After watching the Cooked mini-series on Netflix, I decided that I needed a copy of the Modernist Cuisine book series. Which is really an encyclopedia, with multiple volumes, that costs many hundreds of dollars, and uses techniques and equipment that are extremely difficult to emulate in a small home kitchen. Thankfully they also subsequently released a single volume “Modernist Cuisine at Home” version, which is still enormous (the largest book I own, dwarfing even the 2-volume Culinaria set), but a lot more accessible.
I haven’t even got through the introductory first chapter yet, but jumped straight to a recipe for salmon cooked sous vide. I should mention that I’ve never cooked sous vide before, and have none of the equipment to do so. However, the recipe also included a method to cheat. Essentially you put the fish in a ziplock bag and gently poach it in a large pot of warm water. Then lightly brown it in a pan for a bit of color. If done right, should yield evenly cooked fish, tender but not raw, and juicy without being overcooked. The good news is that it worked great! And I can see how an actual sous vide setup would be even better. But that’s a story for a different day.
- The recipe calls for brining the fish before cooking, but I skipped that step and put the unseasoned salmon fillets straight into the ziploc quart bag, squeezing out all of the air to create a close approximation to a vacuum.
- Fill a large pot (I used a heavy 8-quart stock pot) with hot water from the tap. Use a digital thermometer, it should be around 120-125F depending on how well-done you want the fish.
- Add the bag with the fish, and let it steep for 25 minutes. The water will cool a bit, but that’s ok because we started with it hotter than we want the finished product, and we used a large volume of water to retain the heat.
- Meanwhile, melt some butter (and/or olive oil) in a cast iron (or non-stick) pan.
- Remove the fish from the bath, and take out the bag. Pat dry if wet. If the fish has skin, remove it and cook separately. Season both sides of the salmon to taste (I used some of Bobby Flay’s ancho fish spice mix), and cook gently in the pan for about 30 seconds on each side. The skin will take a minute or two per side to crisp up.