“Sous Vide. What’s that?” “Is that some Spanish stuff?” “Boil-in-the-bag. Like they do on Masterchef”. Such were the reactions to my introducing Sous Vide to the cohort of the Great Unwashed that fronts as ‘my friends’. I did have a debt of honour to repay. So I needed to cook some Sous Vide Salmon and present it as well as I possibly could.
A number (an embarrassing number) of months ago, my good friend Stefan over in Amsterdam set me a bit of a task. He sent me some sous vide pouches and challenged me to prepare some sous vide fish, using almost barbaric methods. He wanted me to cook it on the stove top, regulating the temperature using a meat probe (which he, generously, also supplied) as my only guide. I blanched at the task. I promised myself to man up and take it on. Thankfully, fate and Eldest Daughter intervened, gifting me an Anova sous vide device for Christmas. Game on, as it were.
My research into water temperatures and cooking times for salmon yielded a great range of recommendations and opinions. I settled on 50ºC for 30 minutes. Stefan, the undisputed Sous Vide King of Northern Europe, promotes a lower temperature. I’m still a Sous Vide Virgin so maybe I’ll be brave and go there next time.
Here’s what I did. I scaled and skinned two salmon darns. Then I cut off the thin bit on the end, reserving both the skin and the thin bit.
I ended up with what you see in the next picture.
Side note on being competitive: Stefan does a fantastic job and maintains very high standards. I try to avoid direct competition where I will lose. But, I can’t help myself here. I will sous vide the salmon, fry the square and crisp the skin to make things as 5 Star as I can. I can’t help myself!
There’s not a lot to it from here. I poured a tablespoon of good quality olive oil into each pouch (one per darn).
Next I added the salmon and used the water displacement method to get the air out of the bags. Then into the water bath with them for a precise 30 minutes at a precise 50ºC.
I have to say, the salmon didn’t look too elegant coming out of the water. While the salmon was cooking we prepared some celeriac mash (50% steamed celeriac and 50% steamed potatoes, mashed with a good dollop of butter and plenty of warm milk) and some steamed green beans. I cut the skin into squares and fried it and the salmon ends on a hot pan.
In truth, the skin spat and jumped about a bit, I should have dried it first. Once the salmon was cooked, we assembled the dish, photographed it while it went cold and then ate it.
The verdict: The nicest bit of salmon we ever tasted. It looks like there really is something very special to this sous vide thing. I owe Stefan a debt of gratitude for his thoughtful challenge and to Eldest Daughter for her generous gift. Bring on the odd cuts of meat and the ludicrously long cooking times. Sous Vide, here we come….
Wine paring: Stefan usually advises on paring top quality wines with the fine meals he serves. In this case, we ‘enjoyed’ a cheap Australian white. It was chosen because the red in the cap and on the label paired well with the red edging on my plate. Such is life.