29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A Good Luxury,
This review is from: SousVide Supreme Water Oven (Kitchen & Home)
Sous vide, a cooking technique where vacuum-sealed food is immersed in a precise, consistently-heated water bath, has been one of the better-kept secrets of top chefs for some time. Gradually home gastronomes are picking this up and doing it for themselves.
Eades Appliance Technology has launched what is said to be the world's first consumer sous vide appliance - in two different sizes (SousVide Supreme and the smaller SousVide Supreme Demi). Along with a companion-series of vacuum sealers, the company seeks to offer everything the home cook would need to get sous vide-ing.
In essence for your money you get a water tank with a computer-controlled heating element. You set the desired cooking temperature, set the optional timer and put the vacuum-sealed food into the device once the target water temperature has been reached. Whilst it is essential that the water temperature is accurately set and maintained dependent on the food being cooked, the length of cooking time is, on the whole, not so critical after the minimum cooking time has been reached. So a steak could take a couple of hours in some cases, but it will not spoil if you then leave it cooking for a few hours more. It won't be any better but equally it won't be spoiled.
Once you have put the food in the water bath there is absolutely no stirring or other involvement required. Just have patience as the food is cooked at much lower temperatures than it would otherwise be cooked at in an oven, on a grill and so on.
There is not so much you can say about the water bath. It is relatively timeless in design and features an aluminium finish (the demi is a black finish) and it could be mistaken for a bread maker or slow cooker by some. There is no real complexity: you get the bath, the lid, an insulation cushion for the top and that's about it... you put the food inside vacuum-sealed bags or pouches that are then placed in the filled water bath, using the optional wire frame to keep some internal order and consistent water exposure. You set the desired temperature (which is held to plus/minus 0.2 centigrade), add the food when it has reached its target and... well, either relax, do something else and just come back when either the timer or your own informal "clock" says that the food is ready.
Some food, such as meats, benefit from a little bit of colour either with a butane torch or searing in a pan or under a broiler but that is mostly for aesthetic purposes.
Sous vide is a technique that can make a taste difference to virtually all foods, and in many cases one can use lesser, tougher cuts of meat, for example, and through sous vide cooking they can become tender, melt-in-the-mouth morsels. There is more preparation involved when you have to think ahead, vacuum-seal your food into pouches, etc. but these are not insurmountable problems. As vacuum-sealing is, itself, a short-term form of preservation you could even cook several lots of meat and then refrigerate or freeze and then just finish it off later when you are ready. In fact, in restaurant kitchens, they would cook many portions ready ahead of service and just rewarm and finish off the dish after the order is taken. So with a bit of planning you could possibly save much time for your family through sous vide - the initial learning curve and change to the status quo might be challenging, but the results worthy.
The SousVide Supreme comes with a user's guide and basic instructional DVD. Whilst it would be fair to describe these as `functional' there is scope for significant improvement, particularly when you consider the purchase price for the device it would not be too unreasonable to expect a much more detailed instruction guide and MANY recipes with full-colour photographs. The device itself is simple to use, but there are many tips that could be imparted and with a better book you would be more likely to want to try things out and be less fearful of this new way of cooking. Fortunately there are several good third-party recipe books available but it is quite a disappointing omission nonetheless. The DVD does give a few hints and tips but one has needed to invest nearly a quarter-of-an-hour to get these, when they could have been dispensed in a minute or two within a good handbook.
Many nutritionalists are positive over sous vide as a cooking method as the food cooks in its own natural juices for maximum flavour and nutrition. Additionally vitamins and antioxidants that would be lost into cooking liquid or steam with traditional cooking methods remain intact.
How did it cope in real-world tests? Generally very well. This reviewer's wife whilst, initially sceptical, was generally positive to the transformation made to some cuts of meat, which is quite high praise as she is not a prolific meat eater. Everything worked as it would be expected to and no doubt there was an initial `fear of the unknown' that was unfounded. The SousVide Supreme was initiative and after a brief look at the manual it never needs to be troubled again. The ready reckoner table is then the only thing you need to consult if you wish to know the cooking time and temperature for a given foodstuff. There are even third-party applications available for iPhone and iPad users that can be a great little extra (it is possible that similar applications exist for other phone/tablet platforms).
Apart from the disappointing user guide, about the only thing we'd like to have immediately changed would be the weight of the lid (that doubles as a tray). It just felt too thin and lightweight. When you come to remove the lid after cooking, a lot of condensation/water seems to affix itself to the lid and there is no angled drainage lip so if you are not deft you might drop a bit of water on your work surface. Not a big deal in itself once you know what to expect, but it would be nice to avoid this if it would be possible.
Is this reviewer sold on sous vide cooking? Yes and no. Yes, due to the great results achievable with a little bit of effort and planning. And it is not really a no per se. It is clear that sous vide will not be the dominant cooking method of choice, so far, for this reviewer but that is because of forward-planning and kitchen organisation. This is no reflection on the SousVide Supreme but a reality. For a commercial kitchen or a family where you know there is a structured meal plan, this is a no-brainer. You probably still do need to be a bit of a foodie to make the most of this due to the preparation requirements. Invest a little time and trouble and the results WILL pay back with dividends. This is one of those products where the offer of a trial would be a great marketing campaign as this reviewer suspects, once it has fell into the hands of a foodie it might be hard to let go of it!