Singapore

Keystone restaurant, Singapore

I’ve heard of Keystone restaurant for some time now but never really made the effort to go out and try it. To be honest, I get pretty lazy when thinking about going out to fine dine in Singapore; but Keystone recently piqued my interest with chef Marks presentation of Sous vide cooking at the Savour.sg event. I’ve always wanted to document the impact on Sous vide on a modern restaurant that embraces the technique, and thus I emailed chef Mark to ask for a chance to view the kitchen if I happened to have a meal at his restaurant. I should probably point out as a disclaimer at this point that Chef Mark knew I was going to be coming in for a lunch reservation; I do not know if I was given preferential treatment based on this information, or if my dishes were plated differently, but to stay true to myself and the blog, I will be upfront with how I felt about the meal.

      

Amuse: Caramelized banana, pineapple with shaved almond, truffle popcorn with soy
The banana portion was a pureed banana, with a brûlée-d sugar finish over the top, truffle popcorn had a custard like texture, both were quite surprising texture wise, but it was the flavor of the cold pineapple with shaved almond that popped the most. Okay

   

Parmesan rosemary focaccia
The Parmesan gave the soft fluffy bread a nice crunch and textural contrast. The use of rosemary, which can be quite an aggressive herb, was spot on, it perfumed the bread nicely. I don’t usually go crazy about bread courses bur this was quite enjoyable. Good

   

43° SALMON GRAVLAX 
Tat Soi | Smoked Cream | Arctic Char Caviar | Tarragon Pommery

The salmon was cooked sous vide at a very low temperature, even lower than mi cuit, it was very similar to sashimi. I liked the dish, the cream tied everything together, the caviar had a firm, almost crunchy like texture. The orange pommery provided flavor encapsulated bursts of sweetness that provided a nice pop to the dish. The black calamari crackers had a similar texture to keropok(sorry for those non singaporeans/malaysians), albeit slightly more crisp, and it packed a lot of briny flavor that worked well with the fish. I wish it had been served in smaller pieces, because of the nature of is texture, it was quite impossible to break using utensils, so they had to be eaten in one bite. Just a slight issue with ergonomics in an otherwise solid dish. Good

   

GREEN EGGS & PULLED PORK
Agria potato Espuma | Atsina Baby Cress | Tsukiji Seaweed Soil | Green pea puree

The ‘green’ portion of the dish that isn’t quite visible is a pea puree. The pulled pork is first cooked sous vide, then braised in a Japanese style to infuse flavor. To be completely technical, it’s not really pulled pork since it wasn’t pulled, but the braise definitely gave it strong soy flavor that balanced out nicely with the vibrant, sweet pea puree. The egg was poached sous vide and the custard like texture of the yolk bound the whole dish together. The potato espuma tasted like an incredibly fluffy, light, savory potato puree, incredibe. Lots of soft textures in the dish but it all amalgamated together in harmony, one criticism is that the Atsina baby cress was slightly chewy, unpleasantly so, but this was the best dish of the meal, although I wish the pea puree was served on top for a greater visual effect. Good

    

NORWEGIAN FLAT WHITE 
Chanterelle Fricassée | Smoked Berskshire Belly | Smoked Sea Urchin Foam

A beautifully plated dish, but easily the one I agreed with the least. First, the faults- The fish was overcooked, which I found surprising considering the fact that Keystone utilizes a lot of sous vide cooking. The fish was seared before plating and this was probably where the fish got overcooked. The mushroom stew was completely over-seasoned, and it was all you could taste of the dish after a couple of spoonfuls. I assumed that the belly would throw the richness of the dish completely overboard before eating it, but to my surprise, the belly had a sweet glaze, which actually played off the savory notes of the dish beautifully. Unfortunately, there was a lot more mushroom stew than there was belly, and the dish was quickly off balance again. To my surprise, there was a hidden veal sweetbread hidden under the fish. Personally, I have no problems eating offal, but I can imagine some who would be quite upset to discover sweetbreads in a fish course, I pointed this out to the waitress, who responded that it was intentionally placed there to surprise the diner, hmm.. Regardless, the surprise addition of the sweetbread completely pushed the dish into a different direction, it was like going to an engineering class and discovering that your professor is about to give the class a surprise quiz on stem cell research, everyone is bewildered and noone is happy. While there were times when the dish worked for me, overall it was much too convoluted. Bad

