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Chef Keller’s technique for sous vide asparagus tenderizes the rare vegetable’s thicker stalks, yielding ample flavor in a short period of time.
What Is Sous Vide?
Sous vide—French for “under vacuum”—involves removing all of the air from a plastic pouch using a vacuum sealer machine. The role of “sous vide” in “sous vide cooking” is important in that removing all the air from the bag allows the food to cook effectively in the water bath and ensures even cooking by keeping the bag fully submerged in the water. The term “sous vide cooking” is a misnomer because it refers more to cooking food in a hot water bath kept at a precise temperature by equipment known as an immersion circulator. Sous vide cooking yields restaurant-like results, delivering perfectly-moist chicken breasts, short ribs that fall off the bone, and an array of flavorful farmers market vegetables.
Basic Sous Vide Cooking Safety Rules
Certain basic safety rules apply to each step of sous vide:
- Sealing: Chill the food, or sear the food if that is called for and then chill it immediately and thoroughly. Seal the chilled food and either cook it immediately or store it at 3.3°C (38°F) or below.
- Cooking: Cook the food, remove it from the bag, and serve it. Cook the food, leave it in the bag, and chill it in an ice bath to 1°C (34°F) then refrigerate or freeze.
- Storing: Store the food (chilled first if it has been cooked) in the refrigerator at or below about 3.3°C (38°F) or freeze it. Defrost food in the refrigerator before using.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Sous Vide White Asparagus Recipe
Serves5–6 as a side dish
Prep Time15 min
Total Time35 min
Cook Time20 min
- 500 grams white asparagus, about ½ -inch diameter, trimmed and peeled
- 6 grams granulated sugar
- 6 grams kosher salt
- 250 grams cold milk
- 30 grams unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes
- Maldon sea salt
- Plastic container for water bath
- Immersion circulator
- Single-use gloves
- Vacuum sealer bag
- Chamber vacuum sealer
- Aluminum foil
- Kitchen scissors
- Cooling rack set over a sheet pan
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Loaf pan
- Snap off the fibrous bottom sections of asparagus spears. (To do this, gently hold the center of the stem with one hand and the base with the other, then snap.) The bottoms should break off cleanly where they meet the tender part of the spear.
- Use a chef’s knife to trim and straighten the ends of the asparagus. For each spear: Position the spear on the surface of an overturned loaf pan to elevate the asparagus off the table while peeling. Peel the spear starting 1 ½ inches below the tip.
- Prepare a water bath with an immersion circulator set to 85°C.
- Place the asparagus spears in a single layer into a vacuum sealer bag. Add the sugar, salt, and milk. Vacuum seal the bag and place it into the 85°C water bath. Cover the water bath container with aluminum foil to retain heat and minimize evaporation.
- Cook the asparagus for 20 minutes, or until tender.
- Cut the bag open and slide the asparagus onto the cooling rack set over a sheet pan to drain. Arrange the asparagus spears on a serving plate. Top with the butter and finish with Maldon sea salt.
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