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Too many chefs in the kitchen turn the broth into gelatinous capsules
July 12, 2007 1:32 PM   Subscribe

DIY Food Sci: Mefites have discussed molecular gastronomy techniques such as sous-vide and famous practitioners such as El Bulli (photos) or Alinea (review), but apartment chemists are experimenting both with the chemical and the physical techniques of the pros. An anti-griddle cooktop may run you $1060, but cheaper tools of the trade can be found online or in your neighborhood health food store. Find perfect flavor and odor matches based on similar amines at Khymos.org, inspiration at Hungry in Hogtown, or learn about the common chemicals used, but don't let the Man keep you from your hot ice cream and kumquat caviar again.
posted by artifarce (19 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I didn't want to link to vendors, but some are listed in the first article for those curious.
posted by artifarce at 1:34 PM on July 12, 2007


You too can be Clark Griswold.
posted by caddis at 1:46 PM on July 12, 2007


And don't forget the Exotic Ingredients!
posted by squalor at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cardboard! I knew there had to be some secret ingredient that made those damn pork buns so tasty!
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2007


The anti-griddle reminds me of the coldplate at the bottom of a soda fountain. I'd bet you could hack one up with an old fridge, some antifreeze and cleverness.
posted by Skorgu at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2007


squalor: I used to like those buns, you know. Thanks.
posted by artifarce at 2:35 PM on July 12, 2007


I was kinda hoping that the anti-griddle would suspend the food above a heat source in some sort of electromagnetic "anti-gravity" bubble. Looks likes my pan-less kitchen is still a decade or two away.
posted by Iridic at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2007


It fools the average person.
posted by motty at 2:46 PM on July 12, 2007


I do sous-vide at home frequently. You can just use a ziploc bag and get a very good vacuum-seal by placing it within a second bag, and placing that bag underwater. We did this for marinades a long time before anyone told us it was cutting-edge.

You can also approximate (though very crudely) a thermal-immersion circulator with a pot of water in a reasonably precise oven. Seal duck legs in bag, set oven to 180, place in pot of hot water, cover, leave overnight.... perfect duck confit every time. I will never cook it the "traditional" way again, as this way there's zero cleanup... just drop the hot bag into cold water, and put it in the fridge till it's eating time. (Or jar it if you want to keep it for a while.) The really awesome part is you don't need any extra fat than the duck legs themselves have on them; just peel some skin off, render that, put it in the bag... a few tablespoons is plenty. Low fat duck confit? Well, relatively speaking...

You can do this with any foodstuff you intend to cook into obliteration, also known as "well done". (Don't scowl, there's plenty of cuts that are simply too tough to eat any less done: pork belly, brisket, shoulder, etc) The hard part is doing stuff to medium-rare/rare; that's where you need the digital thermometer and circulating bath, as precision is demanded... and I'm not quite about to blow money and counterspace on that, when I can do well enough with a pan or grill. Finally, always go REALLY easy on the seasoning, vacuumed stuff gets incredibly flavorful.
posted by mek at 3:25 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


So what you're saying is that I can make bacon noodles for my spaghetti carbonara? Awesome.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:44 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm going to go ahead and vote nay on the chocolate and mushroom combination. It just doesn't work. Don't ask.
posted by invitapriore at 5:23 PM on July 12, 2007


That would be an AskMe question, but are there other mefites appreciating Alton Brown parascientific approach to cooking ? I'd love to learn more about the "scientific" aspects of cooking !
posted by elpapacito at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2007


Alton Brown is such an amateur scientist. If you like scientific cooking you need "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee.
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on July 12, 2007


The wee pancakes I had cooked on an "anti-griddle" were fun. Tiny and frozen and fun.
posted by pinky at 3:07 AM on July 13, 2007


mek sez: I do sous-vide at home frequently. You can just use a ziploc bag ...

Warning: Ziploc says DON'T use their bags for sous-vide.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2007


Hmm. Food Saver's website (vacuum packaging system) also says that while you can microwave foods in the package, not to cook raw foods in it. And it sounds like if the food isn't frozen, boiling causes the bag to split.

I'm going to go ahead and vote nay on the chocolate and mushroom combination

So that's no on truffle truffles?
posted by artifarce at 9:00 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


For those interested in sous vide, there is a great discussion going on about the subject over at egullet.org: Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment
posted by marcelm at 10:37 AM on July 13, 2007


Warning: Ziploc says DON'T use their bags for sous-vide.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:53 AM on July 13 [+] [!]


Of course not... they haven't done any testing. I'm living on the wild side, but there's no evidence either way. You're not supposed to use the home-solution foodsaver stuff either, only extremely high-end products actively endorse their products for sous-vide. Thermal immersion circulators were not made for your kitchen counter, either.

General health concerns surrounding sous-vide.


Hmm. Food Saver's website (vacuum packaging system) also says that while you can microwave foods in the package, not to cook raw foods in it. And it sounds like if the food isn't frozen, boiling causes the bag to split.

You should never achieve a boiling temperature when using sous-vide. 74 degrees Celsius is well-done and sufficient to kill bacteria, 100 degrees Celsius is massive overkill for any meat. The key technique of sous-vide is that the internal temperature is simply brought to match the external temperature, so overcooking is impossible, and you can consequently hold food at the final temperature for hours or even days to continue chemical reactions that create tenderization without overcooking.
posted by mek at 12:20 AM on July 24, 2007


ZIPLOCĀ® brand Bags are made from polyethylene plastic with a softening point of approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

195 degrees is hotter than sous-vide should ever get when cooking meat. It's certainly a matter of precision, though. :)
posted by mek at 12:22 AM on July 24, 2007


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