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Sous-Vide or Not Sous-Vide, That is the Quest: Shun.

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I am interested in learning more about 'sous-vide' cooking and restaurants in the DC Metro area that use this cooking method. All I know at the moment is that the food is cooked in vacuum sealed plastic bags immersed in water at a constant temp of just below boiling.

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I am interested in learning more about 'sous-vide' cooking and restaurants in the DC Metro area that use this cooking method. All I know at the moment is that the food is cooked in vacuum sealed plastic bags immersed in water at a constant temp of just below boiling.

Citronelle uses this method for short ribs. Or did.

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Cuisine Solutions in Alexandria teaches all the michelen chefs worldwide on the art and science of sous vide cooking (they taught Michel R) they have classes available. email gbertholon@cuisinesolutions.com for info

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Minibar uses that method a good bit. Also Cafe Atlantico has on their non-dim sum brunch menu a sous vide egg benedict and I love the texture of that egg- I wish all poached eggs were poached in this way.

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Sous-vide is a cancer afflicting our nation's restaurants.

Anyone who can't see it, can't see.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Sous-vide is a cancer afflicting our nation's restaurants.

Anyone who can't see it, can't see.

Cheers,

Rocks.

It certainly is overused, but I would not say that it does not have its place.

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It certainly is overused, but I would not say that it does not have its place.

Name one thing in the world that's "overused" that doesn't have "its place" in limited quantities.

I grew up on this boil-in-bag garbage, and I'm calling sous-vide cooking out for the complete, total, 70s-era, TV-dinner bullshit that it has yet-again become. Remember I said this five years from now.

Restaurants should pay ME to eat it.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Name one thing in the world that's "overused" that doesn't have "its place" in limited quantities.

Crystal Meth, Red Bull, and flip flops

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I too am not a fan of sous vide. I have had dishes cooked sv from some of DC's best chef's where I thought the texture is almost always "wrong" or "off" even when the item is crisped or finished so it has a crust etc. It seems to be a method that in gemeral takes food away from its natural state, and lets not get technical, cooked in not natural but that is not what I am referring.

Having said that, I just had 3 dishes made SV that amazed me: Eola's 24 hour SV pork heart and Nick Stefanelli's "speck and lardo sous vide" where the resultant items had a very toothy texture and were also tender as well {although the speck was merely very good while the lardo beyond category}.

If I had more dishes like this, I would say that in general it is a good thing if used well. But the best I can say right now is that in maybe 40 or 50 SV dishes I have had, I have had 2 wonderful ones and 1 very good ones and somewhere between 37 and 47 blah to bad ones.

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I too am not a fan of sous vide. I have had dishes cooked sv from some of DC's best chef's where I thought the texture is almost always "wrong" or "off" even when the item is crisped or finished so it has a crust etc. It seems to be a method that in gemeral takes food away from its natural state, and lets not get technical, cooked in not natural but that is not what I am referring.

Having said that, I just had 3 dishes made SV that amazed me: Eola's 24 hour SV pork heart and Nick Stefanelli's "speck and lardo sous vide" where the resultant items had a very toothy texture and were also tender as well {although the speck was merely very good while the lardo beyond category}.

If I had more dishes like this, I would say that in general it is a good thing if used well. But the best I can say right now is that in maybe 40 or 50 SV dishes I have had, I have had 2 wonderful ones and 1 very good ones and somewhere between 37 and 47 blah to bad ones.

i had my first experience of sous vide cooking at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona maybe five years ago, and it was pretty exciting, unconventional and really delicious. there's a good chance i will never get back and an equal chance that i will never again encounter sous vide chefs who are as expert as the Spanish in this technique. i think you really have to immerse yourself in it and experiment to get the most out of it, and that is typically not the way restaurants in these parts work.

on a lesser note, because it's more a garnish than anything else, i think foam has gotten a bad rap around here. don't know the extent to which they are being used now, but they showed up at several restaurants in barcelona and were impressive. i've had good foam here, too, at palena, for one, but most of the foams i've encountered since aren't the combination of essential flavor and air they are meant to be and all too often collapse into a puddle.

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i think foam has gotten a bad rap around here.

 
I have never had a foam that I though added textural/flavor interest to a dish that the actual ingredient did have in itself. Again, my prejudices are well know. The best foams I have had were at Alto when Scott Conant was cooking and it was a very special wine dinner and he was definitely involved with the dinner intimately in the kitchen. I remember thinking to my self after tasting, IIRC, a sous vide cooked tortellini stuffing with a reggiano foam, can't I just have some braised meat and some gosh darned shaved Reggiano?

I am a luddite at heart!

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This is an interesting project if you have a little skill and interest.

Here's a better one:

Call out the restaurants who are using the sous-vide technique - not the ones using it as an adjunct, but the ones using it as a primary means of cooking (or purchasing their semi-cooked products).

Sous-vide is to restaurants what steroids are to baseball. It is going to be one of the great culinary scandals of this decade, and I want you to remember that I said this - not five, maybe not ten, but twenty years from now. My words are marked here for posterity.

In case you think I'm anti sous-vide, I happen to think it may just be the best possible solution to school lunches - not to mention airlines, trains, hospitals, banquets, the military, and other lowbrow AFO (away-from-oven) scenarios. I also happen to think human growth hormone (call it "steroids" if you want to) is a Godsend to anyone - especially the elderly - who has muscle wasting from surgery, injury, disease, etc.

