Sous vide cooking offers a greater level of control than chefs have ever enjoyed before when cooking. And, developing new sous vide recipes can be exciting for both you and your guests. But, in your enthusiasm, there are a few tasting tips to abide by to avoid ruining your new dish.
While exceptions can always be made by a skilled chef, some combinations are food bombs waiting to happen. It takes precision to mix certain ingredients, and the busy line cooks at chain restaurants rarely have the time to be so precise.
So be careful with the following pairs:
1. Light Fish and Heavy Wines
Flaky cod, mild salmon and other light-flavored fish all come out tender and moist in your sous vide. When making marinades or sauces to complement these dishes, avoid using heavy red wines. Too much of a strong wine can completely overpower the delicate flavor of your fish and create an unbalanced dish.
2. Butter and Steak
When making a perfectly cooked steak in your sous vide, it's natural to want to try adding some of the dish's usual accompaniments during cooking. While plenty of chefs will finish off a steak with a pat of high quality butter, not many recipes call for steak to be cooked in butter. It takes a careful hand when adding moist ingredients like butter as too much liquid can drain flavor from the meat.
When you want to add a little flair—and a burst of flavor— to your dishes, save the butter for when steaks are served. It’s a fast an easy finishing touch for your line cooks, and butters flavored with herbs, spices or sharp cheeses make an indulgent foil for a tender, perfectly cooked filet.
3. Wild Mushrooms and Alcohol
Thinking of making a mixed mushroom and wine reduction to go with your meat-based sous vide recipes? There's a chance you could give some of your guests upset stomachs.
Many mushrooms that are perfectly edible by themselves do not mix well with alcohol. Mushrooms like the shaggy mane and inky cap contain a chemical called coprine that inhibits the body's ability to metabolize alcohol properly, leading to symptoms associated with a hangover that linger for days.
If you do wish to cook alcohol and wild mushrooms together, make sure to have your line cooks brush up on their mycology.
4. Dairy and Lemon
Sous vide cookery allows you to make light and creamy custard-based desserts. But, when seeking flavor combinations, tread carefully when dealing with dairy and anything acidic. It takes a highly skilled chef to mix these flavors successfully as acidic wines, lemon juice and vinegars can cause milk or cream to curdle, and your line cooks may not have the time or skill for such precision. If you need a lemon flavor in your dairy, consider using lemon zest in your custard and adding extra lemon punch with a sauce.
5. Truffles and Onions
It can be natural to reach for all sorts of favorite aromatics when concocting a new dish. But, onions, garlic and other strong tastes will only fight with the truffles, leaving a flavor that is muddy at best. Additionally, leave the truffles themselves out of your sous vide recipes as too much heat can destroy their flavor. If you want that pungent punch of flavor, add a few shavings as a finisher.
The list of foods that make poor bedfellows can seem endless.
However, rather than worrying too much about food rules when devising sous vide recipes, think instead about the final impression you want your dish to make. Try new things cautiously and learn ways that unexpected ingredients can be brought together harmoniously.
In the end, education about complementing flavors and a knowledge of how ingredients work together when heat is applied can help you find your way to unique and memorable tastes.