soft boiled egg Tag

HOW TO EASILY SOUS-VIDE IN OVEN, WITH OR WITHOUT WATER

FOR THE PAST 35 YEARS OF SOLEMN HATRED FOR WHITE MEAT, OF CLAWING CHICKEN SAWDUSTS OUT OF MY THROAT, IT MEANS TO TELL ME THAT ALL ALONG, I COULD’VE BEEN EATING THIS SUCCULENCE?!!

IS THIS A JOKE?!!

Let’s face it, most of us never took the idea of “sous vide” seriously as a realistic potential in our home-kitchen, now did we?

This French-sounding… European-ish words (“sus-vahyd”?) that refer to vacuum-sealing our ingredients and submerging them under a warm bath for a long period of time, thus resulting in the extraordinarily supple texture in any cuts of meat, okaaay, all sounds as wonderful as having little house-elf who rap us a Kanye song and clean around the house.  Nice, clap clap, but who are we kidding right?  Hey, believe me, I with you.  Or… at least, I was with you… until a few weeks ago I swear.

I mean, as someone who loves to cook to a degree of obsessive nature, I’m all about humping a technique that, legend has it, could transform a cardboard-like piece of chicken breasts into something so juicy and tender that it defies my anti-faith for chicken breasts.  But to acquire such wizardry, well, I’ll need a wand of course, and it’s called a sous vide-machine.  Thing is I would gladly “sus-vahyd” everything – hey I think it totally makes total sense – IF ONLY I was sitting on a machine that sucks all the air-molecules out of the bags, and another that keeps my tub of water at a constant temperature without asking too many questions.  But guess what, I don’t have a sous vide-machine”s”, and I’m guessing you probably neither.  I guess, we’re all just muggles!  So in the end, the idea all goes back to resembling a fabulous Dobby who raps Kanye → not a realistic potential.  Or is it?

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Chef Steps, a great blog that promotes “Modernist Cuisines for home-cooks”, and at the top of its honorable agenda, is the mission to teach everyone how to sous vide at home, without any machines that is.  It gave me hope, it really did.  I considered it as an invitation into Hogwars.   So I immediately dove into the first experiment, which was to tightly wrap salmon in a zip-lock bag and cook it in a pot of 120 F/50 C water that they said could be maintained over the stove…  Okay, I would elaborate the experience in meticulous details for you but it could pretty much be summed up in one word, well, impossible.  On gas-stove, on induction-stove… whatever, not even the lowest possible setting/flame could keep a pot of water at 120F/50C without heating it up eventually, not to mention the obvious impracticality and side-effect of babysitting a pot of lukewarm water for 40 min, or worse, hours…  Chefs, it’s not you, but it doesn’t work on my stoves.

But to their credit, the effort wasn’t spent in vain.  The episode curiously reminded me of how, a long time ago, I used to babysit a pot of water in oblivion for my hot spring/onsen eggs, only until the moment when I found out that… wait, I HAVE A HOUSE-ELF!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to – Dobby, no, THE OVEN.  Uh-humph, sorry, have you met?  Yeah, it’s this really old piece of technology, dinosaur really, that was designed to, guess what, creating an environment at a… yes, constant temperature!  OK, at this point, we’re not even gonna pretend that we’re “sous vide-ing” anything, which means “under vacuum” in French.  We’re not vacuuming anything, but just keeping to the principle of cooking foods under low temperature for a prolonged period of time.   And I don’t know if you know this about earth, but in most cases, the temperature of water will eventually level to the temperature of its surroundings.  What it means is that a pot of 120F/50C water sitting inside an oven that is constantly at 120F/50C, will stay at… YES, 120F/50C!!  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Do you?  With a little adjustment to the oven-setting to make up for the heat that goes into cooking our foods, my friends, this is your new kitchen-revelation.

Results… the salmon, was a bite of the softest and warm embracive epiphany you could ever put in your mouth.  I would replace it with how I cooked salmon in this recipe and gladly eat it for the rest of my lives.  Then the chicken breasts… what chicken breasts?  It transformed the chicken breasts into something… not of this earth, okay.  This is not chicken breasts, not even chicken, because planet earth does not breed this type of animal which has an unbelievable texture as if a chicken screwed a water-balloon and had a baby on Mars that spoke French.  The texture, the suppleness and bounce, is for a lack of better words, infuriating.  It means to tell me that for the past 35 years of solemn hatred for white meat, the chicken-sawdusts that I’ve been clawing out of my throat, all along, could’ve been this succulence?!!  Is this a joke?!!  

