Spring and sous-vide

I am sitting in a coffee shop on perhaps the nicest day of the year so far. The trees are just starting to bud, birds are singing, the sun is beaming luxurious rays down on the T-dot. It is perhaps the first day of the year where I, with my limited fat content, could go outside wearing only a cotton T-shirt (and pants of course!). I get very excited about spring because not only is it warmer but it leads to summer which to me is the best time of the year.

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This photo is of course, a view of Queen Street East, ironically taken a few days ago, but it was cold then!! The picture is really just to illustrate spring, nice weather and overall sunniness.

Chef school has been less exciting since we started the theory section of the course. We learn about meat cuts and vegetables and what temperature to store what at… all very interesting but nothing to eat! I am consistently hungry in the mornings! Last Friday I had to do a presentation in front of the class on spices. I focused more so on the chemical structure of the molecules and what imparts flavour in the spice… I didn’t want to explain it all but to transverse into the next thing I want to say I sort of have to; Spices are volatile, meaning the aroma, the flavour-carrying molecule travels through the air. So when spicing, care must be taken that spice is added the right way at the right time in the cooking process. Ok so here is where the second part comes in; I had a sous-vide hanger steak the other day and the only beef I had with it was that the “herbal infusion” was simply too strong. The sous-vide process will do that because the volatile molecules in the herbs have no where to go, they can’t evaporate and so they permeate the whole meat. The fifth tasty of umami is often described as meatiness. Good meat needs little seasoning. Especially steak. One of the best steaks I have had was just oiled with salt and pepper and grilled to medium doneness. The other thing with the sous-vide steak is the steak was seared afterward, thus completely negating the point of sous-vide. High heat and exposure to air cause volatiles to release quicker, so why would one take the care to vacuum-seal and cook at a low temperature only to sear it afterward? This is such a common practice and it does not make sense. Please enlighten me, masters of the sous-videry!!

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