The Sansaire

It doesn't get much more OLDNERD than sous vide cooking. Placing vacuumed-sealed food in a picro-controlled water bath in order to bring the food to a precise temperature is a very nerdy way of cooking. and unless you're a deep food nerd from a very young age, you're going to be fairly old before you give enough of a shit to get into it.

About 14 months ago, I started playing with sous vide using the cheapest option available - a Dorkfood DSV temperature controller and a large Crock Pot. The temperature controller managed the power to the Crock Pot, heating the water inside based on the temperature the controller's probe measured. And it worked. I got some very nice results when everything went well. But there were flaws.

First, it was fussy. The screen on the Dorkfood was an unlit LCD. The probe is tough to keep stuck in the water. And most importantly, it doesn't circulate the water. It relies on the convection currents within the water to keep the water moving, which is less than perfect. But for the price, compared to the other options, it was a solid, if kludgy, solution.

Well, in the past year, the market has changed dramatically, with three different companies putting out high-end, self-contained immersion circulators for around $200, or about $60 more than I spent on the Dorkfood setup. And then there was a sale and a lack of impulse control and all of a sudden I had a Sansaire immersion circulator. And I loooooooooove it to death.

Basically, it fixes everything that annoyed me about my Dorkfood rig. The temperature is displayed in bright blue LED's on the side, and controlled by a twisting band at the top. There's a power button, a F/C button, and a button to briefly show the target temp instead of the current temp, and that's it. And it's a true, 1100 watt immersion circulator, moving the water around and heating it at about one degree every 20 seconds (which is way faster than a Crock Pot on high, by the way). And, since I can put it in a giant stock pot, I can do everything on the stove, instead of taking up counter space. It is fucking glorious.

So far, I've done salmon, chicken breast, and avocados. The salmon, which never came out right in the Dorkfood, is what I'd always heard sous vide salmon described as - at 122 degrees F, just to the point of flakiness, but almost all the moisture of raw. The chicken I fucked up, because I was sick, and I misread the temp on the card and cooked it way too hot for half an hour before backing it off. But I only did four breasts that way, and they still came out pretty good. And the two I did correctly? Let's just say that the poached chicken breast as a very concept has been redeemed.

I also took the opportunity to upgrade my vacuum sealing infrastructure, getting some reusable quart zipper bags and a zipper bag sealer attachment for my Foodsaver. Quarts are perfect for one piece of meat, without the extra plastic that comes from making or using a standard Foodsaver roll/bag. I also got a couple of vacuum seal containers, specifically for making SPACE GUACAMOLE.

You make SPACE GUAC just like regular guac, except you drop the avocados in a 40 degree Celsius water bath for a couple of hours to ostensibly denature the enzyme that makes avocados brown in air, and then you put the finished guacamole in containers you can suck the air out of between uses to really minimize the browning and make the guac last longer. I'll let you know how it works out.