Seasoning

I have begun using my Sous Vide with great success…However…I am finding my perfectly cooked filets missing something? I am curious about the ways in which people are seasoning their red meat…specifically steaks??

Boot, if in doubt, season more. The difference may also be in the searing step.

If you can manage it sometime, watch a restaurant grill cook season steaks about to be cooked. You will usually observe a snowfall-like application of salt and pepper onto a clarified butter dipped steak, and then later a second application to finish using a seasoning mix with garlic. That’s how i have been doing mine for decades.

Make your own mix or try the McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning mix many cooks happily use. There are other similar brands too. It’s a blend of typically Eastern European spices idealy suited to red meat.

I don’t season pre-cook. I find it doesn’t have much flavour impact for me. I do season well just before searing, but I’m a straight salt and pepper gal. I’d much rather be able to use the juices from the cooking bag in a reduction sauce without having to worry about salt content.

But I’m a fairly light hand with salt anyway. If I want more flavour I’ll add a sauce or something on serving.

I agree with you about the salt. My partner has congestive heart failure and is supposed to limit her sodium intake to 1500 mg of salt/day. It’s amazing how little salt that is even using low sodium salt substitutes. I used to use a lot more salt than I do now and have used sauces and rubs for 30+ years and find that most sauces and rubs don’t require much salt and don’t suffer from a lack of generous pre/post salting. I like your idea of using the broth in the cooking bag to make a sauce for the filet. A simple pan sauce can do wonders for a filet although I find it challenging at times to get the best sear without leaving burned fond in the pan that turns the sauce bitter when deglazed. Maybe the answer is not to deglaze, clean it out, and rethink the basic pan sauce.

On the other hand I don’t think a lot of salt and pepper can make a fairly bland filet taste any “beffier” than it is although a little does help bring out the best it has to offer. I suppose that is why so many sauces for the tenderloin from Julia Child to many later chefs were developed. I find the so called butcher cuts have much better beef flavor and adapt well to various rubs with minimal salt required.

Bob, tenderloin is a little used muscle that doesn’t develop the flavour of other cuts. For many people it needs the enhancements of sauces or condiments.

What are you using in your searing that turns bitter? The natural meat juices, called fond, don’t turn bitter and enhance sauces when your pan is deglazed. Maybe you are using butter and its milk solids are burning and turning bitter? Try an oil that can withstand high temperatures without burning and use very little. Canola is one that is inexpensive and shelf stable.

The most significant challenge in living on a low sodium diet is getting through that initial transition period. Once a person’s taste threshold adjusts to low or no added salt natural flavours become more apparent without the amplification. One just has to avoid the typical purchased and processed food items that can reset your taste threshold for a while due to high sodium levels. If you have the time make stocks and concentrate them for flavour bonuses. Cooking with fruits and fruit juices also bring flavour improvements to meals without sodium.

That’s also the reason healthcare facilities typically have low perceived food quality to outsiders, they cook with little or no salt to better support the wellness of their population.

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What are you using in your searing that turns bitter?"
I use 1 TBS avocado oil that has the highest smoke point of any neutral available…Usually I am cooking for 2 using a 10 inch Calphalon 3 lb. stainless steel skillet on a 12000 BTU burner and , I also sometimes use a torch and perhaps that is what causes the problem at times. Or it could be that the skillet had not been properly cleaned from the last time there was a sauce finished with a pat of butter. It is amazing how sometimes pots, pans, and eve floors look clean at one angle of light verses another. I got tired of my 10 and 12" cast iron skillets that tend to hurt my wrists at times. .

At 78 things aren’t always what they used to be! I just ordered an 11" carbon steel skillet that I’m looking forward to using.

I agree that it becomes easier to wean from higher levels of salt over time but there are times when zero salt needs something, My partner recently made some zero salt Brunswick Stew. It was good but a few drops of Melinda’s habanero mango salsa brightened it up a lot. It’s a bit more sweet than spicy and not much mango flavor but I’m not trying for a lot of heat. It only has 40 mg of salt/teaspoon so barely any in a few shots.

Aggressive use of a torch tends to burn more than brown. They can be difficult to use in moderation.

As you develop more NAS and low Na recipes reach for those compatible condiments and seasonings and keep written records. The Mrs. Dash seasonings can be a good start for you and there’s similar seasoning formulae available on the net.

The best no sodium blend I’ve found is Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. It was recommended by a nutritionist at a cardiology nutrition class. It It seems to taste good on everything but to stay a bit more diverse I use it more on vegetables than anything else whether steamed, roasted, or grilled. It’s available at Amazon as well as Trader Joe’s but much more expensive at Amazon. It’s interesting to read the negative reviews that I suppose is normal for a subjective assessment although it may be related to the variability of taste buds in individuals. E. G. dislike of spicy food, cilantro, etc… Here is a good article that updates the old tongue map of taste
https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/how-do-our-tastebuds-work

I too was going to suggest McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning. It makes an amazing difference and it’s an easy step.

Bobjdan, I’m not a doctor, but am a medically curious person who has spent a lot of time (too much) researching subjects that interest me. The restriction of salt in much of the population has come under dispute in the past few years, including in persons with heart failure, where restriction may actually increase the rate of death. However, there is controversy still swirling around this hypothesis because nothing is ever settled in the field of medical research until decades have passed. Perhaps a discussion with a specialist is indicated for your partner.
https://bit.ly/38CEwl2
https://bit.ly/2P5T6tm
I realize this is off topic, but felt obliged to respond.

I would change cuts of beef, fillets usually are not that flavorful. Try rib eye and cut in half ( so the portion size is the same). Season after spud vide and before browning.

Dru, thanks for the links to the studies. I’ve read many studies about sodium, recommended dosages, etc…Even before I met my current partner after my wife died i was interested in it more from an iodine angle. I had been using kosher salt almost exclusively for several years when I ran across an article at t-nation.com about the preponderance of low iodine with a symptom of being cold from low body temperature. My wife and I checked ours during the winter when we kept the house at 71 and we were both around 97 degrees, sometimes a bit lower. So we started using low sodium salt with iodine. Never was sure it helped much because spring and summer soon came.

I had not seen the second one about the affects of chloride before and is interesting especially from the angle of the diuretics my partner takes every other day. At our age between my BPH and her diuretics it take some planning to take a road trip!

Unfortunately her diuretics are going to be a small part of her problem. A week ago we learned that she has adenocarcinoma an advanced stage of lung cancer. She was a light smoker and had quit 40 years ago.