Sous Vide Sablefish & Shiso Gelee + Win a Kitchen Scale

posted in: Cooking, Savory | 37

Widespread use of kitchen scales would alleviate many of the world’s problems. This is because most of the issues humanity faces are directly-correlative to doing math. If people had to do less math, they would have more time to focus on important, earth-saving tasks like planting trees (the environment), drinking wine (supporting farmers) and putting condoms on before sex (overpopulation).

Kitchen scales are great because you don’t need to worry about whether you scooped the measuring cup in three times or four, you just add flour until you hit the magic number called for in the recipe. You can also seamlessly switch from the convoluted measuring system the US uses to the sensible metric system found in the rest of the civilized world.

There are other reasons for using kitchen scales besides saving the earth; of course they are less important. Precision is one of them. A teaspoon to you might mean just under the line, whereas to me it is just over. With a scale, two grams is two grams, period. The style of cooking I do requires exact measures of small amounts of powders. 1.4 grams of sodium alginate versus 1.6 can be the difference between a perfect sphere of blueberry puree or a purple-colored bouncy ball not fit for consumption.

As I mentioned before, scales tend to operate in both metric and imperial. This roughly translates to you being able to cook more shit. It also translates to me writing jankier recipes because I tend to toggle between the two but I have adopted the habit of self-caning every time I accidentally do this. I figure if I wind up with enough cane-lashes across the shins, I will cease slutting myself out to two systems and marry the more pragmatic metric once and for all.

I hope you were able to wend your way through this extensive preamble because we’re now to the good part. Normally I am reticent to host giveaways, but I REALLY like scales. The folks at EatSmart have offered to send one of you one of their scales in the color of your choice IF YOU’RE AMERICAN. Normally I wouldn’t host a contest open only to Americans because we are a global society, after all, but in this case I’m ok with it. Americans are the dummies who can’t get with the program and use the right measuring system, so I will do anything I can do to help us as a collective populous see the light outside the cave and weigh things correctly.

In order to win this scale (which gets phenomenal reviews on Amazon, by the way), you have to leave me a comment on this post. You will get bonus points if you also tweet your comment to @SaltySeattle and @EatSmartScales and link to this post on twitter (naturally, you must follow us too). Not being a fan of No Child Left Behind, I believe all contests should be merit-based. We can’t all be winners or else no one would be left to pump the gas in Oregon. Therefore, no random number generator is going to choose the winner- I am (with the help of some likely-tipsy friends).  All you have to say in your comment is what you will measure first with this scale when you get it into your bony clutches. If you want to go ahead and buy a scale that would be great too, as EatSmart is donating 100% of Amazon store proceeds this month and next to charity. See? Kitchen scales DO save the earth.

Now what does all this have to do with Sous Vide Sablefish and Shiso Gelee? Tragically, a lot. You see, I made this orange-brown sugar brined, tamari-laced sablefish, and it was stunning. Sadly, I failed to measure the ingredients and so not only can I not share with you, I also will likely be unable to replicate it. However, I did learn a few things along the way that I CAN share.

Sablefish, or black cod as it is also known, is a regal, buttery fish that is not really a cod at all. It is a sustainable choice, which is not to say you won’t feel guilty eating it since it tastes like pure gold. A remarkable thing about black cod is that the actual flesh- not the skin- of the fish tends to have slicks of black pigment in places, giving it a tattooed appearance. I brined the sablefish, which is not altogether necessary since it is a fatty fish not likely to dry out when cooked (especially sous vide). I did it anyway, because the brine also acts as a marinade, and the saline present in the brine maximizes the mass of the fish which equals unprecedented succulence.

If you come into possession of shiso leaves and you don’t know what to do with them, make gelee. I blanched them for 20 seconds in boiling water along with cilantro, and then I pureed the greens along with a Thai chili, lime juice and lime zest in simple syrup. Some gelatin and a hemispheric mold coerced them to sexily-solidify.

Gelled sauces on fish are worthy of a Mensa-induction. That’s because they provide flavor and viscosity without drowning the delicate nature of fish flesh. Consider for a moment, sex. When engaging in Kamasutral embrace, it is preferable that the monthly visitor, Aunt Flo, is not in the house. This is because she brings with her so much “rain” as to make things slippery beyond sensation. On the other hand, sex with an arid cactus would be prickly and painful. There is a middle-ground, and when you get it right it feels like a Slip N Slide on a summer day with a big finish into a splash pool. Gelled sauces provide the perfect amount of lubricant for fish with no mess. They add notes of spice without overwhelming the taut, delicate texture of a perfectly-cooked fillet.

In addition to the shiso gelee, I served the sablefish with Kabocha squash puree and macadamia nut brittle powder. The Kabocha puree laced the plate like a brilliant amber swath. With tones of lemongrass and coconut milk, it highlighted the succulence of the black cod.

Macadamia nut brittle is what they serve in business class when they serve peanut brittle in coach. The only time I’ve been in first class they served orangutan nut brittle because they were trying to be fancy. I found this altogether tacky (literally). If I wanted to eat a primate’s balls dipped in sugar, I could do that in the pleasure of my own bedroom, thank you very much. I’ll stick to the macadamia nut brittle- which is as pure and good as an altar boy with undescended testicles- and hope for upgrades to business class every time.

It was a dish for the history books, or at least the recipe book. There’s nothing to do but make it again-this time WITH A SCALE.  If you have your own weighty project in the works and the only thing missing is the scale, get your thinking cap on and cleverly comment away. The contest closes Sunday, May 1st and I’ll announce the winner Monday, May 2nd.

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37 Responses

  1. that is a work of art!!

  2. That is some damn sexy sablefish. I’m measuring all the scales I take off a fish, just to get the education.

  3. I’d weigh drugs, lots and lots of drugs. Not real drugs, probably virtual drugs, but i’d dream of weighing these Studio 54 Drugs- .

  4. I’d probably measure anything and everything in my kitchen – just for the pure joy of owning a new gadget!!

  5. I would measure the love that I’m bless-ed to have
    It healed childhood wounds like medicinal salve
    I would measure the flour I’ll put into the cake
    for the birthdays of dear ones I will lovingly bake
    I would measure ingredients from a dear UK friend
    in the recipes I cherish that often she’ll send
    I would measure the times that I thought of good things
    Instead of dwelling on troubles that sometimes life brings
    I would measure the joy that I feel each new day
    and be grateful for all of my blessings, I pray

  6. I can tell you what I wouldn’t weigh – myself. :) I would probably weigh bread making ingredients as I’m working through the BBA. Like I need more carbs in my life, but alas, I can’t help myself. Now pick me!

    <3 ya Linda!

  7. Flour. Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio” book does NOT work using my bare hands for a measuring tool. A 6 ounce lead fishing sinker in one hand and a baggie full of flour in the other trying to estimate the difference in weight just causes me to give up and head for Metro Market for some artsian bread. :(

  8. I would start measuring out the ingredients I have used for my Tequilla BBQ sauce. I’ve wanted to bottle it for sooo long, and haven’t had any motivation to do so (the scale would definitely fix that).

  9. The first thing I would measure would be the meat at my meals. I really don’t have a good idea of what a 4oz piece of meat looks like…

  10. Duck fat. I’d weigh duck fat. I refuse to use those super handy online conversion calculators to convert metric to US, thus am constantly eye-balling what may or may not be the correct amount of duck fat in a certain recipe and am damned curious to see how close I am.

  11. ranger99

    The WEIGHT of the world would be lifted from my shoulders if I should win these fine scales!

  12. I would weigh my admiration for your open discussion of the mechanics of menstrual mashing…but that is beyond measure. So, perhaps we shall settle for ingredients for an old-school weight-based Turkish Delight recipe. This scale will work nicely for pistachios and sugar; I guess I’ll have to use the bathroom one, though, when I find an actual Turk for delight.

    Salacious and gorgeous post, as always!

    Linda Reply:

    @Celia, oh my! you are hilarious.

  13. I would first weigh 4 beautiful salmon filets that I just cut off the entire salmon my friend caught for me down on the Columbia. Then I would devour the salmon!

