I finally got around to making Sous Vide steak. The first and most important lesson learned is that recipes can’t help you much. They really serve only as a guide and you have to learn by experience. Both times i tried making Sous Vide steak, they ended up being overcooked.
As you can see from the title of this post, i deliberately cooked steak on two consecutive days, the first day using the Anova Precision Cooker, and the second using a crock pot (or more commonly known as a slow cooker in Singapore). As expected, there isn’t any noticeable difference in the result obtained from the two methods. And why should there be, when you can observe that the water bath temperature hovers around the same range, even though the Anova maintains it more accurately?
I tried to compare the electricity usage of the two methods as well, but because of the short cooking time involved (1 hour or less), they both used less than 0.2 kWh (and it costs 17.68 cents per kWh), which is little. Perhaps in the case where a 12 hours cooking time is involved, i will be able to see a difference, but i suspect the difference would be nominal. A crock pot is designed to be have minimal heat loss (the ceramic material, glass lid and polished metallic interior surface), whereas with the Anova, you’ll have to figure out yourself how to minimize heat loss when cooking.
I expected that the crock pot would take a long time to heat up the water bath, but i was proven wrong. I didn’t measure exactly, but it felt like it took roughly the same time to bring the water bath to the target temperature of 55°C used for cooking the steak.
Another point worth comparing between the two is, with a crock pot, you have almost the entire space of the pot (i used a rack to prevent the Sous Vide pouch from touching the bottom of the pot where the heating element is) to do the cooking, whereas the Anova Precision Cooker actually does take up a significant space inside the pot.
Overall, i think the Anova still wins, simply because it is able to maintain the cooking temperature precisely, and this might make a difference to the outcome, which is what matters most.
As for how the steak turned out, well, it was good despite being overcooked (past medium well). It was evenly cooked, and this was much better than what i normally got by cooking directly in the pan. The recipes i have referenced called for 45 minutes to 90 minutes of cooking time, and i did so. The steak that was cooked 45 minutes was more juicy than the one cooked for just over an hour. The overcooking could be due to using a 1cm instead of 1 inch thick steak, and i now know that i need to adjust the cooking time down to probably just half an hour.
I torched the steak while searing it, and even though it didn’t seem to do as much charring as i wanted, it helped nevertheless. I used frozen ribeye steak (costing under S$7 for 200-250 grams) and it came out just fine. I don’t eat steak at restaurants much, and now i have lesser reasons to.