Midnight Snack Video: Cooking Sous Vide – Beyond the Basics

We’re thrilled to introduce our newest class, Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics. 
You’ll master crackle-topped Créme Brûlée, and impossibly rich Chicken Liver Paté, plus learn how to transform cheap meat cuts into flavor-packed steaks. Take your sous vide skills to the next level and take full advantage of this transformative cooking technique. We’re offering a 45% discount on enrollment to the class for the weekend—just $9 through 11:59 PM PST on Monday, December 1, 2014.


Share the Midnight Snack Video with your friends. Join our culinary community for recipes and techniques, lively discussion, and the latest news from ChefSteps.

5 Common Misconceptions About Sous Vide Cooking

In the past few years, sous vide cooking—already ubiquitous in fine-dining restaurants—has gained a foothold in home kitchens as well. That’s thanks to newly affordable equipment and cameos on TV shows like The Simpsons and Adventure Time, along with the publication of groundbreaking books such as Modernist Cuisine and Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure.

But despite the technique’s rocketing popularity, it’s still plagued by many-a-misconception. Below, we debunk five common myths surrounding sous vide. Still have questions? Please share them in the comments.

1. “Sous vide” means “under vacuum,” and that means I need to pony up for an expensive, space-hogging chamber-style vacuum sealer if I want to try it.

Yes, “sous vide” is French for “under vacuum.” And yes, it’s a very confusing name. Because in fact, you don’t need a pricey vacuum sealer—or even an inexpensive countertop one—to successfully cook food at a low temperature in a water bath. To get started with sous vide, regular-old ziplock-style bags will do just fine. In fact, in some applications they are preferable to vacuum-sealed bags. Use the simple water displacement method (instructions in sidebar here) to remove the air from the bags, then get cooking.


2. Okay, but I still need to buy pricey sous vide equipment.

It’s true that cooks who regularly cook sous vide often opt to invest in an immersion circulator or SousVide Supreme bath. In the last few years, however, a number of affordable models have emerged for home use. (Popular Science has published a helpful roundup of those). And if you’re just looking to test the method out, you can improvise a sous vide setup with nothing more than a pot, a stove, a digital thermometer, and some plastic bags. Allow us to show you how.


3. I don’t need a circulator to get started, got it—that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not safe to cook food in plastic bags.

According to the latest research, the safest plastics for use with food are high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene. Virtually all sous vide bags are made from these plastics (the inner layer of nearly all sous vide bags is polyethylene). And most name-brand food storage bags and plastic wraps such as Ziploc and Saran Wrap are also made from safe plastics like polyethylene.

Now, other plastics that may be in your kitchen, such as inexpensive, bulk plastic wraps (still commonly made from polyvinyl chloride or polyvinylidene chloride), can contain harmful plasticizers that have been shown to leach into fatty foods such as cheese and meat. Legitimate concerns exist about food exposed to these plastics at higher temperatures—when you microwave food wrapped in plastic, for instance. Spend a little extra on one of the brand-name options, and you will be good to go.

Half_Candied Blood Orange_5

4. But why do I need a whole new cooking technique just to get tender steak, fish, and chicken?

People unfamiliar with sous vide often think it’s only useful for preparing proteins. While all three of those foods taste great cooked sous vide, there are so many more delicious options. Our gallery of sous vide recipes should provide you with plenty of further inspiration.

Carrots and Perfect Yolk-ChefSteps

5. Alright, ChefSteps. I’m convinced this could be a good way to go when I have plenty of time on my hands, but for day-to-day use, my trusty old oven is way more efficient.

We often reach for the circulator when it’s time to give tough cuts the slow-and-low treatment, but we also prepare sous vide mashed potatoes in 45 minutes flat, and fish, steak, and chicken usually cook in under an hour. And remember, instead of staring hopelessly into your oven window, hoping that chicken breast hasn’t turned to stringy shoe leather, you can allow food to cook largely unattended, safe in the knowledge that results will be predictable every time—and freeing you to focus on other things. Like, say, what you’re going to whip up next.

Join the ChefSteps community to get free access to the best resources for sous-vide cooking on the web, share recipes and tips with other enthusiastic cooks, and get the first word on new recipes and techniques.

10 Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Cook Sous Vide

Flourless Carrot Cake ChefSteps

Thinking about investing in sous vide equipment for your kitchen? Here at ChefSteps, we’re unabashed fans—we love the way sous vide requires little micromanagement, and predictably cooks all sorts of food. Sous vide recipes you find online tend to focus on steak and fish—two excellent options—but when it comes to cooking in a water bath, proteins are just the beginning. Read on for 10 of our favorite unexpected uses for sous vide. Got faves of your own? Go ahead and share them in the comments

1. Custards

Yup, you can prepare crème brûlée and other custardy desserts sous vide. We use it to create the carrot custard for our Flourless Carrot Cake—a sous vide recipe that’s gluten-free and about as modernist as they come.

