Love Takes Learning
I love Sous Vide, I loved it as soon as I started doing it. It really changed my view of cooking in general, and it has ended up changing my life. I can sous vide almost anything. I never really got that excited about sous vide seafood, though. Or sous vide eggs, but that’s another article.
I’m a member of a few 10K clubs. 10K clubs are things that you’ve done 10K times. 10K hours practicing on a violin should make you an expert, that sort of thing. I’ve cooked fish many different ways, 10K times, each, even before I found sous vide. And that includes shell fish and mollusks, and squid and everything, I’ve done oceans full of seafood. Sauteed, deep fried, fried, pan fried, this fried, that fried, poached, steamed, boiled, cured, smoked, never met a fish I didn’t like, except maybe blowfish. I’m a Scorpio, but I was born on the cusp of Pisces. Sous vide just never seemed to improve it, or offer that much cachet. People talk up sous vide seafood, salmon, lobster, but, well, whatever.
People ask me how to sous vide fish, though, and I don’t like to say don’t do it. I don’t like to say don’t sous vide ANYTHING, that’s how I feel about sous vide. I will advise against using sous vide to cook Ahi, but I like it raw better than cooked anyway. I advise against rendering lard via sous vide, because that requires friction that doesn’t occur in a bag. People want to sous vide lard to avoid the smell. I LIKE the smell. Other than that, sous vide is never the wrong answer.
So I resigned myself to making fish work sous vide. I was cautiously optimistic. I prayed on it, I relaxed on it, I meditated on it, I forgot it and reminded myself to think about it. I wrote songs about sous vide fish, all in preparation for that moment of inspiration. Inspiration doesn’t always come in moments, sometimes it keeps you from sleeping, it nags at you, it hides from you, and it takes you down a crooked road to know it. None of those things happened.
So I just bought some TROUT.
Sometimes you have to approach it from the other end. Put it in front of you, and call out to it. So proud. I surprised myself. Couple of things.
- Come to Daddy. Trout look just like Salmon, and the biology of fresh water fish and salt water fish is over my head. They go back and forth, but fresh water kills salt water fish, and vice versa, unless that is they’re intention. Then they MUST go forth.
- Always look for the clear eyes, yada yada, we all know that.
- I cut off their heads and tails, and started a sous vide stock, but let’s stay focused on this aspect.
- Salt, Pepper, some Himalayan salt, and some dried parsley. There’s a reason for this, but I want to reveal it later.
- We’re going to cook some, and we’re going to cure some.
- The amount of salt I use remains the same, roughly 1 Tablespoon per lb of fish, even including the bone, nothing changes for me.
- Into the vacmaster bag, even though Ziploc works fine for this too.
- Sucking all the air out of the bag actually retards the curing process, we’ll talk about that some other time too.
- Cool pic of a bunch of bags with trout, and the handle of my Lipavi knife.
- Into the fridge while I figure out what direction to go next.
- Obviously, we’re going to “poach” some.
- I made a bunch of stuff to go with it, but again, let’s talk about trout.
140F/60Cx thirty minutes.
- Nobody does it like that.
- That is way old school, and all my colleagues say 110F, 115F, etc.
- Yeah, that works too. But that’s not what we’re a gonna do.
- “Cause it’s MY BLOG, that’s why.
- Yup, that’s trout all right, turnin’ all white like it does.
Time Out! Let me show you this one cool thing!
- Take some asparagus, and this thing they call a zester, for the obvious reason. It zests things, usually lemons or oranges.
- Zest some asparagus.
- Don’t spin it, just keep zesting and you’ll get a flat slice of peel to discard or munch.
- Deep fry the Asparagus zest @350F/177C until a few pieces start to show brown, then drain them on a towel.
- Totally cool.
And, now, the bad news.
I’ve been making videos and shooting stills of everything, so I can post stuff to YouTube, pretty cool. I’m even playing instruments on the elevator music background. Lots of fun, lots of work. I shot video of boning the fish, I’m kind of good at it. But I forgot to focus the videocam, so I’m bummed. I bought some more trout, we will reshoot. I promise. In the mean time…
Dateline, April 15: This just in!
- Use a spoon, a dull knife, a fire ax, whatever you got around.
- Peel the skin off, calmly, relaxed, nothing to it.
- Flip and repeat. Otherwise you got nekkid on one side, and clothed on the other.
- Run the tool down the middle seam, and pull the filets off.
- Lift out the bone, and reassemble.
- Those zests on top are sick.
- Little lemon, little mayo stuff or butter stuff. more on that later.
- I dig it with the skin on, but you do the same thing.
- You can see a little parsley clinging, but fresh herbs don’t do much in a 140F bag for half an hour, don’t bother.
- Little sous vide taters that I carved in the bag, fish should always have a tater with it, so if you choke on a bone, that potato might save your life.
- Never actually heard of that happening, but I guess we wouldn’t.
Prepare to be amazed.
One of the great things about sous vide is you can process stuff, shock it cold, and then retherm it by conventional methods later. This can really give you amazing results with chicken and pork and beef. But it’s counterintuitive for fish. We all expect to eat cooked fish right away, unless it’s tuna in a can. But, I had a bit of trout on my hands, so I shocked a couple of pieces down after I processed them.
- Right out of the fridge, right out of the bag, these two tail halves looked like this.
- Even kinda stuck together.
- I pulled them apart, so careful, and dusted with flour.
- One thing.
- When you dust with flour, don’t do it on the cutting board.
- Do it on a piece of wax paper or a paper towel or something.
- Now I have to clean the cutting board.
- Fry it in a pan, just like you would if it was raw.
- Takes the same amount of time as it would.
- Penetration time remains the same whether the product is raw or cooked.
- People always assume heating up is faster than cooking.
- Not really. Make it hot.
- Watch for the flesh next to the bone to turn white–again.
- Looks strangely normal.
- On to the cutting board, which I cleaned, I hate that.
- Just like I did it the first time.
- This is a beautiful thing.
- Potato/Celery puree with some capers, not bad for an old shoemaker.
- I’m not sure what this means.
- It was good. Really good.
- It sure didn’t taste like leftover fish.