Back in 2004, while I was the chef at Earth & Ocean, I purchased an immersion circulator to play with a cooking method called sous vide. I was one of the first chefs in Seattle to have one and the method mystified and inspired me. But when I left E&O to open Tilth, I had to leave the immersion circulator there. Recently, I was able to purchase my own immersion circulator — two actually. My crew has been having fun experimenting with our toys.
For a recent Monday night menu, Larkin, the sous chef, made a 12-hour pork shoulder that was absolutely amazing. We have been making our fennel, baby turnips, carrots, sablefish and pork loin using the sous vide method. Basically, the process involves cooking foods that have been vacuum packed in a plastic bag in a water bath that’s kept at a constant temperature. The slower heat allows the food to retain its inherent flavors and nutrients. Pork tastes like pork! Carrots taste like no carrots you’ve tasted before. The flavors in general are “cleaner.” This may seem like a contradiction in terms, but the subtleties also shine.
How I describe the taste of sous vide vegetables is that they taste raw but have a cooked texture and they retain all the vitamins and minerals. How cool is that?
The only “drawback” is that because the food is cooked at 130 degrees or so, it never gets really hot. People expect the hot food to be hot. But sous vide food never really achieves the temperature that a sauteed or seared food would. So there is a disconnect for people who associate “cooked” with “hot.” Sous vide is cooked but warm.
We hope you will join us at Tilth to taste some of our dishes that include sous vide components.