But to my own surprise, amidst the simultaneous anguish and enlightenment, the wizardry didn’t stop here.  Remember my sauna eggs?  A little experiment I conducted based on the theory that, with a little adjustments in temperature and cooking-time (difference in air and water heat-conductivity and such boring sciences, blah blah blah), the same water-bath results can be replicated by using dry-heat only as well.  But does it work with things other than eggs?  YES.  The chicken breasts and salmon cooked inside a water-bath in the oven, VS the same ingredients being cooked simply wrapped up in parchment in dry heat at a different temperature/time, are essentially, undistinguishable.

You can “sous vide” in the oven, with or without water-bath.

So here, my friends, fuck being muggles, come to Hogwarts with me.  With a simple thermometer and oven thermometer, let’s do magic.  I will continue this experiment with more ingredients and do a Part II or perhaps even Part III, but for now, I think you’ll be too busy eating – can’t believe I’m saying this – chicken breasts.  I guess it’s true, nothing is impossible.

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PERFECTLY BAKED SAUNA EGGS

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SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN 50~55 MINUTES, IS THE FIFTY SHADES OF YELLOW

OK, I admit.  For someone who has, more than once, cried sympathy for her egg-allergy, I spend an unnatural amount of time studying the perfect way to cook them.  Not just on my shortcut – 15 seconds to be exact – to creamy and velvety scrambled eggs, but there are up to this point… THREE POSTS in total, solely dedicated to detailed ways of making onsen tamago, aka hot spring eggs.  There was the genesis-post (where my heartbreaking journey on losing one of my favourite things to eat was well documented), then a second one, then a third one.  And now, here’s the fourth.

But, this post isn’t technically about “onsen/hot spring” eggs, where the eggs are submerge in a hot bath of a constant temperature at 158F/70C.  If I may, this is more about something I’d like to call, the sauna eggs.  And this could proven a revelation for those of you out there, who aren’t particular keen on babysitting a thermometer and a pot of hot water, because these, these are baked in the oven.

This mad scientific conduct came after I spotted this on Pinterest a few days ago.  But instead of omg-this-is-genenius-!, I said to myself, holy-shit-what-a-waste-!.  I mean, if someone were to look for a no-fuss method of cooking something, it shouldn’t be applied to what’s already the most fuss-less thing to do on earth, like hard-boiling an egg…  Instead, it should be calibrated, fine-tuned, solely dedicated to achieving the most elegantly beautiful transformation of a single ingredient, this mother earth has to offer.

So I set out my expedition on Wednesday.  Three cartons of eggs and a few disappointments later, I’ve arrived at the truth.  Now, there are obviously 2 major factors at play here, being the temperature, and the cooking time.  The temperature, in this case a less interesting subject, is found to be sitting slightly higher than the hot bath-method, at 175F/80C ~ 185F/85C.  But the cooking time is what’s really interesting here.  Somewhere in between 50~55 minutes, is where the fifty shades of yellow happen.

Judging purely from the appearance of the cracked eggs, you may think there isn’t much difference between 45 to 55 minutes.  And that’s because the difference lies within the yolk.  At 45 minutes, the yolk is still very runny and almost completely raw.  Then at 50 minutes, the yolk has thickened slightly, runs slower, but still hasn’t hit the sweet spot of resembling thick custard.  But in the next mere 5 extra minutes, you can see how the yolk has completely solidified, overcooked, looking more like a soft-boiled egg than what we really want.

The conclusion?  A very specific 53 min at a temperature between 175F/80C ~ 185F/85C.  Little, precious, opaque jewels of deliciousness with a texture lurking between the lines of fluid and solid, jelly and custard.  They are perfect, worth every pain of a one-way infatuation from afar, well, for me at least.  For you, it’s gonna be a full-blown romance.

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SPICY MISO RAMEN-EXPRESS

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I set out to take the first post of 2014 easy… I did.  I thought perhaps a harmless little breakfast pancake can be nice, glistening syrup under the hopeful morning light that symbolizes a new start within me…  Or, perhaps, a statement-recipe like a creme brûlée and ham french toasts-sandwich that’s simple, but flaunting and strange enough to revitalize this blog’s otherwise-subtle individuality in the year to come…  Or better yet, perhaps a complete slacker-post on a summary of everything that could and has gone wrong in my kitchen in 2013… kinda hey~ here’s a fine collection of things you probably don’t wanna eat but don’t I sound really cute talking about it?

But instead, this came out…  And believe me, although it may not look remotely that way, this is taking-it-easy, well… as far as Japanese ramen goes.

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