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24h Sous Vide Char Siu


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Having had the sous vide boxed away for over a year since we moved, I was keen to find which box it had been stored in, dust it off and give it a go. We’ve been craving Chinese a lot recently and for gluten reasons we’ve been opting to do a fair bit of fakeaway to replicate as best we can. Having seen a char siu experiment on Sous Vide Everything on YouTube, we decided to give it a go. For gluten reasons, we didn’t use fermented bean curd (that and colouring gives it the luminous red look) and had to stick with tamari instead of light and regular soy sauce, but the flavour was pretty good, maybe a little over sweet. We ended up using a recipe from an Australian ex-pat in the end but stuck with the Sous Vide Everything approach of no marinade necessary, 24h at 63degC with sauce in the bag, baste with the sauce after sous vide, grill and top with the remaining sauce. All good, though I struggle with our grill so it didn’t crisp up the outside as much as hoped. But the texture was amazing. I thought 24h was overkill, so might try a 16h next time. I also found that foiling the top of the pan and wrapping round the Anova itself meant I didn’t have to top up the water at all.

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Tasted great too. A little bit of tweaking and I’ll have it nailed. Then we’ll move on to the next obsession!

I’ve read up on sous vide then smoke, but I’m not sure if it’ll work? Would I be able to sustain the internal temperature of a huge lump of beef in the sous vide and then smoke it for 3 hours for a bark? Maybe bark it at a higher temp for a shorter period to prevent overcooking the already at temp inside? Would the sous vide prevent a smoke ring getting in? Lots of questions, but it’d make it easier than constantly trying to maintain the ideal temperature for a 16 hour brisket cook on the smoker.

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23 hours ago, rawce said:

Would the sous vide prevent a smoke ring getting in?

You do not need smoke to get the smoke ring as it is actually caused by a reaction between a protein in the meat called myoglobin, nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO). Nitric oxide and carbon monoxide are gases produced when nitrogen and carbon combine with oxygen in the combustion process. Whilst you will not have CO or NO in your sealed sous vide pouch you can still achieve a smoke ring by using rubs that are naturally high in Nitrate (e.g. includes celery powder) or by adding a little Nitrite Cure. The temperature though is important as the reaction takes place at ~77 C (170 F) so you may need to have the Sous Vide a little hotter to begin with.

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Ah thanks for the info Wade. So if I used the smoker post-sous vide the reaction will still take place and the cooking of the meat in the sous vide doesn’t prevent that? There will still be the NO from the combustion so shouldn’t need to buff up the nitrate content. Plus the smoker will still give me the bark as the outside of the joint dries.

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Yep, just need to decide what to make now! If it means I can sous vide overnight and then only have to focus on the smoker for a few hours of finishing, it’ll be ideal (I don’t have a smart fire or anything on the ProQ) and hopefully best of both worlds.

The only thing I need to give some thought to is to what temperature to set the sous vide to. I see 2 options using a pork shoulder example. Bang on 93 in the sous vide then risk the smoker taking it over for the barking or aim for safe temperature for pork of 63 then let the smoker barking to take it higher and hopefully hit the 93. I might have to try both to see where I get. The only thing that might mess all my planning up is stall, I’m assuming that the sous vide keeps the moisture in, so the moisture driven stall might prevent the internal temperature going up enough. Maybe there’s a third option, sous vide to the halfway point at 78 and then smoke until 93. Dunno, thinking out loud here, the proof of the pudding is in the cooking I guess.

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Yes, I think when I looked into it before, another place had said use the sous vide, then cool, then reheat/smoke like this one, so that must be the correct approach. I wonder if that’s for texture or food safety? My thought was get the internal up to temp and finish the outer in the smoker for the ring/bark, though there’s a risk of taking the temperature too high. I guess the above way means that the sous vide gives you the ideal texture and then the smoker gives you the finish, and even though 3 hours on what looks like a hotter cook will not hit the magic internal temp for the perfect texture, it’ll be warm enough and you’ve already attained that texture temp via sous vide.

Thanks for the link. I’ll start here and adjust if necessary.

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