   

KUROBUTA STEAK FRITES
Dehyrdated Yukon & Cheese | Heirloom Vegetables | Mission Fig Ketchup

I was quite taken aback by the amount of food in this dish, easily the most bang for buck choice in their set lunch menu. This is basically Kurobuta pork shoulder, cooked sous vide, then finished on the grill. The grill must have been at quite a high temperature, because the meat stayed moist and tender, with no cook ‘rings’ around the edge of the meat. I found the pork to be slightly under-salted, but when eaten together with the fig ketchup, it was perfect, very intelligent seasoning. The strong char on the pork from the grill gave it a distinct smoky aroma, as well as slight bitterness that again, worked nicely together with the sweetness of the ketchup. Im not sure why the yukon was referred to as “frites” since they were more similar to chips. A solid, safe dish, but not particularly boundary pushing. Okay

   
360 BRÛLÉE TEXTURE
Caramel Custard Foam | Salted Maple | Valrhona Equatoriale
I was not entirely sure what to make of this dish, the name seemed to point in the direction of a modern take of a creme brulee, but what arrived was basically a chocolate pots de creme, with a salted maple layer sitting atop of it, and a custard foam to top it off. The only flavor profile that reminiscent of a creme brulee was the custard foam, everything tasted foreign. Despite the inconsistencies with expectations, the dessert was delicious- the chocolate creme(55%) had carried the flavour of chocolate through the custard and maple well, the foam had a nice body to it. The main technical fault was that the mouse was either not strained properly, or did not freeze right, because there were distinct lumps in it. The dish has a striking resemblance to Le Bernardin’s “Egg” dish, right down to the layers- Bernardin’s consists of a milk chocolate Pots de creme(55% as well), caramel foam, maple syrup, and maldon sea salt. The dish was also plated with dehydrated mandarin oranges, which doesnt sound like much, but tasted amazing. Okay
COMPOSITION OF FRUITS 
Coconut Palm Sorbet | Sudachi Lime Curd | Peppered Tropics | Dehydrated lychee
The coconut sorbet wasn’t too intensely flavored, and its muted flavors worked well with the peppered pineapple(the pepper revealed itself at the end of the dish). There was a freshness about the dish with all its acidic notes, but the lime curd was slightly overcooked and had a gummy texture. Quite unfortunate because it was difficult to get past, seeing as to how it formed the base for the dish. Okay
Overall, I had a pleasant meal at Keystone, this is going to sound incredibly greedy, but my lunch at Keystone(at 2pm) was my first meal of the day, and I opted to have 2 lunch sets by myself. Yes, I literally ate everything that I’ve just posted by myself. Somewhere along the Kurobuta dish, I was ready to give up, I could feel lethargy starting to creep in and a belly starting to form; instead I pushed on and by the end of the meal, I was pretty glad that I got to try quite a few dishes. The strengths of the restaurant clearly lie in their starters, lots of innovation and creativity flowing through both dishes- many subtle, delicate flavors interplaying with one another.
The mains came out with lesser, but more distinct, stronger flavors, unfortunately the Norwegian Flat White dish wasn’t well executed and didn’t work for me. Desserts brought the creativity back a notch, I loved the use of the dehydrated fruits, it brings about a familiar taste in a strange texture, but were let down by the technical aspects of the dish- Lumps in the mousse and overcooked curd.
Service was absolutely top notch, Id go as far as to say that it is on par with a 2 Michelin star restaurant, my server had no problems answering all of my food related questions, although I should also point out that I was the last customer in the restaurant. Chef Mark seems to be genuinely passionate about his food, and wants to educate the general public about it as well, I spoke to one of his sous chefs, who told me that he loves working for chef Mark because he is open to testing out new dishes and embracing new ideas, this is reflected in the food- a lot of flavor memories and profiles borrowed from different cuisines, Japanese, American, French. At its core they are all strong flavors, but slightly let down by finesse and execution. I personally think that the direction the restaurant has taken is a sound one, although my criticism is that they should cut down on the number of dishes in their repertoire and iron out the nooks and crannies of each dish. For those wanting to try Keystone for lunch, do note that parking in the area is a bitch.
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Home Cooked

