I’ll just come right out with the challenge of this dish. At what point during the meal should you tell your guests the steak was cooked in the kitchen sink?
It’s a good idea to get the “ghetto sous vide” out of the way before your guests arrive and all they witness is the searing of the outside. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.
Mise en place:
When your really cooking, sometimes accidents happen. We had a good laugh. Very entertaining that the hanger steak never hit the floor. What are the chances that would happen again? It took a while, but eventually, we assumed full control of the situation again.
It’s also more fun cooking with a friend. You could imagine the fumbler trying to stop you from taking this photo with soy sauce and apple juice dripping from her hands. Had i been the culprit, acting solo, I’m sure some colorful words would precede an immediate cleanup. Who would want to clean up their hands to photograph a mess and finish cleaning up?
“Ghetto Sous Vide”
For a quick primer on sous vide cooking, check out Cooking Issues by David Arnold. The basic idea premise behind sous vide is a low temperature cooking technique (under water) that allows greater control of the temperature. A cook has the ability to cook meat under a gentle bath of water to a perfect target temperature, such as 125º for a perfect medium rare, and it is impossible to overcook, although it is possible to ruin the food with poor technique.
Restaurants use a very expensive immersion circulator, David Chang recommends a slightly less expensive hot running tap. The first home machine, the Sous Vide Supreme, entered the market a few months ago around $449, and my landlord pays the water bill. One day, when the startup goes public.
The marinade gets split up into four separate bags for the cooking method. Note: I should have put put them in separate bags for the marinade and left overnight. This would require you to just pop the bags in the water bath without having to transfer the steaks from one bag to another.
This is one hot tap. At a bare trickle the water comes out at an almost perfect 128º.
After the cooking, the bags get shocked in an ice bath and cooked immediately. They can be stored for a while like this, and seared on the outside when your ready to serve. To be honest, they don’t look that appetizing before they are seared.
This side of the hanger steak shown above is prior to the sear. You can see the beautiful grill marks on the the first photo. The meat looks redder and undercooked compared to a typical medium rare. I’ve read that this is not uncommon for anything cooked sous vide. The gentle technique does not shock or “damage” the cells as much. As we’ll see in a later Momofuku Ko recipe, short ribs cooked for days using sous vide are red and juicy.
As for the final product, the meat was extremely tender and delicious. By itself, it most certainly would have been a success and well received, however, served with the bo ssäm and pork belly ssäm, it didn’t win the night. I believe it received one vote for best of the night. It was very good, but, at the end of the day, it’s extremely difficult to compete with pork belly…