sear in a hot pan quickly before plating up. Particularly useful for cooking meats and seafood, sous vide (pronounced ‘soo veed’ for the non-Francophiles) cooking ensures every part of the food is cooked to individual preference – for example, rare, medium or well done in the case of red meats.
The BrevilleSous Vide Supreme lets you cook with confidence. It’s a bit like cooking by numbers. The precision temperature control provides exceptional cooking stability and reliability. This prevents overcooking and allows the natural nutrients, juices and aromas of the food to be retained. We had a go ourselves at cooking a piece of salmon and OMG was it buttery and mouthwateringly tender (also didn’t stink the kitchen out with fish smell). Really, really easy too. Just follow the instructions in the manual which tell you how long and at what temperature to cook a variety of meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, even eggs (softly poached), to perfection. It’s also possible to cook things like custard and risotto in it.
“With the rise of the celebrity chef and television cooking shows both here and abroad, home cooks have become more familiar and intrigued with this relatively new form of cooking,” says Breville cooking category manager, Sharon Lenzner. “Sous vide can achieve the kind of edge-to-edge perfection, on a salmon fillet for example, which cannot be replicated with pan frying or oven baking. The technique is perfect for marinating and adding aromatics to intensify flavours, and breaks down tough connective tissue to gelatin, resulting in succulent, tender and moist meats. It can be used for both premium and the increasingly popular secondary cuts of meat.”
It’s not cheap, at $799.85, but it is super easy to use and you can cook almost anything in it. Depending on how and how often you cook, it might be a worthwhile investment. It’s less than half the price of a Thermomix after all and if it’s good enough for hatted restaurants… It’s also a really healthy way to cook.
The large appliance, with an 11-litre capacity is not compact though, so if you’re light on bench space, it could quickly get annoying. On the plus side, its size means it can hold a whole chicken or shoulder of lamb. Simply set, forget, and come back to meat falling off the bone and melting in your mouth.
Would I buy one? No. Because I don’t cook enough and I have a small apartment kitchen. Do I think it’s a really smart, easy, healthy way to cook? Absolutely!