Sous Vide turduckloin and a Christmas dinner

During christmas of 2010, I made a sous vide beef wellington with duck fat mashed potatoes for my family, a year later, I had the ridiculous and ambitious idea of cooking a christmas feast for a bunch of friends. I have had it in my mind to make a sous vide version of the turducken for quite some time, but I never got around to doing it, Christmas seemed to be a perfect excuse to cook it, seeing as to how I would need an army to finish the beast. But because I have a strong inability to follow recipes word for word- I often try to add in some component that will make it a little more challenging, I eventually settled on stuffing a beef tenderloin in a chicken in a duck in a turkey, oh, and of course, there would have to be bacon in there somewhere.

First try with meat glue. No bueno

String fixes everything, trust me, Im an engineer 

Figuring out the turduckenloin was a lot more complex than I thought. I wanted to cook as many components using sous vide as possible. After thinking long and hard about it, doing mini experiments- including one with meat glue, my final plan would be- starting from the inside out, I would sous vide the beef medium rare, sear it, and then freeze it. After which I would sew(meat glue just wasn’t strong enough) the chicken around the tenderloin, sous vide the chicken to about 62C, freeze the chicken/tenderloin, then sew it into the duck, sous vide the duck to 60C, then immediately wrap it in a crisp bacon wave and sew the duck/chicken/tenderloin into a turkey, before finally roasting it in an oven. This would mean that the oven only needs to cook the turkey, not the duck layer onwards, making sure that most components would remain moist and evenly cooked. If course, this was only the plan I had for the dish, there would be many issues I did not and could not forsee.

 Baconga Veneta Fall/Winter 2011

I’m on PETA’s most wanted list

Since I had made the offer to cook for everyone, I needed other dishes for the feast as well. About a month before Christmas, I decided on four: The turduckenloin, sous vide beef shortrib tacos(with grilled corn salsa), macaroni and cheese topped with pulled pork, and brownies. This was going to be quite a huge task, on top of that, I am in no way ‘organized’ in the kitchen, which is somewhat embarrassing considering that I am an engineer and people have this impression that I am very methodological(sorry to disappoint). I often have 4-5 different things running around in my head at the same time and I knew that I would be restricted by equipment- I have one oven that barely fit the turkey I bought, and the container I use to Sous Vide can only hold the size of a duck, figuring out how I would put out 4 warm dishes at the same time was going to be a challenge.  Hence, for the first time since starting cooking, I worked out a timeline that i needed to follow to make sure that the food would go out as planned

Saturday 

Buy ingredients(Short Ribs, turkey, etc)

Prepare reduced red wine sauce(mirepoix, bouquet garni, red wine, worcheshire sauce, BBQ sauce, green tea powder, liquid smoke, cumin, thyme, garlic), then freeze

Sunday

begin defrosting turkey

Dust shortribs with cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, Mexican oregano, vacuum seal with frozen red wine sauce. Cook at 71.2C for 2 days

Tuesday

Remove shortribs and slice thinly, place into ziploc bag with some residual sauce and rapid chill. Then freeze

Wednesday

Purchase pork shoulder and misc other things

Purchase beef tenderloin, season with olive oil + beef stock cube, vacuum seal and cook at 56C for 2 hours. Then remove, pay dry, sear over high heat in garlic/thyme olive oil. Let rest, place in sous vide bag, seal, rapid chill and freeze

Debone entire turkey, reserve bones, freeze meat

Thursday 

Coat pork shoulder in flour, salt, brown sugar, sear in truffle oil

Braise pork shoulder (130C for 4 hours) in mushroom stock and root beer, with fennel, onion, star anise, brown sugar, bouquet garni, button mushrooms, carrots, stock cube. Remove, shred, freeze with some reduced braising liquid

Friday

Collect chicken and duck

Debone both birds, reserve bones. Place frozen tenderloin in deboned chicken, meat glue and sew shut. Chill overnight

Begin defrosting turkey in the fridge

Saturday

Roast chicken bones, pressure cook to create stock. Reduce stuck to intensify it. Then chill

Make brine for the turkey, let it chill

Sunday

Sous vide the chicken and tenderloin, drain liquid, then rapid chill and place in fridge

