The mystical and French-sounding art of sous vide cooking is one of those culinary techniques that goes in and out of fashion. The phrase literally means ‘under vacuum’, which straight away makes it sound rather complicated and scientific. Then you look at the equipment involved – a big, steamy water bath that looks like a medical device, a vacuum sealing machine the size of printer and a welter of thick plastic bags of various sizes – and you may well think, ‘I’ll pass, thanks’.
However, there is another way. It’s rather chic, involves the absolute minimum volume of gear and serves up the same excellent results as a full-size sous vide oven. It’s the Zwilling Enfinigy Sous Vide Stick.
This allows you to get the delicious and healthy results without investing a small laboratory's-worth of gear. Delicious because sous vide allows you to cook things perfectly – although of course, ideas of what 'perfect' means may differ – and healthy because it is possible to cook using less fat and oil with this stye of cookery. And you can't make chips in one.
Firstly, a quick refresher on what sous vide is, and why you might want to try it. The process involves vacuum packing food – most classically, meat and fish – in the aforementioned plastic bags. The main purpose of this is to waterproof your dinner, because it then goes into the water bath to cook. The clever part of this is that the water temperature is set to exactly the right heat to make your meat, fish or vegetables cook perfectly.
Again the most obvious example here is a steak, which reaches medium rare when its internal temperature is in the region of 55ºC – chefs all have a different view on what exactly the right temp is, but it’s in that kind of ballpark. So if the water is at 55ºC, that is the temperature the steak will eventually reach and not one centigrade more. Mwah! Chef’s kiss. Although you then will probably want to sear the steak in a pan or attack it with a blowtorch, as this cooking process makes it come out looking a little raw.
Anyway, the Enfinigy Sous Vide Stick does away with the water bath part of the deal, and lets you use any pan of your choice. How? Because it contains a heating element and a thermometer. Stand it in your pan of choice and it will heat to whatever temperature you like and then keep it at that level for as long as you like – sous vide can be quite a slow process, as you can imagine.
How do you go about vac-packing your meal before sous viding, though? Well, it just so happens that Zwilling also makes an excellent vacuum sealing system called Fresh & Save. As the name suggests, it was originally for keeping your food fresh and, er, safe. But it works just as well when it comes to sealing food for cooking sous vide. It’s brilliantly compact, with a handheld pump that sucks the air out of Zwilling’s Fresh & Save bags via a valve.
I put the Stick to the test and found it made cooking steak, chicken and fish to absolute perfection laughably simple. The other benefit of sous vide is that because the food is already shrink wrapped, it can easily be cooled – an ice bucket is recommended, to speed the process up – then frozen and saved for another day. Et voila: cordon bleu meals are ready whenever you need them.
We'll have a full review of this meaty miracle stick very soon.
Zwilling Enfinigy Sous Vide Stick: price and availability
Enfinigy Sous Vide Stick costs from £129/$160 with the Fresh & Save vacuum sealer from £70/$70. Exciting news: the Zwilling USA site has a sale on right now so these are discount prices in America!
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