Modernist Cuisine, sous-vide bible, finally available for the home chef

Modernist Cuisine, By Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet, is without a doubt the single best resource out there for aspiring sous-vide cooks and really any geeky foodies. Now it is (finally) available in a semi-reasonble offering, at under $100 for one huge volume with great pix and one cool spiral-bound, waterproof, volume for kitchen use — that includes all the recipes. It’s too tall to fit on my cookbook bookshelf, but fortunately comes in a nice box, so it looks good even on the counter.

Nathan’s team did seemingly endless research on cooking times, methods, and equipment — much of it very suitable for home use. Not all of it will be of interest to any single person, but there is enough in there to justify the price many times over even if you only count the savings in food from not running all the experiments yourself. I particularly like the burger reinvention chapter. It’s now a relative bargain at $94 from Amazon.


November 16, 2012. Kitchen Equipment, Recipes, Technique. Leave a comment.

Sous-Vide Equipment

For sous-vide you need three things:

1) A constant temperture water bath. This can be as simple as a pot of water in your oven or as nice as a shiny new $1000 digitally controlled thermal bath like the ones from Cuisine Technologies. A good compromise is a used or refurbished thermal bath found on eBay. They run $100-$300. Make sure you have room for whatever you get and that it can be placed near a sink for easy filling and eventual emptying.

2) A vacuum-sealer. Consumer models from FoodSaver are available for under $200. You really need the FoodSaver Pro model for about $199 (it is really still a consumer version despite the name) to have the flexibility to control the sealing and vacuum. Real “pro” vacuum sealers allow you to apply much larger vacuums but can cost over $1,000.

3) An accurate thermometer and probes. Ideally it should read within 1 degree. You’ll also want a probe–preferably thin–to stick through the bag and into your food. If you don’t also have a digital temperature control on your water bath you’ll want to get a probe for it that you can use to measure water temperature. Cooper-Atkins makes one for chefs that you can buy for under $100 from suppliers like Compatible “K-type” probes are another $50 or so each. Some probes also require an extension wire for convenient use.

You can get started of course without all this. Place some eggs or a vacuum-sealed product from the store in a pan of water in your oven and monitor the oven temperature with a $3 oven thermometer and the internal temperature with your current meat thermometer and you’ll get some sense of what is possible, but for better results you’ll need to start investing!–David


January 21, 2006. Kitchen Equipment. 3 comments.