Meat glue duck, sew shut

Make brownie batter, place in fridge

Cook stuffing

Grill corn, mix in mint, chill

Brine the turkey in an orange scented brine

Monday

sous vide duck,chicken,tenderloin

Bake brownies(might need to move to Sunday)

Make bacon weave

Reheat stuffing

Cook Mac and cheese

Butter Breadcrumbs

Reheat shortribs and pulled pork

Combine bacon weave, stuffing, duck/chicken/tenderloin with the turkey, begin roasting

Finish Mac and cheese w pulled pork

Pulled pork on Mac and Cheese

This dish had alot of ‘firsts’ for me. 2 weeks prior to cooking the meal, I had never deboned a chicken in my life. I had broken down a few chickens(Breaking down: Separating the legs from the breast etc, Deboning: removing all the bone and leaving the meat as a single flat sheet), but never deboned. By Christmas, I had deboned enough chickens to the point where I felt I could debone a chicken blindfolded, hanging upside down and doing sit-ups. And since birds more or less have the same anatomy, I should, in theory, be able to debone the turkey easily, right? Wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for the scumbag that is turkey. Firstly, I bought a giant turkey, weighing in at a good 9lbs, the wing alone was a size of a huge chicken drumstick. When trying to separate the legs or thighs from the carcass, a chefs knife will easily cut through a chicken bone if you don’t hit  the joint at the right  point, but no such luck with a turkey, it’s bones are made of pure titanium and you really have to go at it with a snipers precision, right at its archillis heel(insert the knife between the two bones and wiggle, this point is alot harder to find on a turkey than it sounds) to separate it. This condensed video is about 45 minutes worth of me deboning this monster.

Roasted bones + water = Delicious stock

I’m not gonna write down the full recipe because alot of it was jus adapting and trying to deal with the countless problems I encountered, plus I really wouldn’t wish making this on my worst enemy. The first was discovering that the chicken  I had ordered  was not big enough to sew around the tenderloin that was already cooked, I recalled seeing some much bigger chickens at a nearby supermarket, but the store had already closed by that time, and I was already behind schedule, so I made a quick decision to invert the duck and chicken, the tenderloin would be covered with the duck and I would get a bigger chicken around that.

This monster broke my oven. True story

The duck came out beautifully, and when I begun sewing the chicken around it, of course, I realised it wouldn’t fit. I had a chicken that covered about 3/4 of my duck and I was just staring blankly at it trying to figure out how I managed to convince myself that a duck would fit into a chicken , I suddenly had a eureka moment- why not buy another chicken and  use both chickens to cover the duck?  I seemed to make sense in my head, so out I went to get another chicken, and on it went over the duck. I must have spent a good 45 mins trying to work it out before deciding that if there was ever a time to call it quits, this was it.  I ended up filled the  inside of the turkey with cornbread stuffing, sautéed sausages, fried rice, and two bacon weaves , before roasting the turkey to about 65C.

The works

So how was it? It was good, very impressive for everyone at the table when you cut it into it. But was it worth the effort? Hell no it wasn’t. It’s like a mash up of the bee gees and daft punk, both great on its own, but not so much when combined together(Im waiting for someone to prove me wrong and ruin this analogy).  I’m still glad I  attempted this and sort of managed to pull it off. I wonder what I’ll be making this christmas…

Appetizing-looking food is vastly overrated

PS I sewed the two chickens together with a bunch of leftover stuffing to form some kind of franken-chicken and grilled it. It wasnt pretty but turned out pretty nicely

Frankenchicken. Pretty sure this is one of Neil Gaiman’s characters in his version of hell

Home Cooked

Home Cooked: Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin @ 55.5C

I was recently given a tenderloin(yes my family gives out raw meat as gifts), and I thought it’d be the perfect time to bust out the immersion circulator, seeing as to how it has been neglected during the last few weeks.

I always say a little prayer to the sous vide god before dropping it into the water bath

The grass fed beef tenderloin was seasoned using a beef stock cube, made into a paste with olive oil, and rubbed all over the loin(if it’s good enough for Marco Pierre White, it’s good enough for me). Then vacuum sealed, and allowed to rest overnight. It was then placed into a water batch at 55.5C for 2h and 40 mins, which is 0.5C above medium rare.

