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Nomiku: Sous-vide cooking for the rest of us

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July 18, 2012

A Nomiku immersion circulator held by one of the designers

A Nomiku immersion circulator held by one of the designers

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Sous-vide cooking is one of the crown jewels of molecular gastronomy. Far from "boil-in-a-bag," sous-vide cooking holds ingredients sealed within a plastic pouch at a truly constant (and low) temperature for hours or days. The resulting food is tender, moist, and other-worldly delicious. Unfortunately, this technique has long been priced out of the home kitchen market, with professional units starting around US$1,500 and from there going into the stratosphere. The Nomiku company changes all that, providing a sous-vide accessory about the size of a hand blender. The price? US$359 retail.

The Nomiku is about the size of a hand blender, so avoids having to dedicate a plot of precious counter space to a dedicated sous-vide cooker - it is designed to clamp onto the side of any cooking pot. The Nomiku circulates ten liters (2.6 US gallons) of water each minute, can provide a water temperature from room temperature to boiling, and maintain a given temperature to within 0.1ºC (0.2ºF). The Nomiku is controlled by an on-off switch and a single knob which sets the temperature, seen on an OLED display.

The Nomiku sous-vide immersion circulator in use clamped to the side of a pot

The Nomiku sous-vide immersion circulator in use clamped to the side of a pot

Sous-vide cooking was first described in 1799 by the American physicist and inventor Count Rumford. After having been largely forgotten for nearly two centuries, the method was adapted and updated in 1974 to serve the demands of gourmet cooking by Georges Pralus, chef of La Maison Troisgros, several times Zagat's "best restaurant in the world." Most haute cuisine restaurants now use the method, which has been popularized by such chefs as Thomas Keller, Joel Robuchon, Charlie Trotter, and Grant Achatz.

Proper sous-vide cooking requires that hot water at a precise temperature be circulated throughout the cooking pot. This is the job of an immersion circulator, a piece of scientific equipment now adapted for the kitchen. Without circulation, the water near the food pouch is cooled by heat transfer to the food. This means that the food is not exposed to a constant cooking temperature, which is responsible for most of the extraordinary benefits of sous-vide. "Sous-vide" cookers without circulation near the price point of the Nomiku have recently enetered the market, but these will not enable the cook to take advantage of the full range of sous-vide cookery.

Consider the egg. The egg has a complex structure whose response to temperature can be finely tuned using sous-vide methods. The most common protein in the egg white coagulates in a few minutes at 84ºC (183ºF), while the yolk coagulates at about 65ºC (149ºF). Chef Joel Robuchon says that his ideal sous-vide egg is held at 63.5ºC for four hours! This gives the yolk a custardy texture unknown in conventional cooking, while giving enough time for the (very slow) coagulation of the egg white to reach the point where the whites are not runny.

Beef short ribs cooked sous-vide at 57C (135F) for 48 hours

Beef short ribs cooked sous-vide at 57C (135F) for 48 hours

Sous-vide cooking produces remarkable results when applied to tough meats. For example, beef short ribs can be held at a temperature of 57ºC (135ºF) for two or three days to allow the enzymes time to tenderize the ribs to a melting texture.Thus, both temperature and time are important variables in sous-vide cookery, especially considering cooking involves not a single chemical reaction, but many that have different characteristic temperatures.

Sous-vide cookery has proven its value both to the professional kitchen and in the home. Yet the ultimate potential of the technique is still unexplored. Devices like the Nomiku immersion circulator now provide the foodies of our world with a vast new ocean to explore. Your boat is waiting at the dock.

Check out the Nomiku promo video below.

Source: Nomiku

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.   All articles by Brian Dodson
8 Comments

Awesome. I've tried sous-vide at home with steak but I had to wrap it in cling-film and manually keep the water at temperature using a thermometer and stirring. It worked ok but what a pain.

The problem I've seen with the usual machines is the huge amount of permanent space they occupy and difficulty in packing them away. Not a problem in professional kitchens where they are used constantly but at home...

I will be adding this to my shopping list next year when I build my dream kitchen.

Scion
18th July, 2012 @ 07:52 pm PDT

Seems like this gadget is inefficient with energy. It would be so much better to use a cooking vessel that's sealed and heavily insulated on all sides to better retain heat. Having an uncovered, uninsulated pot makes the temperature vulnerable to evaporation and fluctuations in kitchen temperature and airflow.

Gadgeteer
18th July, 2012 @ 10:21 pm PDT

Waaaayyyy too expensive - but I'd like one!

The market will grow and within 3 or 4 years I expect 50% of households to have a Sous-vide machine in their house. But as gadgeteer says above, I would expect development to be around enclosed vessels - something along the lines (and size) of a kettle should suffice - just need to regulate the heat. Most home users will only need 2 or 3 liter capacity, and no reason why vertical space couldn't be utilised more than horizontal space (to reduce the footprint on kitchen counter).

Then we'll be seeing the Supermarkets selling sous-vide meat/fish in sealed bags ready for instant insertion into your home sous-vide mahcine.

JPAR
19th July, 2012 @ 02:13 am PDT

A commercial sous-vide operation will use enclosed cooking vessels (water bath, steam oven) with some sort of circulation/convection aid (been there, done that). An open pot will be a big energy waster. Maybe not a problem in an upscale restaurant, or for those of means. I can see a 110v unit being used for supplemental heat for a pot on a burner set to Low. But not having a one-size-fits-many attached lid (silicone maybe?) is quite the oversight.

Bruce H. Anderson
20th July, 2012 @ 01:26 pm PDT

I use an old hotplate with magnetic stirrer and an insulated pot. Bought the plate for $30 a couple of years ago!

kwarks
20th July, 2012 @ 03:18 pm PDT

Thermomix! not so precise with temp, 10 degree increments, but it works

Laurie Cetinic-Dorol
20th July, 2012 @ 04:17 pm PDT

@kwarks--please elaborate

raymm
3rd August, 2012 @ 05:08 am PDT

If it's not safe to heat food in microwaves and some plastic containers, I'm just not comfortable cooking raw food in plastic bags. Deemed safe or not.

I'll stick to other methods of which there are varied and enough.

Thank You.

offthegrid
12th December, 2012 @ 05:34 pm PST
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