Get the recipe: Flourless Carrot Cake


2. Purées

We like making purées well in advance—cooking them in a circulator is often the simplest way to do so. When it comes time to reheat them, it’s much easier to warm them in a sous vide bath than on the stovetop, where uneven heating sometimes means the purée near the heat is getting scorched while the portion near the surface is barely warm.

Get the recipe: Celery Root Purée


3. Burgers

Think we’re crazy for publishing a sous vide burger recipe? Don’t knock it ’til you’ve served a bunch of perfect patties to a large group, no grill-manning required.

Get the recipe: Beef Burger Patties


4. Flavored oils 

Got a recipe that calls for a flavored oil, but don’t want to pony up the cash for something you’ll probably only use once or twice? Make it at home instead. We cook flavored oil for three hours in a sous vide bath—yes, that’s far longer than most stovetop infusions call for, but the precise low temperature results in a flavorful oil that will keep for months.

Get the recipe: Thyme Oil


5. Cheese curds

Super-geeky, yet also super-great: using a SousVide Supreme to make your own squeaky cheese curds. You’ll need some funny ingredients, but how cool is it to be crafting curds like a pro in your own kitchen? And teachers, this would make an awesome classroom activity.

Get the recipe: Squeaky Cheese Curds


6. French fries

For these crispy-soft fries, we use a triple-cooking process made famous by British chef Heston Blumenthal. Once you recreate them at home, you’ll see why the method has set a new standard by which the world’s greatest French fries are judged.

Get the recipe: Thin-Cut French Fries


7. Mashed potatoes

Think cooking sous vide means waiting a long time for your food? Well, er, often it does. But here’s an exception—you can make these rich, creamy mashed potatoes (or pomme purée, as chefs and French people call them) in 45 minutes flat.

Get the recipe: Pomme Purée


8. Oysters

Weird but true: You can use sous vide to help you shuck oysters! Blanching oysters in a water bath at 140 °F / 60 °C for just a few minutes makes them easy to open. Time it right, and the oyster won’t cook but will wind up with a gorgeous plump appearance and an appealing firm texture that heightens their freshness. And because this technique makes it easy to pop the oyster open, you’re less likely to end up with shell debris floating in the salty brine surrounding the oyster.

Get the technique: Firming oysters


9. Stock

Using sous vide equipment to make stocks gives us the ultimate temperature control—for the richest, flavor-forward broth, we like to cook ours for a full day when time allows.

Get the recipe: Beef Stock


10. Eggnog

Yup, not even this most traditional of holiday libations is safe from our relentless need to sous vide everything. But seriously, that time of year has enough stresses—instead of slaving over your egg-and-booze beverage, drop it in the bath and occupy yourself with the million other tasks at hand.

Get the recipe: Eggnog

Join the ChefSteps community to get access to more than 100 sous vide recipes, talk sous vide with other enthusiasts on our lively forum, and get the first word on exciting new recipes, videos, and techniques. 

Seasonal Inspiration:
Eight Things to Do with Salmon

Salmon Bites ChefSteps

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re just a wee bit obsessed with salmon—particularly at this time of year. When you buy it fresh at a trusty fish counter, there’s no end to what you can do with a gorgeous hunk of sockeye or chinook. In the warm months, grilled salmon makes for a lovely light dinner. But if you’re burnt out on the cedar plank, we’ve got ideas to inspire you all year long.

Unsure about how to select the best fish? Consult our video for tips on seafood shopping, then move on to our handy salmon butchering tutorial. After that, it’s time to get cooking. Oh, and should questions arise, please pose them in the comments. We’re always here to help—and, (you may have already noticed), we do love talking about salmon.

1. Pass it around

Cancel the caterer. Your guests will be über-impressed to learn you made these elegant Salmon Bites all by your lonesome. Brined, cooked at a low temperature, then chilled overnight, the fish takes on a dense, rich texture. Augment with watercress purée, pickled onion, and Horseradish Cream and serve as an amuse-bouche before brunch or a passed snack at your next garden party.


2. Roll on

Master our technique for Fish Roulade, and you’ll use it time and time again when you need a fancy, yet foolproof, seafood preparation. Our favorite way to serve salmon roulade? Quickly seared and dressed in Piccata Sauce.

3. Discover the cure

Loving curing meats? You must see how expediently this Quick-Cured Salmon method turns raw fish into something toothsome and full of flavor.

4. Chop it up

Topped with fresh chervil and a few orbs of ikura roe, our handsome Salmon Tartare classes up an outdoor dinner and showcases the awesome fresh fish available this time of year.


5. Perfect your plating

Looking to bone up on your plating skills? Use our lemon oil–enhanced Salmon Crudo recipe to help you master the basics of composing the sort of sexy dish you find in fine-dining restaurants.

6. Have a smoke

To make Salmon Pastrami, brine your fish in our signature brine, give it a good rub, then smoke it to bring out that savory-sweet flavor. Mmmm…salmon candy.


7. Wait it out

Our PNW Salmon requires some planning—you’ll need to make the Salmon Katsuobushi months in advance—but it is So. Very. Worth it.

8. Explore modern cooking techniques

The dish that launched ChefSteps, our Salmon 104 °F is a great way to begin exploring modernist techniques and walks you through the steps of creating one of our all-time prettiest plates.

final_dish_salmon 104Click here to check out other salmon recipes, or upload your own by clicking “Add Recipe.”


ChefSteps Forum | Cook Something Liquid from Something Solid


Grant Crilly’s Culinary Challenge 8 on the ChefSteps forum last week instructed participants to create a savory or sweet liquid dish (soups, shooters, cocktails, desserts, etc.) from one that is normally solid. Forum members were encouraged to use sous vide infusions, blenders, strainers, centrifuges, or any other clarification techniques that they could think of. We had some great posts describing the process behind developing some of the dishes, which is one of our favorite aspects of sharing information on our forum.

Grant, Chris and Ryan each picked their favorite dishes to feature on our Pinterest board.

Grant Crilly: My favorite entry this week was Johan Edstrom’s Asparagus Soup. I loved the agar filtration technique and the subtle marketing message that he included in the photo. Nice!


Chris Young: I chose new forum member Maria’s Har Gao/Xiao Long Baos. I am passionate about XLB and hope that Maria will continue experimenting with additional versions of the dish. I also want to give an honorable mention to Tim Sutherland for his great backstory on the Curdled Chunky Warm Fish Head Milkshake.

Ryan Matthew Smith: I picked Brian Douglas’ Scotch Eggs as my favorite this week. The vibrant color of the Sriracha really pops against the egg yolk.


We are retooling the Culinary Challenge within the next few days and will make an announcement with the new format and schedule on the forum as soon as possible.

As always, we’re thrilled to have new members joining the forum and participating in the challenges. Please share with your interested friends, as we extend our culinary community.

Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team

ChefSteps Forum | Cooking with Coffee


Grant Crilly issued Culinary Challenge 7 last week on the ChefSteps forum. The objective was to prepare a dish—savory or sweet—utilizing sous vide techniques and coffee.

Grant, Chris and Ryan each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Grant Crilly: My favorite entry this week was Brian Douglas’ Sous Vide Coffee Panna Cotta. It was a great use of 4 simple components.I also appreciated that he originally tackled a blown sugar technique. Way to go, Brian!


Chris Young: New forum members Tim Sutherland and Andrew E both did really great work this week. I voted for Tim’s Coffee and Cigarette because of the extensive sharing he did of his entire development process. We’d love to see more of this kind of open source collaboration. Nicely done, Tim!


Ryan Matthew Smith: My pick this week is Andrew E’s Coffee Butter Poached Sous Vide Scallop Salad. Excellent arrangement on the plate and a great perspective on the the shot, plus it looks delicious!

We’re thrilled to have new members joining the forum and participating in the challenge—looking forward to seeing new creations and processes as are your fellow forum members!

I have posted Grant Crilly’s Culinary Challenge 8 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge is to make a savory or sweet liquid dish (soups, shooters, cocktails, desserts, etc.) that is normally solid. Use sous vide infusions, blenders, strainers, centrifuges (we are using ours for sure) or any other clarification techniques that you can think of. Consider using essential oils to create clear and interesting drinks and soups. You can have multiple layers based on densities, solids as garnishes and whatever else you can dream of.

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 picks (sometimes we have a tie) will have the photos of their dishes posted on the ChefSteps Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. Good luck!

Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team

ChefSteps Forum | Almost Like Grandma Used to Make


We asked Johan Edstrom, one of our most prolific forum members, to issue last week’s Culinary Challenge 6 on the ChefSteps forum. The objective was to cook something that your grandmother would have cooked and give it an update. Use new tools and techniques, juxtapose something old with something new, or simply plate your grandmother’s cooking in a contemporary way.

Johan, Chris and Grant each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Johan Edstrom: My favorite entry this week was Chris Koller’s Succotash. I liked the plate, the colors, and I wanted to eat it right away.


Chris Young: I chose Joshua Sharp’s modernist take on Salisbury Steak. It was a great nostalgic food idea, and it looks well executed.