Pre-sear sous vide meat looks like a cow that came straight out of chernobyl

After removing from the sous vide bag, the beef was thoroughly dried, and then lightly brushed with English mustard, before dusting with a very thin coating of all purpose flour. Seared on high heat for about 3-4 minutes, then allowed to rest for a good 15 minutes.

The tenderloin post sear. Cheated a little with the flour, but it looks beautiful

I would’ve eaten the whole tenderloin in as a log, but noone wants to see that

Pros: the meat was seasoned very very nicely, and more importantly, it had really penetrated through to the center of the meat, and I like the heat and kick of of mustard to balance out the savory-ness as well. The beef was beautifully cooked medium rare, edge to edge. It should also be noted that the beef held up very well, compared to the previous time when I cooked it at 57C, it retained  more chewiness that I love in steaks, it was a little more moist as well.

Cons: the sinew within the tenderloin didn’t really break down during the cooking process and those bits were pretty chewy and inedible. I dont remember this being a problem the last time i cooked it at 57C. Other than that, the tenderloin was pretty much how I remembered, absolutely perfect. On a side note, I personally prefer the 55.5C tenderloin.

Home Cooked

Home Cooked: Sous Vide Beef Wellington

I’ve always been interested in beef wellington ever since I started watching Gordon Ramsay videos, steak and pastry isn’t a combination thats common where I’m from, but the way Ramsay talks about wellington makes it sound so good, and his constant reminder that you should “never cut wellington too thin, it has to be at least an inch thick” has been stuck in my head ever since. Christmas seemed to be as good an occasion as any to try the dish out, after all, I’ve seen Ramsay cook it, how difficult could it be? I could not have been more mistaken, this dish was riddled with unforseen problems that only present themselves when its too late and you have to compromise. I did, however, turn this into a sous vide dish, it was a match made in heaven.

I failed arts and crafts in school

Prep

– Get a nice piece of beef tenderloin, this is where I met my first problem, on TV, Ramsay uses a perfectly beautiful cylindrical cut of beef. Reality? You’d be lucky to get anything remotely oval in shape. Oh, and it’s alot easier to work with a cut thats less wide (diameter), which of course, I didn’t realise untill I had bought the biggest one I could find.

– Season beef with salt and pepper, sous vide beef. I started out at 55C (medium rare), but pushed it up to 57C after about 1.5hrs because not everyone in my family enjoys overly bloody meat. Total cooking time was approx 4hrs.

– Brush the beef all over with olive oil, then sear it well with a butane torch

– Brush the beef all over with english mustard. English mustard, specifically requested by Ramsay, wellington is an English dish after all, you wouldn’t use none of that Dijon crap would you, you donkey.

– Get the biggest piece of cling wrap you can possibly get your hands on, this is serious business, it will make your life a lot easier. Because of the sheer size of the tenderloin I was using, I had to combine 3 sheets of cling wrap, which made it a lot harder to roll. Lay out Parma ham in a sheet on the cling wrap, to form a sort of plate. (Side note: I bought a really good piece of tenderloin and I was trying to save on the ham, so I used a mixture of bacon and Iberico ham, which I had lying in my fridge. You could use bacon, but be sure to render out as much fat as possible, the oil will seep into the pastry when its baking and make it soggy)

– Blitz mushrooms in a processor, then scrape the paste into a non-stick pan and cook out the liquid. Let the mushroom paste cool before spreading it over the parma ham.

– Place the tenderloin on the mushroom/ham, and roll using the cling film, similar to rolling a ballotine. Twist ends and chill for at least 10-15 mins.

– Roll out pastry dough, remove the cling film from the tenderloin, cover the tenderloin with pastry, sealing the ends with eggwash, brush the entire thing with eggwash before baking, and salt lightly.

– If you did it sous-vide, remember that you only really need to cook the pastry, mine cooked at 220C for about 20 mins, which was longer than I thought it would take, but I think it had something to do with the pastry I was using.

– Let the pastry/tenderloin abomination rest for 10-15 mins before cutting. And cut it at least 1inch thick at least.

Pros

This is a great dish to do sous vide. Look at the photos, the beef is perfectly cooked end to end. It looks a little more uncooked than it really is, it had a much less chewy consistency that I associate with rarer meats than I expected, but I’ll admit that it was very red. Cooking wellington raw also means that you have no way of telling how cooked it is untill you actually cut into it.