But both steroids and sous-vide are being abused as substitutes for talent at the highest level, foisted upon an enthusiastic but unknowing fan base.

Five years ago I wrote this, and I stand by it to this very day, regardless of whether or not I stand alone.

Cheers,

Secretariat.

P.S. Enjoy.

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A note to restaurateurs and chefs everywhere:

Unless you're in charge of food on an airline, hospital, school cafeteria, catering operation, or prison system, don't spend too much time or money over-committing to sous-vide cooking in the long term, because I'm going to spend a fair amount of time dismantling the fallacy of "this generation's microwave oven" which is the single biggest problem facing fine-dining restaurants today - mainly because of critics who are not discerning enough to recognize when it's being abused.

I'm not saying I can't be fooled some of the time, especially when it comes to vegetables which can be done quite well using this method, but when all proteins start coming out at the same temperature and consistency (i.e., meats like a fucking brick, fish like a fibrous mush), and you think you can get away with "adjusting the temperature of the water" or "leaving it in for a bit longer" or "finishing it on the grill on both sides instead of one" or "drowning it in sauce," well ... the sad thing is that you probably CAN in the short term. But in the long term, you can't and you won't, and I'm not going to let you.

Go back to school, learn how to cook, and you've been given fair warning. This is enough to make me want to STAY HOME and do it better myself.

Rocks.

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Could it be that chefs, not unlike other management types, are enamored with new technology and think that it will solve all of their problems? The adaptation of sous-vide reminds me of a former customer that I had that once said its software, it can do anything, well it can't, and one cooking method cannot be adapted to all foods. Whether software or sous-vide, the technology should be used for what it does best, not tried to shoehorned into some sort of panacea.

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The problem isn't the use of sous vide, because when done properly, it's a great technique. There are a lot of great chefs who use it. And I don't understand how meat comes out "like a fucking brick"...that's not because of the use of sous-vide, but perhaps the overuse of some other worldly substances...transglutaminase comes to mind.

By the way, I love my Sous Vide Supreme.

And no, they don't pay me to say that nor do they give me anything for free.

Dismantle away.

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Sorry, but I don't get the anti-sous-vide thing. It's not about the technique, it's about the food. Does it appear on your plate with good flavor, texture and appearance? Eat it and enjoy! Is the flavor off? Texture mushy? Is it colorless and unappealing to the eye? Send it back, complain to the chef, or simply take your business elsewhere. That's true whether it's cooked sous-vide, in a pan, in the oven, or on a grill. OK, so maybe you've had a bunch of bad meals cooked sous-vide. I'm sure you've had some pretty crappy pan-fried food, too. Are you going to campaign against pans?

Focus on the food on the plate. Let the kitchen worry about how it gets there. If chefs hear, often enough, that the stuff coming out of their sous-vide bags sucks, they'll move on to something else.

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Sorry, but I don't get the anti-sous-vide thing. It's not about the technique, it's about the food.

I believe that what Don is complaining about is that too many kitchens are using it as an easy way to consistent results, but consistently bad. I have no problem with the technique, but I do have a problem with its current application, I think that a piece of fish poached gently in stock has a superior flavor, texture, and complexity over those that are cooked in a bag, but on the other hand many vegetables cooked via sous-vide are superior to those that come in contact with water (whether boiling, or steam).

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I know what he's complaining about, but the focus should be on the bad food. Let the chefs worry about the technique.

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I know what he's complaining about, but the focus should be on the bad food. Let the chefs worry about the technique.

Exactly.

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Focus on the food on the plate. Let the kitchen worry about how it gets there. If chefs hear, often enough, that the stuff coming out of their sous-vide bags sucks, they'll move on to something else.

Technique matters from another perspective: there have been articles written about how many plastic tasting spoons go into landfills thanks to a busy night in a large, successful restaurant. Sous-vide bags also increase the amount of non-biodegradable material used in local businesses.

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I know what he's complaining about, but the focus should be on the bad food. Let the chefs worry about the technique.

Exactly.

Do you mean the chefs assembling the food in the cry-o-vac bags and shipping it to the restaurants, or the drones in the restaurants heating and storing it for future use and/or finishing it for final prep?

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Since your post this morning specifically referenced fine dining restaurants, I would say it's the chef whose name is on the menu, the website, the door... whoever is taking credit for the food on the plate.

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It's obvious that your feelings about sous-vide being "a cancer" in the restaurants where you've dined are quite strong. Personally, I'm more offended by the lack of the ability to properly salt food - it's much more widely pervasive and has ruined more of my meals than improperly used sous-vide cookery.

And to extrapolate that to mean the sous-vide should not be allowed to be a tool in the hands of a chef who knows how to use it properly doesn't make that much sense to me.

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It's obvious that your feelings about sous-vide being "a cancer" in the restaurants where you've dined are quite strong. Personally, I'm more offended by the lack of the ability to properly salt food - it's much more widely pervasive and has ruined more of my meals than improperly used sous-vide cookery.

And to extrapolate that to mean the sous-vide should not be allowed to be a tool in the hands of a chef who knows how to use it properly doesn't make that much sense to me.

Far worse than any of that is the horrendous temperature in which red wines are served in most places. Does it really have to be that way?

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Far worse than any of that is the horrendous temperature in which red wines are served in most places. Does it really have to be that way?

Maybe they're cooked sous-vide?

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