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Culinary Arts

Simplified Sous Vide: Salmon

Thomas Keller

Lesson time 12:45 min

In this lesson, Chef Keller demonstrates a sous vide technique that doesn’t require any restaurant-grade equipment: just a pot of hot water, a thermometer, and kitchen film.

Thomas Keller
Teaches Cooking Techniques III: Seafood, Sous Vide, and Desserts
Chef Thomas Keller’s third MasterClass is devoted to preparing seafood, sous vide cooking, and making classic desserts.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - As I promised, I want to show you a technique that doesn't require any of the equipment that we use in our restaurants. In fact, when we first started doing sous vide, which we really called slow cooking, we didn't have any of the equipment. And I remember, one of the first things I did was in our plate warmer, which is around 140 degrees, 130 degrees, between 130 and 140 degrees in our plate warmer. I would put a cocotte with a lid on it, milk, and a chicken breast and leave that sitting in there for 45 minutes. By the time I was ready to pick that up for the first meat course in our menu, , that chicken would be poached perfectly in milk, tender, succulent, juicy. That was slow cooking. As we started to become more knowledgeable about sous vide cooking through Bruno Goussault, the father of sous vide cooking today, we started using all the equipment that we have. But in the evolution at our restaurants, we went from milk poached chicken breast to wrapping or compressing our salmon or duck breast in a plastic wrap. And I'm going to show you how to do that and be able to cook it in a pot of hot water with a thermometer and maintain a specific temperature within a degree or so. So it's not precise. It's not as precise as the immersion circulator, but it doesn't require all that equipment. So we have our salmon here. It's about six ounce piece of salmon. And again you see that beautiful, what I always look for is this beautiful fat that's in our salmon. We're going to take a piece of kitchen film, bring it down, adhere it to our table surface here. I'm just going to slice across the top, nice and evenly. And then we want to fold a little fold here, which when we cook it, you'll see why that's important. That'll give us a visual clue, which is obvious where the film are attached together. A piece of salmon, we're going to go ahead and season it. A little bit of salt, that's really it. If you really want to, you can grate some lemon zest on it, put a piece of herb on there. But be careful because wherever those herbs touch our protein, it's going to intensify the flavor of whatever you're putting on top of it. Bring that over, and then compress it. So hopefully you can see that. I'm compressing it into the film, kind of stretching the film and then beginning to roll it. With putting pressure as I'm rolling it to keep it pulled in, stretching the film, compressing, stretching the film, compressing. So that's why we continue to do that. You can see how nice and tight it is. See how nice and tight that is? Compress, pull, wrap. Now we're done there. Now I'm stretching the film. I'm actually stretching the film like a rubber band and then twisting, stretching and twisting, then making a knot in the film and pushing it. This is important. I'm pushing into the flesh of the meat and pulling to make sure that knot goes right up against the salmon there. You see that, how I pulled, cinched right in ...

Elevate your cooking

In his third MasterClass, Chef Thomas Keller focuses on preparing fresh seafood like lobster and salmon, making classic desserts such as apple pie and lemon tart, and showing how sous vide cooking can be done at home to enhance flavor and texture. Whether you’re a beginning or advanced cook, you’ll learn the techniques and principles that will give you the understanding and skills to get the most delicious results.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Fantastic. I totally enjoyed this Master Class. Chef Keller gives the best directions and explanations. It also was nice to see the dessert section as well as the Sous Vide instructions. Thank you for a wonderful experience.

Chef Keller's class has exposed me to a new way of cooking. I'll try it out soon.

I have already make. a few of the dishes I learned , and I am very pleased with the results

Wow! Thomas Keller is truly a genius. Loved this Masterclass and looking forward to cooking some mean dishes T Keller style.


Evelyn W.

Very beautiful! Thanks for sharing this. I am wondering if the plastic film is safe to touch food in 60 degree Celsius? Thank you!

Michael C.

My question is: How does this method yield different results than, say, simply poaching the fish in a poaching liquid with no wrap?


Thank you showing us how to cook sous-vide at home without equipment. Now I’m excited to try it.

Lindy F.

Beautiful as always, but I must say I'm not a fan of my food being squeezed into a cylindrical shape. I'd want my filet of salmon to stay in it's natural, appetizing shape so using a zip top bag and the air displacement method (if I don't vacuum seal) seems easier and keeps the shape.

Brandon E.

A few years ago when immersion cookers and vacuum sealers were expensive and only made for commercial kitchens this kind of method may have made sense but you can get an immersion cooker at Aldi for less than $50 and a vacuum sealer for $50 on Amazon. You'll get MUCH more consistent results with very minimal investment. Also, poking holes in the bag to release air defeats the entire purpose of cooking sous vide. Yes, it's about time and temperature, but it's also about concentration of flavors and even cooking, and NOT poaching the food. If you introduce water into the cooking process, you're essentailly poaching, and you're going to lose flavor and juices in the water. There are several ways to deal with water in the bags, such as weights, clips that hold the bags under water, etc. All are better options than putting holes in the bag.

Daryl C.

Great info for Sous Vide without the system, just a pot, water, temperature control, great stuff!

A fellow student

I'm not worried about the carcinogens as much as just creating plastic waste. I wish there was another material that worked just as well but was reusable.

Margaret E.

I'm also interested in carcinogens in the plastic when heated, getting into the food?

A fellow student

Do you worry about carcinogens in the plastic when heated getting into the food?

Giselle C.

Great! So easy to do at home and I imagine the softness of that salmon is amazing yummy!