– Everything was delicious, the meat drew really great flavours from the mushroom and bacon, it had great depth.

Served with Duck fat-Chive Mashed potatoes

Cons

What a massive pain in the ass this dish was. I’d love to do this again on a smaller scale, but this is quite frustrating when you’re cooking a huge log of meat, having to vacuum seal it, make sure that the water bath is big enough to hold it.

-Sous vide does add a few extra steps to the dish, but it ensures that your meat is perfectly cooked, a small trade off if you ask me.

Uncategorized

Review: Sous Vide app for iPhone

Pros:

Menu is very intuitive and easy to navigate.

There is a surprising large amount information for various cuts of meat and vegetables/fruits, even lesser used cuts such as sweetbreads and pork spleen; and usually 2-3 different combinations of temperature and time for each cut.

You have the ability to add a certain cut to your ‘favourites’ menu, making it easier to select, say…. “pork belly’ almost instantly, if for some strange reason you want to cook pork belly everyday for a week.

It costs S$1.99, which is pretty cheap for a wealth of sous vide information.

Lots of good background information like food safety, intro(how sous vide is beneficial), a ‘how to use this app’ section(pretty similar to the intro), and sous vide resources (mainly the more infamous sous vide links). Although to be fair, all of this can be read on 1-2 webpages online.

Some pretty informative writeups on different cuts of meat, such as chicken breast; talking about how well it benefits from the sous vide technique, the difference in textures between cooking it high and short, and low and slow. (Not all cuts have such informative writeups, more on this later)

There is a tiny column for you to add your own notes underneath each cut of meat

Cons:

The menu is very minimalistic, which isn’t a bad thing for me, but some may find the application a little ‘visually bland’

In the rare instances that they use photos in the app, the photos aren’t very appealing or flattering to the food

As I mentioned earlier, some cuts of meat have very informative writeups, while the majority of others use a pretty standard template, meaning they don’t really describe how the different temperatures and cooking times affect the outcome of the meat, which I personally think is the most valuable information.

Overall:

I was pleasantly surprised with this application to be honest, I had expected minimal information on the more common cuts of meat, but there is quite an extensive list provided with the application. Everyone seems to have a different idea on which temperature and time combination to use for any particular cut of meat, and each yields vastly different results. This application takes out the searching element for you, it tells you the possible combinations; but where it falls short is telling you how each combination affects the outcome of the meat. You often get combination headings like “Rare”, “Ideal”,  and “Traditional”, which seem pretty cryptic because everyones intrinsic value to what “ideal” and “traditional” should be can be completely different. Very often when I’m cooking sous vide and Im tasting the final product, I know its good, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m doing it right- Yes this is a delicious duck confit, but is this what the duck is supposed to taste like after being cooked at 75C for 9 hours? The application lacks the information to clear this up.

Also, while most of the temperature/time combos I agree with, some seem to jump out in a bad way. “Rare” chicken breast is cooked at 57.8C for 1-4 hours, that strikes me as being incredibly low and unsafe. Every blog that I’ve been to on sous vide has never gone below the 60.0C mark for chicken, it really makes me wonder where the app is getting their combinations from.

That being said, $1.99 is a very small price to pay for all the temp/time combinations provided, if you’re too lazy to run a google search for that cut of meat you are about to cook, and cross check cooking temperatures and times between 4-5 blogs, then this app is definitely for you.

 

Home Cooked

Sous Vide Garoupa @ 60.5C

It’s been a while. I’ve been committed to serving my country and it has completely drained my energy and willingness to get into the kitchen, but I haven’t stopped having ideas and questions about food. The most prominent ideas I’ve been toying with in my head involve using Sous Vide to recreate Asian dishes-Asian Flavours infused into meats, then cooked sous vide.

Seeing a gigantic garoupa at the wet market, I knew that this was a prefect place to start. As far as I remember, salmon is the only fish I’ve cooked sous vide, at a very very low temperature, to a texture unlike anything that can be achieved through normal cooking. But there are some who find its texture disconcerting, and I completely understand why. So I decided to go with the highest temperature listed in the Sous Vide Guide for fish – 60.5C.

