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Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide Hardcover – October 15, 2008
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The technique has been in the pipeline for awhile--one forerunner is the boil-in bag mom used to put veggies on the table--but has only recently attracted top chefs. One is Thomas Keller, famed chef-proprietor of The French Laundry and Per Se. His mightily sized, gorgeously produced Under Pressure explores every inch of sous vide, including the ramifications of using this precision-cooking technique (once time and temperature are established, best results follow automatically) on the craft of cooking, which has always meant a potentially rewarding engagement with the possibility of failure.
The book makes no bones about being addressed to professionals. Typical recipes, like Marinated Toy Box Tomatoes with Compressed Cucumber-Red Onion Relish, Toasted Brioche, and Diane St. Claire Butter, involve multiple preparations and dernier cri ingredients, and thus resist home duplication. There’s also the matter of the pricey equipment required--chamber vacuum packers and temperature-maintaining immersion circulators--not to mention the precautions required to ensure that foods, usually cooked at low temps, are safe to eat.
What the book does offer the home cook is, however, thrilling. It introduces something new under the sun--an exciting, transformative technique of great potential. Anyone interested in food and cooking--not to mention lovers of extraordinarily well produced books--will want to explore Under Pressure. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are a professional with all the expensive equipment, a demanding clientele and a pioneering spirit, this book will quickly become an essential reference. If you are a casual home cook curious about sous vide wizardry and perhaps interested in toying with the techniques, you will find this book intimidating and useless. For foodies who have been intrigued by "molecular gastronomy" restaurant offerings, this book may answer a few "How did they do that?" questions. Given the level of creative energy between this book's covers, it is an outstanding value for the listed Amazon price. Understand, however, that as Keller states on p. 38, this book is
"written for the professional kitchen, from one chef to another. No modifications have been made
to accommodate cooks preparing [these recipes] at home, even though some of them certainly can
be done at home with the right equipment"
Recipe mise-en-place is organized by component in a division-of-labor professional kitchen style (not chronologically). All recipes use metric weights, so a digital scale is essential. These stylistic choices are sensible for Keller's audience, but may be offputting to a home cook more familiar with traditional American home cookbook presentations.
Sous vide is, in important ways, both easier and safer than other cooking methods. Some of the advantages include ultra-precise control (and corresponding prevention of cooking errors and waste), extended hold times, intensified flavor, more efficient usage of labor, space and ingredients, and the ability to accomplish certain end results that are impossible with any other approach.Read more ›
when i opened this book i felt the same experience i felt opening the french laundry. the books pretty much even look the same. neither are designed with the home cook in mind.
that said, most of the recipes can be replicated at home, given the right equipment. i seriously doubt anyone is going to buy a chamber vacuum sealer (costing up to or exceeding 5 grand) or an immersion circulator (costing over a grand) but there is hope for people on a budget, like myself.
i, myself, have been doing some sous-vide cooking at home and at work for about a year now. i tested the way the technique can change the texture and taste of food. the results i got ranged from disasterious to sublime. i never had a real guide to sous vide cooking (not being able to spend over 200 bucks for the only book printed on the subject). but now i do. but i dont have the expensive hardware that this book calls for, but im pretty sure i can get the same results they get on MOST of these dishes.
its true, food savers and chamber sealers are alot different. you cant get the results of a "compressed" watermelon (as in the steak tartare)using something you got at target, but you can get the same type of pork belly. with the old foodsavers, you werent able to seal food with a liquid (unless you froze it and then placed it with the food in the bag).Read more ›
Be warned, however, the recipes are quite complicated, often require exotic ingredients and molecular gastronomy chemicals, and generally necessitate use of a chamber vacuum sealing machine (usually $2000 and up) instead of the more common consumer-level vacuum sealers. (An immersion heater is also required for sous vide, or a gadget that accomplishes the same result, but you already knew that.)
For the home cook who's interested in sous vide, has invested in an immersion heater and FoodSaver, and wants some good recipes that can be accomplished with supermarket ingredients, this is not the book. For those readers, it deserves only one or two stars. Sadly, no cookbook on the market today addresses sous vide in a true home cooking context, and that's a pity, because it's a technique that can be used to great advantage without necessarily having to replicate the offerings in a world-class restaurant.
If, on the other hand, you are an experienced chef and are looking for a completely new cooking technique then you are looking in the right place. There is an investment required to get the bare minimum equipment needed but you can buy everything you need for under $250.
In order to cook Sous Vide, you need the following:
1) A PID temperature controler like the SousVideMagic 3rd Gen 1500C which costs $139 plus shipping
2) A rice cooker like the Black & Decker 20-Cup Rice Cooker - Stainless Steel (RC866) for $40
3) A vacuum food sealer like the Reynolds Consumer Produ Handi Vac Starter Kit 00590 for $14
4) A propane torch like the Bernzomatic - Turner Brass Propane Torch Kit (TU100K) for $19
5) A fish tank air bubbler for under $20
That's everything you need except for the food ingedients. Yes, there are some ingedients that you'll need to get by mail order but that's no problem. I'm sure if you're reading this you've ordered stuff from the web before.
There is one thing I'm trying to rationalize and haven't fully come to terms with yet: Is cooking with plastic safe? With the exception of Sous Vide, I NEVER cook my food in contact with plastic.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is to food porn what "go get the butter" was to mainstreaming P in the B via Last Tango in Paris. Read morePublished 17 days ago by KO
Easy to understand, very detailed.
I love this book but it has a lot of uncommon ingredients and does not offer any suggestion how to substitute any of the items. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Morganhorse
Fantastic book. As is states, this is not for those who don't know what they're doing in the kitchen... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Colin H.
I bought this for my husband, who is a chef. He says, "Lessons from the master! A must buy for all cooks."Published 2 months ago by HBG
So so book for sous vide. Would of liked a more common sense approach rather that a wow look what i can do approach.Published 2 months ago by Eva W. Celli
Great read!! Amazing how great Thomas Keller continues to be...Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer