Perfectly cooked, tender with just the right degree of flakiness. That is the holy grail for cooking fish – a thin line between raw and overcooked (better to err towards the former). We’ve baked cod, poached it but never tried sous vide cod. Here we prepared a simple cod recipe, in which we paired it with some steamed bok choi and a chilli and lime salsa verde.
IF you are not familiar with sous vide, then read our primer here. Briefly, sous vide means ‘under vacuum’. Cooking food in vacuum-sealed bags in a water bath at precise temperatures make it easy to get the food cooked just right. Technically it cannot overcook so it is helpful if you are busy, and we have found it invaluable for prepping complex meals which have lots of components ahead of time. The water bath heats the food to a set temperature. The length of time you leave it in the sous vide depends on the thickness of the food, and hence the time taken for the centre of your food to reach the desired temperature.
So if you wanted slightly undercooked steak or fish, you would go for a lower temperature than for a medium or well done piece.
Fish is something that tastes awful if overcooked so we err on the side of a lower temperature and if you want a brown finish sear the fish in a frying pan briefly once cooked – poached food will not brown.
Having used the Sousvide Supreme water oven we were offered the chance to look at a different set up (by the same manufacturer) by Sous Vide Tools. A thermal circulator that can attach to any large pot. Theoretically a huge advantage as you would be able to avoid having a water bath take up space on your counter permanently. Instead whip out the thermal circulator as and when needed. Attach to pot, fill with water and voila.
Except that this is a big device, so you need a deep pot or you can use a gastronorme (a big container that can take the depth and capacity you need). The great thing is that once you are done, you can pack the circulator in to the gastronorme and store it in a cupboard.
Cooking with the thermal circulator is easy and convenient. Filling the gastronorme or a large pot with water is a lot less clunky than filling a sous vide machine.
We have enjoyed cooking sous vide for all kinds of food – from perfectly cooked meat (cheaper cuts work particularly well when cooked over extended periods) to vegetables to fruit and now to fish. We have even used it to cook the base for ice creams – packing the ingredients into a bag, immersing into a water bath and allowing things to infuse without worrying about scalding the cream.
The other good thing about this set up compared to a traditional water bath machine is that you can keep an eye on the food through the side of the gastronorme (it is a clear polycarbonate tub).
Whilst sous vide cooking is not going to replace everyday cooking – it needs planning and if you have different components needing different temperatures you’d need to do them separately – it is a tool which when you respect and understand the nature of the food, you can get it cooked to the point where it is tender but not breaking down.
It is precision cooking, scientific and modern. Some feel it detracts from the soul and heart of cooking – the feel and smell of food as it cooks. To some degree this is true, and sous vide is at it’s most useful when cooking for bigger groups. Six to ten pieces of steak or fish will turn out perfectly with minimal effort compared to cooking them conventionally.
The best way though to use this technology is to incorporate it into elements of a dish. As we’ve done here, pairing our fish with steamed vegetables and a salsa verde whizzed up in the food processor.
We will be doing some recipes for Sous Vide Tools over the next few weeks so if you have an interest in this type of cooking, keep an eye out and we will flag it up on the site here.
- 2 Cod loin pieces
- Salt and Pepper for seasoning
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 to 6 pieces of bok choi
- 1 large handful basil
- 1 large handful flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon caper berries
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small green chilli
- Rub the cod fillets with salt and leave to brine for 30 minutes.
- Rinse off the salt and pat dry
- Fill your sous vide container with water and set the temperature to 55DegC (132DegF).
- Season the cod with salt and pepper.
- Place the fish into a sous vide or ziplock with a teaspoon of thyme and olive oil. Vacuum seal.
- Cook for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You can check whether the fish is done by pressing it gently to see if it is flaking
- Heat a pan of water and place a steaming basket above it.
- Cut the bok choi into half and steam for 5 minutes till cooked but still firm.
- Plunge the bok choi into ice cold water and set aside. This will preserve the green colour of the vegetable.
- Put the herbs, caper berries, lime juice, olive oil and chilli in a food processor.
- Blitz into a paste.
- When the fish is cooked, remove from bags and plate up.
- Reheat the bok choi quickly in a microwave for 20 seconds on high.
- Serve the vegetable alongside the fish and add the salsa verde.
- A couple of dots of sriracha adds a little further heat if you are so inclined
You can sub the book choi for pak choi, spinach or other greens, just take a couple of handfuls of greens, steam and serve alongside the fish.
More lovely sous vide fish recipes:
This amazing nori-wrapped black cod,
An umami rich poached cod with Asian broth
and this Curry spiced salmon with chicory