This last fortnight has been filled with culinary experimentation.
The arrival of our sous vide kit from SousVideTools.com has brought with it much excitement mixed with a little bit of fear. It’s a scientific way of cooking but my brain doesn’t work in a particularly scientific way, so I’ve been venturing into unfamiliar territory where my kitchen instincts have all but left me. With my hob and oven I know what’s what – how long things take and at what temperature, but with the sous vide it’s a totally new ball game.
My Polyscience kit comes with a temperature and time guide, and for cuts that aren’t included in it I’ve been able to pretty easily search out recipes on the internet, which has all led to some great dinnertime successes. But it’s not been easy to find time and temperature guidelines for some other things I’ve tried cooking (like pork shoulder steaks) which meant while they tasted excellent they just weren’t tender enough, basically I need more practice.
As my nearest and dearest know, I am not a giver-upper. I may still be feeling my way with it but I’m enjoying every minute. And by creating a list of what I’ve been cooking, for how long and the results achieved, I should be able to cook with greater confidence quite quickly.
Needless to say, I’m only going to be blogging the dishes that turn out delicious – and chicken breast cooked sous vide is a thing of majesty. Juicy and plump – just as it was before it was cooked, you can’t even see the fibers of the meat when you cut through or bite into it.
I marinaded a flattened chicken breast in a homemade Thai spice mix mixed through natural yogurt and let it sit in the fridge for 12 hours. The yogurt really penetrates the meat and helps the spices permeate the meat deliciously. After that I vacuumed the chicken breasts separately in their pouches and cooked them in the water bath. Now, when they come out of the sous vide they look DREADFUL (see pic for pale, shiny liver-like piece of chook), but fear not – they have been transformed and only take a little more work to make them perfect.
Frying of them in a super hot pan sears the outside and begins to brown the yogurt, but because the chicken has already been cooked you only need to do this for a short time – otherwise the fibers of the meat will tense up and the process will have been a waste. If you aren’t sous viding them, simply take the marinated chicken and cook it in the frying pan the same way but cook it longer until the meat is cooked through.
The combination of the juicy and fragrant chicken works perfectly with crunchy carrot noodles and rich peanut satay, and the black onion seeds elevate the simple tortilla wraps giving them extra flavour and texture. They eat very well with beers and maybe a few cheeky Thai style wedges like these.
For four large wraps
First the zingy carrot noodles
- 1 large carrot, I have a noodle making contraption called a spiralizer for vegetables but if you don’t have one simply use a grater. Peel, top and tail and spiralized or grated
- 25mls lime juice
- 25mls soy sauce
- A little freshly minced ginger
For the satay (adapted slightly from this Gordon Ramsay recipe)
- 1 small red onion, peeled and topped
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp tamarind pulp
- 5 tbsp wholenut/crunchy peanut butter
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100mls coconut milk
- 50mls water
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
For the Thai chicken
- 30g of my Thai Blend, or:
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground galangal
- 1 tsp ground lemongrass
- 1 tsp ground star anise
- 1 tsp ground green peppercorns
- 1 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp ground garlic
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Juice of half a lime
- 500mls natural yogurt – don’t use one that is an extra low fat variety
- 4 chicken breasts, between baking paper and flattened out with a rolling pin or meat mallet Coriander to serve
For the wraps – makes six large wraps so you’ll have two left over
- 245g plain flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8g black onion seeds
- 50mls vegetable or groundnut oil
- 130mls warm water
- Start with the chicken marinade. Mix the dry spice ingredients together in a bowl and add the yogurt and lime juice, mix thoroughly. In a tupperware box pour enough yogurt in to cover the base, then lay one breast over the yogurt. Pour more yogurt marinade over it and then lay the next breast over the top, repeat until you have all four of the chicken breasts in the box and they are covered all over with the marinade. Leave in the fridge for 12 hours.
- When they’ve marinaded for that time, take each out of the bowl and put into a sous vide pouch, creating four pouches. Leave them on the kitchen worktop to warm up a little while the sous vide comes to temperature – 64°C. When at temperature place the chicken into the water bath and leave to cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- For the wraps. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly, then add the oil and water and bring together into a dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough springs back a little when prodded, then put in a bowl and cover with clingfilm – leave for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes break the dough into 6 evenish pieces – do not knead it again. Lightly flour a work surface and take the ball of dough and roll it out with a rolling pin. Turning it over and making sure it has flour to prevent sticking. Don’t worry about the wraps being an irregular shape – it adds to their charm. Roll them as thin as you can – when you hear the black onion seeds crunching you know you’ve gone as thin as you’re able to.
- Bring a large frying pan to a high heat (no oil) and lay the first wrap in there. Keep an eye on it and when it begins bubbling up all over, turn it over. You want it to turn pale all over but the bubbles to have turned lightly golden. Remove from the pan and place on baking paper and then top with another sheet. Repeat with the other six wraps and layer them up between baking paper sheets, then cover the whole lot with a damp cloth until needed.
- Now for the satay. Place all the satay ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth, decant into a bowl.
- Take the carrot noodles and place into a bowl, mix together the soy, ginger and lime and pour over the noodles, tossing with your hands until dressed.
- Take the chicken out of the sous vide and out of their pouches. Heat a good non stick frying pan until very very hot and place the chicken into it, wait around 40 seconds to 1 minute and then turn over, once done remove from the pan to a chopping board. Roughly cut the breast meat up into large strips.
- Now for the assembly – carrot noodles on the base of the wrap, then the chicken, followed by the satay and some coriander leaves. Wrap up, stack up and devour.