We want to prepare a big salmon for 36 people for Christmas eve. Maybe we’ll do it with filets. 4 filets. They’ll be about 45 x 17 x 5 cm each, can be a little smaller or a little bigger. I have some questions.
- First a general question: I have an Anova Precision Cooker WI-FI (220V). How big a container can this cooker handle?
- And if I use two of the same cookers, can I double the capacity?
- Can I ask the seller to vacuum the filets and use them as they are in the bassin?
- Does it matter if I put the filets on top of each other?
- If it does, will it be sufficient to put little peaces of wood, or something like that, between them?
- Is it necessary to sear the filets after being cooked?
- If not, how is the appearance when not seared?
- If yes, how do I do the searing? I have no skillet of that size. Would searing with a burner do?
- Can I do the same with swordfish, tuna or other big fishes?
Sorry for the many questions, but thanks in advance!
Have a nice day,
Peter, the short answer is, - Don’t do it.
It is very difficult and risky.
This is not a menu item to be served to young children, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system.
Anova states its capacity is “8 meals”, whatever that means. The company no longer recommends the former 5 US gallons, about 40 l, cooking capacity.
These are not commercial cookers and 36 people is definitely in that volume class.
Don’t you have an oven?
If you must proceed, first there are some practical and technical hurdles to clear using two APCs. They draw too much electricity to be on a single domestic circuit. The PID control circuitry could get confused by a second heat source operating at the same temperature. There have been reports of successfully using two units set slightly apart in temperature. You might be better advised to used a large well insulated vessel.
Yes, have the seller vacuum package the skinless filets. Sear or bake the salmon skin to crisp it separately. You will be safer using previously frozen salmon that kills any parasites.
Have you previously used the SV cooking technique?
You don’t reveal the time or temperature you plan to use and that gives me additional safety concerns for your guests.
It is absolutely critical that there be ample water circulation over all food surfaces for safe and effective cooking. Wood floats, use wire racks or bent wire coat hangers to separate fish in a vertical orientation, like they are swimming. Reverse the orientation of adjoining fillets.
Unbrined SV cooked salmon appears poached when not seared. To serve, top portions brushed with a little lemon-herb butter and pieces of crisp skin.
If your pan doesn’t fit the fish, cut the fish to fit the pan.
You don’t tell what type of burner you consider. Avoid propane for its potentially oily taste.
You certainly are persistent like most Dutch people i know.
Yes, there are no rules against using other types of fish as long as you are aware that they are best cooked at different temperatures.
All fish are susceptible to naturally occurring parasites. Since many sous vide recipes for salmon recommend cooking below 60° C you need to insure that the fish has been frozen at approved levels. This cannot be done at home because home freezers rarely obtain the low temperatures needed. Frank has covered the cooking aspects if you want to attempt this cook.
Thank you both very much for your very useful replies! I am afraid that I fit in your perception of Dutch people very well…
Yes, I have worked with the Precision cooker often. I prepared salmon steaks at 43.3 for 45 minutes, according to the Anova guide soft and buttery and so they were. Very good. Now, I thought it’ll be more practical and attractive to serve whole filets when entertaining 36 guests. Following the rule one more inch is one more hour, I thought to extend the time to 2 hours (I expect the filets to a little less than 2 inches.
Perhaps I shouldn’t do it. However I still have some questions.
What I do not understand is the fact that we often eat raw fish, in sushi, but also when we buy salmon or tuna and cut is in very thin slices and eat it as a carpaccio. So, if that is acceptable, why not when you heat them up to 43.3 C during sufficient time?
Or should I raise the temperature to 46.1 C?
I have also asked Anova support to tell me the capacity of the precision cooker they recommend. They answered that the cooker manages 30 quarters. I have ordered a 26 quarters container with compatible lid. Would it help if I do it with two containers (my son in law will help en bring in his cooker, so we will have two). The fish filets will have plenty of space.
Do you think that the time (2 hours) and temperature (43.3 C, or 46.1) would be okay?
Can I brown the filets with a torch?
Have a nice evening or for you: a nice day!
I think most fish especially in Europe is frozen to kill any parasite. I would verify this with your fish monger. I have only served my salmon cooked sous vide as Frank states, poached.
With a party it is hard to know for certain if anyone has a compromised immunity system so it is best to be safe.
Baldwin a recognized authority has written a book on sous vide for foods. Here is an excerpt on fish he published:
Peter, your aditional information is helpful. From your first post i sensed a lack of experience and confidence. You now reveal considerable SV cooking knowledge and experience. Thank you.
If you enjoyed rare salmon cooked at 43.3ᴼC and there is no new reason to change go ahead as planned. Changing temperature changes texture.
To answer most of your questions, attached is a link to Dr. Douglas Baldwin’s informative work on SV including a video on cooking SV salmon in Part II in Recipes, 3. Fish and Shellfish.
I hope you find it useful.
Cooking for an hour ought to be enough for rare salmon. Refer to the video.
Plenty of space is important. Using two water baths is a lot better than one.
You can brown the fillets if you have a reason to substantially change the appearance and surface texture of the salmon. Finishing with a torch is more often done on salmon cooked at a higher temperature. Some cooks serve glazed salmon using finishes like lemon & miso or hoisin sauce.