Molecular gastronomy for dummies


The sous vide machine is to foodies what the iPhone was to techies. Sous vide, French for “under vacuum,” or “cryovacking” in some anglophone parts of the world, is a cooking technique that is poised to make its way from professional kitchens to amateur home cook’s counters.

The innovative machine is a vacuum-sealing device that allows you to slow-cook your food at a very low temperature, sometimes for well over 24 hours, producing ultra-moist and flavourful meals.

Check out a YouTube video demystifying the process here.

There’s nothing new about this technique, invented by a French chef in the 1970s. But with a slew of sous vide equipment about to hit the store shelves in time for the holiday season, sous vide is about to become accessible. If not to the masses, then to the amateur foodie contingent.

Celebrated chef Thomas Keller’s latest book “Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide” has also just come out, generating an excited buzz among the foodie blogging public.

Co-author Michael Ruhlman says this “definitive” cookbook is the first to codify this technique, and provide basic how-tos on storage, marination, compression, and cooking.

Still, though, it’s a pricey proposition. A “barely used” tabletop machine was going for US$2,000 on Craigslist while one eBay vendor was selling the “complete sous vide cooking system” for US$1,799 on a buy-it-now basis.

And for someone like me who has limited counter space and is hesitant to jump on expensive faddish gadgets, the sous vide machine has a futuristic Jetsons-like quality that makes me want to wait for the portable version. Or simply buy a plane ticket to California and eat at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.