Grant Crilly: My fave was Brian Douglas’ Better than Nintendo Cake. I cracked up at the story of the “Better than Nintendo Cake” name and it’s something that I haven’t seen before.

If you’re new to the forum and you haven’t participated in one of the culinary challenges, please join in this week. We’re eager to see your creations and so are your fellow forum members!

Grant has posted Culinary Challenge 7 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge is Something Coffee. Prepare a dish — savory or sweet — utilizing sous vide techniques and coffee. For example, consider using coffee for an infusion, broth, rub, smoking media, or a textural component. Your idea can be coffee anything!

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 picks (sometimes we have a tie) will have the photos of their dishes posted on the ChefSteps Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. We’re looking forward to being heavily caffeinated (as usual) while we enjoy your entries.

Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps Forum | Around the World in 8 Days


Chris Young issued last week’s Culinary Challenge 5 on the ChefSteps forum. The objective was to embrace the spirit of being a novice by trying to cook another culture’s cuisine using both traditional and modernist techniques.

Our forum members took up the challenge to push their skills and posted some compelling dishes. Chris, Grant and Ryan each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Chris Young: My favorite entry this week is Chris Koller’s Spanakopita with Homemade Sous Vide Tzatziki. I wouldn’t have thought of doing a Greek entry and now that I’ve seen it, I think it’s brilliant. Looks absolutely delicious; contemporary and nostalgic at the same time. Well done, Chris!

Grant Crilly: I also chose Chris Koller’s Spanakopita. That sh*t looks bomb! Super beautiful filo, as a chef I like the way he pulled from existing tried and true recipes so he could focus on his newer technique alone. Smart. It rarely works out to try ten new things at once. it’s very difficult to learn that way. One focused step at a time is the way to go!


Ryan Matthew Smith: I chose Brian Douglas’ Groudnut Porridge with Plum and Kashata this week. I like his composition and clean presentation, plus it looks delicious.

We were all really impressed with the dishes that were submitted. Honorable mentions go out to Nor’Eastern for taking on the challenge of spherification with Soy Caviar and to Jim for making us drool with his Sous Vide Octopus Salad.

Chris Young has posted Culinary Challenge 6 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge was offered up by Johan Edstrom, one of our most active forum members. The objective is to cook something that your grandmother would have cooked, but give it an update. Take advantage of new tools and techniques, juxtapose something old with something new, or simply plate your grandmother’s cooking in a contemporary way. Johan will be choosing one of the top three posts this week along with the usual suspects at ChefSteps.

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 picks (sometimes we have a tie) will get their photos posted on ChefSteps’ Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. We’re looking forward to seeing some updated blasts from the past!

Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

Holidays Got You Down? Cheer Up With A Little Red Wine!


It’s that time of year again…you’re desperate to find the perfect way to express your appreciation to those influential people in your life. What gesture will really pay tribute to the courageous, caring individuals whose ideals keep you going day after day?

We are talking about Presidents’ Day, right?

Well, whether it’s Presidents’ Day or that other holiday with all the hearts and chocolates floating around, you can impress your loved ones and pay tribute (use some gorgeous Washington state pears) by making this recipe for Red Wine Poached Pear.

Happy Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day from
Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps team.


Michael Natkin Codes and Cooks | Gigandes Beans with Romesco in Saffron Broth

While many of our chefs were traveling last week, Michael Natkin, our lead developer stepped in. Many know him from his Herbivoracious blog and we’ve had a voracious appetite to get him in the kitchen to produce a step-by-step recipe for you. We thought this would be a perfect time to show off this multi-talented guy, so here is Michael’s recipe for Gigandes Beans with Romesco in Saffron Broth.

Gigande Beans with Romesco in Saffron BrothThe recipe has several steps, so we broke it down. You can prepare each part separately and then reheat and assemble with excellent results.

1. Prepare the gigandes beans. Alternatively, you can use jarred pre-cooked gigandes. You can also substitute a different large bean if you so desire.

  • Pick through the dried beans for any extraneous material. Rinse well.
  • Soak overnight, optionally in a vacuum bag with 450 grams water.
  • Repack with 1000 grams fresh water. Do not seal bag.
  • Cook sous vide at 90 °C, securely hanging the bag over the rim of the cooking vessel. After 90 minutes, start testing a bean every fifteen minutes until tender.
  • Drain and chill beans.

2. Michael prepares the potatoes and leeks:


2. Next up, Michael concocts the wonderful Catalan sauce, romesco, made from roasted (by blowtorch) red peppers, tomatoes, roasted garlic and toasted nuts:


3. Now to make the delicious saffron broth:


4. The last step before serving, here’s Michael assembling the final dish:


Cheers to Michael
and many thanks from
Chris Young, Grant Crilly, Ryan Matthew Smith and the rest of the ChefSteps team!