Our Sous Vide adventure continued with a fish course. This time we trusted a very reliable source – Thomas Keller’s Sous Vide Cookbook, Under Pressure.
The recipe was simple. A great piece of tuna sealed with precisely weighed oil – 50% olive oil and 50% canola. There was no final seer and the recipe was quick (14 minutes).
There was a temporary hiccup – the water had to be 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) lower than our pork dish. I was surprised at just how easy this was – two of us worked for a few minutes and had it dialled in very quickly. One of us removed hot water while adding cool water and the other stirred the bath. Stirring was crucial to make sure we didn’t water the entire bath down too far and have to wait for it to come back up to temperature. I figure that raising the temperature could be done as easy as long as you were patient and stirred the water like it was risotto.
The Tuna was sushi grade. I actually felt a little more evil for cooking it at all. I made peace with my soul as we bought it at a great deal and we were, after all, following Keller’s technique. And there’s something to be said for that – I’m not sure that when one of the world’s best chefs tells me to sear something for 30 seconds that I am getting the same results as he (or she). They may have their pan hotter or colder, they may have a better pan, they may use a spatula and I used tongs and so forth… But when it comes to putting an exact weight of tuna with an exact amount of oil in an airtight bag and cook for 14 minutes at an exact temperature; that I can do.
The tuna went in and we waited… After 840 seconds we pulled out the magic bags, emptied the contents and patted them down. It looked just as the master (Keller) prophesied.
We also needed a side. I wasn’t able to build Keller’s recommended architectural plate so I turned to my fondest memory of tuna from the last year – Italian Sashimi that was based on a recipe from Dave Pasternack of Esca in New York City (if you are a fan of raw tuna, click the link). We paired two small side salads featuring our home-grown sprouts and added a dash of lemon, oil and a shaving of cheese.
How was it? Erm.
Mmm. (For the sake of clarity, that was a thinking sound not a licking lips MMM).
Yes, indeed: interesting. I don’t think any of us were sold on it. It was definitely different. It subtly rendered the tuna fat out (there were small globules on the fish as we removed it) and it was cooked with a blush red hue. The texture was different from any I had before and the oil didn’t overpower. But there was something else going on…
An awkward silence filled the room of four (all of us are never shy for words). Our host guests were trying to be polite (we are dear friends usually well past any such formality). Then someone said the thing we were all thinking:
“This kind of reminds me of canned tuna.”
Let us remember that sushi grade tuna, even at a deal, is a long way away from chicken of the sea. But what was said cannot be taken back. Especially when it was somewhat true.
Perhaps I don’t have the sophistication to get it. Maybe the sides that Keller recommends bring this to a new place that I can’t see from where I stand. I certainly don’t question his taste – in fact I’d kind of like to try his version to compare.
I loved the experience but know how I’ll eat my sashimi in the future – raw.
Come around tomorrow for another recipe we attempted and our final experience – it blew us away!