Sous Vide for Dummies
December 6, 2014 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Giftfilter: What's a good introductory book to Sous Vide Cooking?

I made my sister a crockpot sous vide controller. Slight problem, she's never even heard of sous vide. So what's the most useful book I can get for her.
posted by zinon to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am an extremely early adopter of sous vide techniques in the home. My recommendation would be:

Sous Vide for the Home Cook by Douglas Baldwin. He also has a good web site with basic principles of SV cooking and food safety.

And if she has an interest in modern cooking techniques overall:

Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myrvold (also available as an app), which covers sous vide techniques pretty thoroughly.

A crock pot plus ziplock SV setup is fairly limited, IMO, because volume is quite limited and it's not good for the few but very cool things that require very precise temperature control, plus ziplocks are dicey for extra-long (e.g., 48-72 hours) cooking. But it's a great place to start. Do you mind if I ask how much it cost? With versatile, easy to store, full-featured and extremely accurate clip-on circulating heaters from Anova and others retailing at around 200 bucks, I think there is less and less reason to go the DIY crock pot with PID route. But if it's something like fifty bucks, that might make things different.
posted by slkinsey at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2014

Response by poster: This the controller I built, it ran me $31 (plus a few parts I had on hand). I figured cheaper is better, in case she doesn't get hooked.
posted by zinon at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2014

Cool. As I imagine you gathered, the guy in the video was incorrect in consistently referring to the crock pot PID controller as an "immersion circulator," since it neither immersed nor circulated. But thirty bucks sounds like a great "try it and see if you like it" price point. You can certainly do several pork chops or a steak or a few pieces of chicken or fish in there. Personally I would hesitate to do something like extra-long cooked short ribs, and it may be a bit hit or miss with something very temperature sensitive like salmon mi cuit. Still, she can explore many of the cool effects of SV with that setup. Something as simple as chicken breast that is moist and actually tastes like something can be enough to get hooked on SV.

Anyway, I think both the books I recommended are good ones. The Modernist one has lots of other cool techniques, too.
posted by slkinsey at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2014

I have the Baldwin book and it is technically impeccable, as far as I can tell. It's not really written in "foodie" speak, which is both a strength and a weakness. It's more "sous-vide for engineers." I really liked the explanations of food safety issues and some specific concepts. That said, now that I'm comfortable with s-v cooking, I only ever open it to check his time/temperature recommendations. For ideas and recipes, I use the interwebs.

I've borrowed Modernist Cuisine at Home, and it's amazing and incredibly fun to look at. I would never spend the money to own it, and it spent its time in my house far away from the kitchen and possible damage. You could by a good home immersion circulator, a blow torch, and a few other fun tools for the price of this book.

If your sister is really completely new to sous vide, then actually some internet videos, perhaps backed up by Baldwin's reassuring text, is the way to go. Nice gift, btw. Be sure to emphasize that s-v has as much potential as a convenience technique as it does as a "fancy" cooking approach.
posted by Mngo at 5:29 AM on December 7, 2014

I've very much enjoyed ChefSteps' online videos. Their online intro to sous vide class is free. Their intermediate class is $20. The combo of those two courses has been more useful to me than any SV book. If your sister is more of a cookbook type of person however, I second the recommendation for the Baldwin book.
posted by a complicated history at 1:50 PM on December 7, 2014

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