Interview by Sarah Schaffer
What is happening to meat on a molecular level when you cook it sous vide?
Beef tenderloin, for example, has long fibers. When you cook it, the time of cooking is long because the heat needs to pass from one fiber to another. And when you cook under pressure, the meat can’t grow. So, the retraction of the connective tissue must happen differently than with just cooking over a flame in a traditional way. The results are a more tender, juicy, and flavorful cut of meat.
Why is it important to work with a thick cut of meat when using a sous vide method?
You want a thick piece of meat, but not too thick because the cook time will be too long. And for those who are just beginning to use the technique, it is easier to cook with a thick piece of meat because you need to sear the meat before using sous vide. A thicker slice makes it easier to work with, and you can have a beautiful crusting on the outside while keeping the meat in the center a nice medium-rare.
So many readers have told us that they only cook proteins using sous vide, because it seems easier. What’s the benefit of cooking vegetables using the method?
It seems like nobody works with vegetables with the same attention as they do meat. That may be because you have a lot of people who believe that vegetables have no taste. But it’s just not true. What we’re doing today is discovering new ways to enhance the flavor of vegetables—to give them the best taste when cooked at a precise temperature. It’s about finding the localization of flavor—is it in the root, stem, or leaves? Is it in the core or the periphery? We are testing all of it to find out where the best flavor is.
What are some of your favorite ways to use extracted flavors?
These flavors can be used in a number of ways. Cryoconcentration really enhances the natural flavors of fruits and vegetable juice or extract, and the results can be used as key ingredients in various recipes. I think cocktails and sauces are two of the best ways to showcase these flavors.
Any advice for those thinking of trying sous vide for the first time?
Sous vide is a process of cooking, and you still need to respect the same traditions and standards. What is good in a traditional kitchen is also good in sous vide cooking.
Have a question for the master? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. This article originally appeared in Sous-Vide magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.
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