Sous Vide Kauai No Ka ‘Oi
I recently had the opportunity to go to Kauai along with my Sous Chef Noel Gomes as part of the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation (HCEF) chef mentoring program. We did a sous vide class for 35 students in the culinary arts program at Kauai Community College.
Sous vide has a really impressive tradition in top kitchens around the world. Chef Georges Pralus pioneered sous vide as a way of cooking foie gras at the Michelin three star restaurant, Troisgros in France. That was in the 1970s and chefs are continuing to find new applications.
The technique has a lot of advantages from a food quality and cost control standpoint. You can maintain exceptional flavor and moisture plus really beautiful color and texture while still being able to prepare the food many hours in advance. This is one of the big advantages of using the technique when catering events where maintaining really good flavor and texture while still serving a large number of guests can be a challenge.
We went over the basic technique which is using a vacuum sealer to seal whatever you’re preparing along with any spices and cooking in a water bath. When you cook sous vide, literally “under vacuum”, your cooking temperatures are relatively low but you cook everything longer so cooking is very even without losing moisture. You have to maintain the temperature of your water bath within a narrow range and watch the time carefully for each item. We did some short ribs, chicken, fish, eggs and avocado to show just how versatile the technique is. Even the avocado came out amazing.
I’d like to thank the students at KCC for a great experience. They were really receptive to the techniques we were demonstrating and also the part where I get to talk about my experience coming up as a chef. I like to encourage culinary students to pursue cooking as a career and not just a job. There is so much to being a chef that you are always learning, always reaching for the next level. If you just wanted to pursue it as a job, I don’t know, I think I’d hate it. There is a lot of hard work but I was lucky because I knew really young that it was what I wanted to do. It’s been a really gratifying career choice and I hope some of these students feel the same way and really pursue it.
I would also like to thank the Hawaii Culinary Institute who operate the education fund and who sponsored our visit. They are constantly encouraging and supporting culinary education in Hawaii and I am proud to be able to work with them on this program.
Finally I would like to thank Daryl Kaneshiro for hosting us on a bonus field trip after the class where we got to drive ATVs up to the Oma’o Ranch lands. This is where they are raising grass-fed and antibiotic-free lamb. It was a great trip and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to visit Kauai and do something like this.