The US National Restaurant Association just released the results of their annual Chef’s Survey.Under PREPARATION METHODS, the survey lists:
3. Sous Vide
4. Liquid Nitrogen chilling/freezing
PolyScience has the technology for most three out of these five points. We certainly like that! One way of pickling is called “rapid pickling” and is done in a chamber vacuum sealer (video link). Next to sous vide, we also provide the main tool for oil-poaching – an immersion circulator.
In fact, when looking at the points “sous vide” and “oil-poaching”, we wish we could group this into “precise liquid temperature cooking”. Essentially and from what we see in the hottest restaurants, these 2 methods have more in common than not – getting liquid temperature exactly right every single time! That in mind, we simply can’t resist to share our perspective and comment.
“Sous Vide” has been on this “What’s hot?” list for probably 2-3 years, but the term is unfortunate. Its translation means “under vacuum” and creates this strong focus on what is only one step in the process (vacuum sealing) – and that step of the process isn’t always required or even desired to achieve the key benefit of what chefs do when they say they are cooking sous vide. Leading (and hot!) chefs understand that the real revolutionary element of “sous vide” cooking is precision and repeatability.
When observing them in their kitchens, the concept of sous vide has long evolved from a narrowly defined “sous vide” technique of cooking Foie gras in plastic wrap with an immersion circulator. These chefs focus on the idea of precise liquid temperature control, and apply many creative variations as steps of the cooking process. When talking to successful chefs about what they consider the difference between “sous vide” and “poaching in oil” the argument would be: A lot of our “sous vide” recipes include poaching in oil or butter – either inside a bag or in direct contact of a circulated liquid that can be clarified butter, olive oil, duck fat or even a mix of fat and maple syrup.
That also points out that many chefs think that vacuum-sealing isn’t always required or even desired. We’ve seen many kitchens cooking food directly in the circulated liquid or in a small open container that is placed in a controlled water bath (like a deep, narrow hotel pan filled with any type of liquid). Vacuum sealing becomes relevant when compression of product texture is desired, loss of flavor to surrounding liquid is to be prevented, most efficient distribution of expensive ingredients for product infusion (truffle, saffron, etc) is the goal, and of course when other economic advantages like preparation, portion control, storage, shelf life and convenient handling are important.
We are curious to hear your take on the survey results, learn about your approach if it isn’t covered and are happy to answer any questions!