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How to Sous Vide Steak

Sous-vide is absolutely the best way to cook steak. After a couple of years of using it, I’m 100% convinced that the perfect steak is a sous-vide steak, no question. It’s tender, it’s juicy, it’s cooked all the way through to a completely even colour and texture, there are no worries with undercooking or overcooking. And to add to all that, it’s about as complex to cook as a Pot Noodle.

Kamikaze Cookery’s first ever episode was about improvising a sous-vide setup to cook perfect steak . But assuming you want to go a bit beyond that - perhaps you’ve got your own sous-vide machine, even - how do you make your steak really kick ass?

h2. Cut isn’t that important, but quality is.

I think that fillet steak is overrated, particularly for sous-vide cooking. It’s very nice and very tender, but so is rump steak cooked sous-vide. And wheras other cuts will tend to stiffen up a bit if cooked on a grill or fried, you don’t have to worry about that problem when you’re using a sous-vide water bath.

However, sous-vide can’t save a crappy piece of meat. If it’s not aged properly, or the cow was stressed when it died, or had an uninteresting diet, that’s going to stay with you.

So, for preference, I’d always select a really good rump steak from a farm I know (easier to do than you’d think - just hit the local farmer’s market) over a supermarket fillet steak. And if I’ve got to shop in the supermarket, I’ll take their top-end rump over a medium-quality fillet every time.

h2. Temperature

Under 60 degrees, every time. You may well like beef well done, but if you do, I’m afraid I can’t assist you, because that just seems wierd to me.

Thomas Keller recommends 59.5 degrees Centigrade (139 F) , which will give you a pinkish bit of meat, rather than one with any bloody juices. Personally I’ll tend to drop a few degrees from that into the 56 to 57 range (130 to 135), which produces a slightly bloody but very, very tender and juicy piece of meat.

Remember, to speed up your setup time, use your shiny electric yellow kettle - or other kettle, as you prefer - to boil about half the volume of water your bath takes. It’ll reduce your setup time from an hour’s heating to close to nil.

Cooking times? As always, follow Douglas Baldwin’s charts - he’s got a section on beef.

h2. Seasoning

I’m not a fan of fancy seasoning on steak, unless it’s being cooked by someone a lot more competent than me. If Grant Achatz wants to serve me prime sirloin with a hint of tarmac, I’ll trust his judgement. But when I’m cooking the darn thing, the best seasoning I’ve ever found for a sous-vide steak is salt and pepper.

Fresh-grind your rock salt and pepper on both sides, stick it into the vacuum sealer, and Bob’s your uncle. With some searing when it comes out, this noticably improves the taste over unseasoned steak, whilst also kicking the ass of any other seasoning combination I’ve tried.

Don’t skip the pepper - you need both for a perfect steak.

Do you have any sous-vide steak tips we should know about? Post them below!

UPDATE: We’re starting a newsletter for people who are interested in sous-vide: news, tips, places to get cheap equipment, that sort of thing.

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