Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sous-vide Salmon

On Saturday I went to dinner at ulla and I was very impressed with the sous-vide chicken roll they had.   Sous-vide is not a cooking technique I have personally had much experience, I am not sure I have ever eaten anything sous-vide before.  I have seen the technique used on programs like Iron Chef America, but really no personal experience.   So what did I do?   I decide to sous-vide, how hard could it be?

Last night I decided to sous-vide some fresh sockeye a friend drop off on the door step (this year my freezer is more than full but if I could I would get 20-30 sockeye and freeze them, but I really need a second freezer to do that).   I filleted the fish - my skills are no longer what they once were.   When I lived in Lillooet I would process between 20 and 40 salmon a year and I got fairly decent at cutting off decent fillets.   I also made some steaks that I am going to through on the BBQ tonight.

Four of the fillets went to make graavilõhe (also know as gravlax).   I used to make a lot of this from spring salmon in Lillooet.   The bigger fillets made cutting slices so much easier.  

Two of the fillets looked like perfect portions for one person for dinner and I thought about the preparation and quickly decided to try sous-vide.   I do not have an immersion ciculator so I had to cook the salmon in ziplock bags and a pot of hot water.

I seasoned each fillet, covered them with thin slices of onion and put them in the ziplock bags.  I added about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to each bag.   I removed as much of the air as I could from the bags, not enough and next time I will use a straw to remove more.

I put on an eight litre pot of water on the stove and aimed for 114-120 degrees Fahrenheit.   I easily reached it and the water rose up to 135.   I let it cool down to about 120 before putting the fish in.   I added a bunch of canning rings to the bottom of the pot to make sure the salmon could not touch the bottom of the pot.  I was also using a stick blender to circulate the water from time to time to ensure a consistent temperature.

I only needed to have the element at the lowest setting to keep the temperature consistent.

I cooked the salmon for just under 20 minutes at 116-117 degrees.   I kept the temp within one degree for the whole time which was actually not hard to do.   The air in the bags did make them want to rise and I needed to put a coffee mug on them to keep them under water.

The salmon that came out was amazingly delicate and perfectly cooked.  I had no idea I could make a piece of salmon that good in my kitchen.   The onion added a perfect light bite.   The flesh of the salmon was tender but firm, no mushiness.  Wow is all I can say to it all.

We had rice with the salmon which had been cooked in a stock I had made from the salmon bones and head. For the veg I made lemony almost Chinese style braised pepper and zucchini dish, the acid from this dish balanced nicely with the rest of the meal.

I was impressed with the sous-vide method and I will be trying it again sometime soon.

(not pics because we still have no camera, outs was stolen in Manning Park about a month ago)
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