Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sous Vide

I helped out with the cooking demonstration down at the farmer's market at the Ferry Building this past Saturday. It's called "Market to Table" and it is every Saturday at 10:30 after "Meet the Farmer" at 10:00. I enjoy meeting the professional chefs and authors that demonstrate their recipes and it is fun to see what goes on behind the scenes to put these events together.

Saturday's Market to Table featured Bruce Hill of Picco and Bix. He brought a really interesting technique to the spot light: Sous Vide. It means "under vacuum". The technique involves cooking meat (in his case, duck breast) in a vacuum sealed bag that is placed in a water bath that measures 130 degrees for one hour. (He used a crock pot to facilitate this) The idea is that you bring the meat or fish to a desired end temperature by placing it in water of that exact temperature, allowing the protein to gently cook as it comes up to that temperature. The product that results from this extremely even cooking method does not have a gradient of done-ness from the outside to the inside. It was the same color throughout. It does not lose any moisture and is therefore also very tender.

As you can imagine, this new trend in cooking at a low temperature has sparked some concern among health officials. New York City recently banned it in restaurants there until safety guidelines are drafted. I don't plan on buying a crockpot and trying this at home anytime soon, but while it's still legal in San Francisco, I plan to go to Bix and check it out.

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