Sous Vide Cooking Sweeps the City
Chef Luc Dendievel deciphers the European style of cooking.
January 31, 2013
If you haven’t heard of sous vide yet, you soon will. This decades-old cooking method is quickly becoming a favored style of “haute cuisine” among chefs in the DC area. The Willard InterContinental Hotel under the culinary leadership of executive chef Luc Dendievel, is the first establishment to be certified in sous vide by the DC Health Department.
So what is sous vide cooking? Food—everything from potatoes to strawberries to tuna—is cooked inside a vacuum-sealed bag in a water bath set at a low temperature for a longer period of time (think 24 hours as opposed to two hours). Dendievel uses the example of cooking duck confit to explain, “...you put it in the oven [at] a very low temperature. You usually cook it at around 275 [degrees] and let it cook very slowly, where here, we do it at 72 [degrees] for 24 hours.” It is also worth noting that the timing and temperatures vary from chef to chef and on what is being cooked. “It’s about temperature control, a degree or half a degree can change everything,” says Dendievel.
The emphasis on fresh product is paramount to sous vide dishes. When cooking at high temperatures, many essential nutrients are lost. “The advantage of sous vide is you don’t destroy any minerals, any vitamins…you keep the flavor intact,” Dendievel explains.
Other District restaurants are showcasing equally impressive menu items prepared sous vide. Chef Lonnie Zoeller of Vinoteca offers a 63 degree egg with handmade linguine, shaved bottarga, squid ink, and hazelnuts. At Graffiato, chef Adam Brick is serving confit of Buddha's Hand, cooked sous vide with orange juice and sugar, with rose hip creme and blood orange granita. Buddha’s Hand is a citron originating in Asia and is available on Graffiato’s Gem tasting menu.
photography courtesy of The Willard Intercontinental (lamb); courtesy of Vinoteca (egg)
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.