I'm so happy to see these lower-cost sous vide rigs bringing more people into the fold. I've been a die-hard convert of my Sous Vide Supreme for years. There's a lot of good safety information out there, but I couldn't find a good short summary, so I wrote one: http://unsellingconvenience.tumblr.com/post/71462437173/a-summary-of-sous-vide-safety-issues
I've also put up some ideas for some more unusual (but still easy) things to make:
There are 2 other lower cost ciculators out there, both at $199. The Sansaire and The Anova. I went with an Anova, and love it. Cheaper than the Nomiku and Anova's been on of the leading brands of lab grade circulators for decades. I've heard some dodgey things about the Sansaire, even discounting their legal troubles and shipping problems. Apparently there are build quality issues. Anova has a kick starter for a new cheaper circulator running right now as well
Other than that I'm curious as to why your heating the water before you add it to the bath, and adding additional insulation. These things are designed to heat the water from tap temperature, so its unnecessary to add hot water to them. Unless your vastly exceeding the max volume (22 liters on the Anova, similar for the Nomiku if I remember right) it shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes to hit temperature, and no additional insulation should be required. Adding warm or hot water (below your cooking temp) speeds that up considerably. But I don't see a point in trying to add water that's at your cooking temp when the thing is a heater. Anyone adding boiling water to the bath to up the temperature runs the risk of overshooting their selected temperature, and since these things can only heat not cool the water, you'd have to wait for the temp to come down naturally which can take waaaay longer than heating it up depending on how far you have to go..
In terms of your tough steak, it takes a while. I did a couple large chuck steaks at 130 for 28 hours and it worked great. Mid rare steak with the texture of pot roast. Many recipes for tough cuts call for even longer, 48-72 hours or so size dependant. You might have been running at too high a temp, or not let it run long enough, give it another shot cause its a neat trick.
Missed the Kickstarter but I have been following Nomiku for a long time. Can't wait to get mine and sous my vide all over the place.
I'll probably get eaten alive by threatened carnivores with this question, but I'll ask it because it is actually a serious question and I'm curious: Are there any vegetarian or vegan things that lend themselves to sous vide cooking? Eggs for the ovo-lacto vegetarians, of course, but anything else? Or is this really a method suited for animal proteins only?
From the nom-tastic http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/how-to-sous-vide-carrots-vegetables.html
I'm the first to admit that sous-vide is not the best way to cook everything, and that goes for the majority of my favorite vegetables. Peas, asparagus, ramps—all those delicious, fresh spring flavors do better with a quick blanch or a sauté.
That said, there are some vegetables for which sous-vide cooking can't be beat. For me, carrots top that list. When cooked in a sealed bag with a little bit of butter, sugar, and salt, the natural flavor of the carrot intensifies into a sweeter, stronger, and downright tastier version of itself. It's one of the few cooking methods where the end result is a vegetable that tastes more like itself than when you started.
Carrots not your thing? The following vegetables will do equally well with the exact same recipe:
Small onions (like cipollini or pearl onions), peeled.Small radishes, scrubbed of dirt, stems trimmed to 1/4-inch, or large radishes, cut into 1-inch pieces. Small turnips, peeled, stems trimmed to 1/4-inch, or large turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces. Parsnips, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered.
And this Nomiku sure is pretty, but about $200 more than an even-more-flexible DIY solution.
Thanks, I'll take a closer look! And yes, if I did dip my toes into the (hot) water, I'd probably be inclined to DIY anyway, as pretty as the Nomiku is.
Why start a sous-vide with hot tap water instead of cold tap water?
Maybe commercial appliances are smarter than the DIY controller I put together (a more modular version of this http://boingboing.net/2011/11/04/diy-sous-vide-cooking.html) but I've found that when you're starting from way below your desired temperature, not only does it take quite a while to heat the water up, but it tends to overshoot at first - it's a lot easier to maintain a specific temperature than to reach one.
As such, I tend to mix hot tap water with a few cups of boiling water when getting things started, so I'm within 5-10F of my desired temp before I even turn the controller on. It really makes a world of difference. And if you go overboard it's super-easy to cool things down by scooping out a little of the just-too-hot water and replacing with an equal volume of tap water.
I'd hold off for the new Anova model. The Serious Eats pre-release review is glowing. It can be controlled with a smartphone and is cheaper than the old model. $159 at the moment - $169 RRP. Free international shipping and 110 an 230 volt versions.
The catch? It's on Kickstarter and not shipping until October.
I think all articles about sous vide should be banned until somebody publishes instructions on how to pronounce it.
It might be necessary with DIY, and from what I understand can be useful with low powered or non-circulating commercial devices. But the with my Anova at least (and the Nomiku and Sansaire are nearly identical to the Anova on spec sheet) its totally unnecessary. It heats large volumes quickly, consistently, and never over shoots. Without any added insulation. I tend to use warm or hot tap water at whatever temp comes out of my tap because it will heat quicker. I'm basically saving myself 10 minutes. But with these devices there isn't really a compelling reason to try and fill it with water at the target temp. Its designed and built to do that for you.
I'm curious because if the Nomiku can't consistently and automagically bring room temp water to the target with out overshooting. Or requires carefully pre-heated water for some other reason, that's a pretty big short falling as compared to its two direct competitors. Both of which are $100 cheaper.
It's pronounced almost exactly like this:
You can cook pretty much anything in it. Poke around there are quite a few vegetable recipes, mushrooms are a popular option, and there's likely to be specific vegan recipes floating around out there. Many of the big "wow" techniques are really only going to be relevant to meat. I've used it to par-cook potatoes before frying, or to poach vegetables before grilling. But the results aren't necessarily any different than when I do the same thing the conventional way. Its just easier and more convenient, which is probably the biggest surprise I've had since getting the thing. Its a huge labor saver in a lot of cases even when you aren't shooting for "only with sous vide" results. Especially when I'm cooking for 15+ people.
Not being a vegan or vegetarian I couldn't really tell you about anything in that realm that would be analogous to all the meaty magic. As was mentioned in the OP something about the vacuum seal + low temperature thing seems to exaggerate certain flavorings. Especially herbs and aromatics. I've seen this exploited to give stronger flavors to tofu. Seal it up with some heavily flavored fat and steep it at low temp for a while before searing. I'm reasonably sure sous vide would be useless for beans, lentils, or grains of any sort unless pre-cooked. So depending on what you rely on for main dishes it might not be all that relevant for you.
Thanks. That's about what I had guessed, but I wanted confirmation.
I started seeing the world in a whole different light after learning that sheets are something egg yolks can become. http://chadzilla.typepad.com/chadzilla/2007/05/egg_yolk_sheets.html
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