Why am I so intimidated?

Hello - wow, everyone got so quiet!

A friend had the APC on his facebook page along with a link for a fair amount of money off for the purchase. So, as it was Black Friday / Cyber Monday, I purchased one along with an Instant Pot. I did take me some time to warm up to the IP, and we’re now well on the way to a wonderful relationship. When the Precision cooker (wifi) arrived however, I took it out of the box and, for some reason, was completely intimidated by it; it has now been sitting in a cupboard for about two weeks…

No idea where the mental block is coming from… I’ve downloaded, and installed the app on my phone… read the 'Serious Eats" article…and I have two salmon fillets, along with some fresh dill, in my fridge waiting to go.

Am I just weird? (yes I am actually but not generally when it comes to technology or kitchen widgets)
Should I name it or just jump in with both feet?

There is absolutely no reason to feel intimidated. Jump right in, the water’s fine.

I can’t advise on your salmon, because fish and I are not friends, but most of the SeriousEats information is very good. I don’t see that their recommendations on salmon would be of a lesser standard.

My recommendation for a first cook is usually skinless, boneless chicken breast, because everyone has had it done badly at some stage. The window of perfection with chicken breast is so tiny and the difference between perfectly moist, tender chicken breast and dry and stringy is so marked. In fact, I had given up buying breast meat in favour of the more flavourful and forgiving thigh meat. I still prefer thigh, but breast has returned to the menu.

Anyway. Welcome to the Community. Now, repeat after me… “There is no reason to fear…” Take 3 deep, calming breaths and Go for it!

Yes. I did the “poached” chicken recipe first, and Believe me I can screw up a can of chef-boyardee… It came out perfect. Jump in…the water is fine!

@Ember @whybuynew1 - So, I put on my big girl pants and set it up; it is currently cooking the salmon. But made my first two mistakes - 1 - I put my fish in first (before the app told me to do so (no idea it would); and 2 recipe said 4 fillets, where as mine are only 2. At the same time, they are fairly good sized fillets so might come out to the same thing. I’ll take another look at the app to see if I can change for the weight of the items.

Oh, @Ember, I didn’t take your advice about the three deep-breaths, but I think the two glasses of Sherry had the effect you were going for! :slight_smile:

@whybuynew1 - you and me both! But at least my APC doesn’t appear to be telling my food is done - yet! Some people call it a smoke detector, so I think myself and this new kitchen widget are going to be friends.

Thank you to you both! The encouragement means alot!

Fish can be a little more time delicate than many things, but the proteins won’t start to change before it is at a certain temperature anyway. Dropping the food in prior to the bath reaching temperature isn’t a major thing.

Nore is the amount. 1 piece. 2 or even 3 will take the same time to cook. It’s the time for the core of the food to reach equilibrium with the water bath… and sometimes extra for texture.

@Ember - oh okay; that makes sense! One thing I did find, is that although it cooked for 45 minutes, it didn’t taste done…or more to the point, I think it was the texture. Now, I didn’t finish it, could that have made a difference? On the other hand, it was the moistest salmon I’ve ever had.

There will be a texural difference when cooking fish sous vide because of the low temperature used. You’re not tightening up the protein strings.

I think a lot of people grow accustomed to eating fish that is overcooked. Salmon and Halibut re very easily overcooked and they get dry very quickly using conventional methods. With sous vide they come out perfectly cooked every time. You might try raising the temperature a few degrees and see if the texture is more to your liking. When you do chicken you will find that it also is a bit different in feel. It will be tender and moist. Really great for topping salads.

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I’m no as expert as the guys that have already answered you. But I can assure you that this is the more efficient cooking technique I know so far. I mean that you get the best results with the less error margin possible. After that the best, in my opinion, possible advise is: try and improve your skills by experience.
As far as I’ve done, the worst done try produced an acceptable result yet.

Forgive my idiom mistakes. I hope is understandable… =8D

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I totally get it. I was initially very intimidated by sous vide, too. But once you jump right in, you’ll realize that it’s a pretty easy tool to use. Glad you got started!

@john.jcb I think you are very much correct on that - I was expecting a different feel to my food. If I had been really concerned about how well the fish was cooked, or not, I probably could have turned on more lights.

Thank you for the reminder about the chicken - I’ll need to keep that in mind when I cook chicken.

@rpperezr - no need to apologize for the use of idiom; I’m really bad for that as well!

At least the APC was actually used - and not sitting in a drawer; it will make more appearances!

@AlyssaWOAH - thank you! A great community made a difference; willing to lend words of support.