Prep:

Roughly chop peeled ginger, peeled garlic cloves, and spring onions

– Add sesame oil to pan and lightly saute ginger, garlic, spring onions. Add Thai fish sauce, Thai lime juice, light soy sauce, teaspoon of sugar, 2-3 small chillis, and a handful of chye poh(Salted radish)

– Blend everything into a paste

– Rub the paste all over the fish, and into its flesh

– Sous vide the whole fish with lime leaves, let flavors infuse

– Cook at 60.5C, time depends on size of the fish, mine took about 3 hours.

– Soak more chye poh in water, drain, dry as much as possible, then deep fry

– Remove liquid in sous vide bag when the fish is done, bring to a boil and it reduce a little, then mix in some sesame oil

– Serve fish with sauce, garnish with spring onions and fried chye poh

What? Negative marks for presentation?

Pros:

Fish was beautifully soft and moist, falling off the bone. The paste gave the fish very refreshing flavour, with acidity of the lime juice and freshness of the ginger, but it was delicate enough not to overpower the natural taste of the fish. Cooking it at 60.5C yielded the shortest cooking time possible, and cooking such a gigantic fish sous vide made it easier to deal with(Rather than moving the fish around in a pan, which agitates the flesh, moving it in a sous vide bag ensured that the fish didnt break apart, and when ready to serve, the bag is simply cut, and the fish is slid out)

Cons:

Despite being pleased with the texture of the fish, it didn’t really offer much difference from the steamed garoupas Ive had at Chinese restaurants, maybe thats somewhat of a compliment to my sous vide fish, but I guess I was expecting something a little more from the technique. Also, I found that the fish was cooked a little unevenly, the head portion was a little undercooked, the middle was perfect, and the tail was overcooked. A possible explanation for the undercooked head is, heat transfer is a lot slower through air, between the hollowed out portion between the head and the body. The tail being overcooked is pretty self explanatory, but it does highlight the importance on how long you leave your food cooking sous vide, as it can get overcooked. Possible future experiments: Sous vide Garoupa at lower temps? Maybe in the 58.0C range

Sous Vide Garoupa served with Crab and Olive Fried Rice



Home Cooked

Home Cooked: A Tale of two Ducks (confit)

I’m just going to cut straight to the chase because this is mainly for my own reference.

Prep:

– Brine duck thighs 7% Brine, consisting of orange juice, orange zest, a lot of dried thyme, some dried rosemary, garlic, a splash of liquid smoke, for a total of about 6 hours

– Remove and pat dry, vacuum seal with a tablespoon of fat

– One batch was cooked in a waterbath at 80C for 9 hours (Baldwin tables)

Other batch was cooked in a waterbath at 75C for 20 hours (Source)

Both ducks were crisped up in a searing hot pan with a little oil

– Duck confit was served with an apple sauce (Microwave chopped apples on high heat for 90 seconds, covered. Then blend with a little ham ju)

80C for 9 hours

Pros: The skin crisped up nicely. This was closer to the texture of a duck confit that I am familiar with

Cons: The meat was tough, I could tell the meat was tough just by touching it when I took it out of the bag. I wouldn’t say the meat was dry, but it was stringy. Also, meat was under seasoned.

Thoughts: Will probably salt liberally before sealing in the vacuum bag the next time, should also use more duck fat because the meat cooks vertically with my setup, 1 tablespoon of fat is not enough to fully submerge the entire leg while it is cooking. A sprig of fresh thyme should also be used, the dried thyme in the brine did not impart sufficient aroma into the meat.

75C for 20 hours

Pros: There was a significant difference in the texture of the meat, while it was still stringy, the meat was a lot more tender and moist. Meat had a nice pinkish center.

Cons: Still, the meat was stringy, I’m trying to think really hard about the last confit I had, which was at Osteria Mozza, it was good, very good, it was stringy but it was so moist and tender at the same time (which is why I said the 80C duck is closer to what a duck confit should be). I may have been expecting too much from the confit but I really thought that it would have that melt in your mouth consistency. The legs lost too much liquid for my liking, but again this could be an issue with the lack of fat in the bag.

Thoughts: More fat. More more more. Also, was 20h really necessary? I felt that a better consistency could be achieved with a shorter time, albeit more rare.