  14. A beautifully prepared meal! Your writing is amazing (love your meataphores). Where would one find the shiso leaves? Pair with what wine? I would weigh the Machamademia nuts.
    Thank you.

  15. I’d have to say that the first thing I would weigh are all of the roadkill snakes that have been spotting the roads this spring. I’m curious how much some of those bad boys weigh!

  16. Craving measurement system salvation- I’d weigh my copy of the Romanian bible, it seems apropos. And then place the scale in its deserved throne in my kitchen and use it to bake the most fantastic dessert Europe’s hidden villages ever offered me. – Recipe scribbled on the back of a receipt in an old lady’s foreign hand. Metric system – the beloved and yet thus far unobtainable in my home kitchen method. Someday – perhaps sooner than later, eh?

  17. john v phipps

    I had planned to drop some Kasuzuke Cod from Uagimaya in the water for dinner tonight. What temp do you do the cod at?

    Linda Reply:

    @john v phipps, I did 140 F for not too long, then a quick sear to lock in all the caramelized juices I bagged the fillets with. LMK how it goes!

    john v phipps Reply:

    @Linda, It goes well. On a totally different idea… I noticed that Seattle Restaurant Supply in Shoreline is stocking the Texturas supplies and kits.

  18. Loreal

    I don’t want the scale. Just give me the pure, good alter boy. Photos are lovely,Sablefish superb!!!!!

  19. boobfan

    I’d weigh Marisa’s boob too. I just want to see an eleven pound boob. I know, I know, i’m a 180 lb. boob myself.

    marisa Reply:

    @boobfan, you might be a creepy perv, but hey, thanks, my husband would have that covered if I’d let him anywhere near my pregnant, exhausted self.
    I’m the only one with a fan, so do I win????????

  20. My sister gave me a spherification starter gift for my birthday, so the first thing I would do is weigh out the ingredients and start playing! …Actually I would weigh all of the items that happen to be sitting next to the box when I open it. I’ve kind of always wanted to know how much my phone weighs with and without the base. And how that compares to weights of various cell phone models.

  21. If I didn’t have my kitchen scale I would be without my favorite Macedonian baked goods and that is a really bad idea! BUT I could use a new one! :) The one I have is about 5 years old…time to replace it!

    I will first weigh some egg whites… I need to make hubz his favorite birthday cake.

  22. If I had a scale I’d finally use the sweet, old-fashioned manual pasta maker that weighs a ton I was (re)gifted many moons ago. It’s criminal how much dust has gathered on it.

  23. Flour – must weigh flour… so effing important!

  24. I would weigh pork of course. Sausage, pate, offal. It would be tragic to waste that caul fat or leaf lard.

    I grow shiso so you had me jumping up and down (which isn’t a good look for me) with excitement.

    You always can make me smile. mwahhhhh.

    Linda Reply:

    @Janis, you grow it? i must sort that out! love it so much. make those little gelees and you’ll eat the whole batch- you’ve been warned.

  25. The first thing I will measure is chocolate – just because I can!

  26. I am in desperate need of a food scale! The one I have isn’t digital and it’s tiny–which means I can’t weigh a lot of things. I’d use the scale to measure the meats that we cook. It’s hard just eye-balling what a serving is.

  27. I would weigh a single granule of salt, and keep adding one at a time … just to see how sensitive the scale is.

  28. I’m weighing my pussy cat!

  29. I want to win! I have a scale at home but I need one at work to weigh my coffee!

  30. I’d like to weigh my boobs. Because I swear to God they’re at least 11 lbs. apiece right now. Or I could make all the stuff in my new Ideas in Food cookbook since its all precious like you.

    marisa Reply:

    @marisa, precise. you are precious though.

  31. Tricia

    1) I agree – and weigh everything. Though my scale is a piece of schizer and I hate converting recipes to measurements after.

    2) First thing I want to weigh? My husband’s spunk post “snippity snip”. He claims it’ll be “thinner”. It better be. I’m gonna weigh that shit in a disposable container (duh) and make sure he’s not a lying bastard.

    PS would apologize for swearing but um…yeah…submerge me sous vide, I won’t.

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