Unfortunately, it looks like my APC has the “burning rubber” smell thing happening. I had noticed it when I took it out of the box, but thought it was a remnant of the manufacturing process. Apparently not - my husband really noticed the smell and commented on it twice while I was cooking yesterday. So, I’ll need to follow-up with customer service.

Argh, I’m sorry about that! Yes, please reach out to support. They’ll arrange to have that swapped out for you.

Cooking fish is similar to cooking eggs. Too many folks cook the fish so that it may look good, nicely browned and crisp, which usually overcooks it. Of course, we eat with our eyes, but when you need a steak knife to eat a piece of fish, it is kinda sad. PS: I’m from Louisiana, and we take our cooked fish very seriously. Happy New Year, ya’ll!

I had the opportunity to check out the sous vide setups in two really good restaurants recently and learned that the ONLY things they use them for are dozens of boneless chicken breasts: to keep them fully cooked, yet moist and succulent, until they flash sear them over hot coals for various dishes. It would be interesting to find out how other restaurants use sous vide.

I also recently sous vide cooked two 3.5" filets mignon for 3 hours @135˚, then seared all sides on a very hot oil-sprayed and coarse-salted iron skillet. Prior to cooking, I sprinkled and patted the filets with ground ginger and coarse pepper and let them ‘rest’ in the fridge for 4 days. I set them on hot plates that formed puddles of melted Italian garlic butter with herbs, and served with roasted baby carrots (3" of stems attached), and baked sweet potatoes … AWESOME!

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@Zokellib That sounds heavenly!

Hi. I just read your post and must confess I felt much the same way at first. Well, truthfully I still feel intimidated and am slowly dipping my toes in the water - one toe at a time. Anyway, I have come up with a few thoughts on what exactly was bugging me and thought I would share in case it helps.

  1. The higher acceptable cooking temperatures have been drilled into my head for a very long time. After some research, I understand why I can now cook chicken to 150 degrees instead of 165, but I am finding that I am still quite wary of the lower temps.
  2. Since most beginner recipes indicate 1 - 4 hours, how on earth will I ever know if my specific chicken breast is completely cooked through? Especially since I may have arranged it in some weird manner (was it really okay to put three breasts in one bag?). And, what about the thickness of my pork chops - does that require additional time? And if so, how much?? In the past I could open my trusty oven and check with a meat thermometer to see if it was cooked through, but now I have these sealed pouches and opening them to check (do people do that?) just seems very wrong.
  3. I have a number of odd concerns about the water level, whether the bag is sufficiently submerged, and if my pot is big enough to allow sufficient circulation.
  4. I cook very basic, straightforward meals. I grew up on meat and potatoes. There is something about searing that I find somewhat intimidating.

So, yeah, I get it. I hope that continuing to test things out and some helpful feedback from the community will help push me into the deep end (sorry, I can’t seem to help the pool puns).

Hi Rhonda,

I wish I had more time right now to address each of the concerns you’ve enumerated, but I’m in a rush. At least let me provide some feedback that should help with items 1 and 2.
When you cook sous vide there is - based the type of food being cooked, on water temp, on item thickness, on how the food is “packaged” (i.e. in a mason jar, in a vacuum bag, how it is arranged in the bag) - a certain minimum time that you’ll want to cook in order to be “safe”. I think it is with this that you are probably most concerned. You can probably avoid this worry by simply cooking it longer than you think you need to!
Almost everything you cook sous vide will have a generous range of time where it will be “done” just the way you like it. So for instance if you determine that you have a package of pork chops that should be safely cooked in two hours you can just drop them in the bath for three hours instead. They should be virtually the same as they were at two hours - though texture will of course gradually change the longer you leave it in. But this at least alleviates any worry that you might have as to whether it is “done” or not.
Other’s will have more and perhaps better advice, but I hope at least that this can take some of the “worry” out of things so that you can feel free to experiment and enjoy this fabulous method of cooking. So far I’ve had every single thing I’ve cooked come out at least “very good”, and in most cases “excellent”. May your experiences turn out just as successful!

The answer to most of these concerns is quite simply read the Sous Vide Bible:

http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html#Safety

It explains pasteurisation. It gives you tables for the temperatures and how long to achieve pasteurisation for a given thickness of meat or poultry at any given temperature.

Times for pasteurisation are in addition to the time to reach temperature equilibrium (when the core of product cooking has reached the same temperature as the bath) which can be roughly calculated by one hour per inch of thickness.

Still worried? Invest in a quality instant read digital thermometer.

The variation in the times given has been covered many times on this forum. Here’s just one of them: