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May 3, 2010 (Sous Vide Korean BBQ Flank Steak)

Posted 4 May, 2010 at 1:15am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate)

Dinner: I cooked a flank steak sous vide at 55°C (131°F) for about 44 hours in a Korean BBQ marinade (from a jar - but essentially soy sauce, sugar, asian pear puree, garlic, scallions, and ginger). I wanted to try the marinade on a cut not typically used for Korean BBQ. The result was very interesting - the flavors of bulgogi but the texture of the finest and most tender steak. I finished the steak by reducing the liquid in the bag, brushing it over the steak, and searing it over a propane searing burner. I tried cutting the steak across the grain as well as along the grain to see if there would be any difference. With these lengthy cooking times, the collagen has all broken down into gelatin, so there was no longer any toughness to the steak and grain direction makes no difference. It was still firm (not mushy like what some tenderizing agents will do) but very tender.
Sous Vide Korean BBQ Flank Steak

Tina sauteed some turnip greens with garlic and cooked rice to go with the steak.
Sauteed Turnip Greens

Lunch: I ate leftover catfish and fries with hushpuppies and cole slaw from Cherry Creek Catfish Company.
Leftover Cherry Creek Catfish Company Fried Catfish and Fries

8 comments to May 3, 2010 (Sous Vide Korean BBQ Flank Steak)

Kay, May 4th, 2010 at 2:38 am:

  • Wow! I don't know if Icould be so patient. Looks super yum! And Cherry Creek is always good, too.

Nate @ House of Annie, May 4th, 2010 at 2:45 am:

  • What is the maximum amount of time something like that can cook?

Paul, May 4th, 2010 at 7:16 am:

  • Michael,

    Are you still using the rice cooker for the sous vide recipes? If so, I thought rice cookers had a 'pre-set' temp that you couldn't vary. Does yours have an adjustable temp feature? What model are you using if you're willing to share? Strange since rice can't be cooked at 131. Also, do you need to reset the cook time periodically as I assume you can't just dial in 44 hours of continuous cooking.



Michael Chu, May 4th, 2010 at 10:10 am:

  • Kay, It's not so bad when you've got other stuff to eat… in fact, I was only planning on cooking it for 18 hours, but we got busy and found ourselves away from home on Sunday, so I decided to cook it for one more day.

    Nate, I don't know what the maximum amount time you can cook beef (or flank steak) is… Since the temperature is high enough to pasteurize (albeit over a couple hours), the food is sterile. The temperature is not high enough to denature the proteins responsible for toughening the meat, so you shouldn't result in tough meat over time…

    Paul, I currently have two setups. Both utilize an Auber Instruments temperature controller which has a waterproof thermometer probe which you place in the cooking vessel. The cooking device is then plugged into the controller instead of the wall and the controller will cycle the power as necessary to maintain the desired temperature. If you're familiar with controller systems, it's just a PID controller that can supply 1800 W. I have a small Black & Decker rice cooker that I use for small items and eggs as well as a 23-cup Panasonic Commercial rice cooker which I use for steaks and chops.

    You can use any cooking device that heats past your target temperature and turns on immediately when the power is restored to the unit (so no fancy electronic rice cookers which you have to program - just the mechanical switch kind). Slow cookers work too, but supposedly the circulation due to convection does not work as well because the heating elements are on the sides instead of the bottom. (Same as electric roasters.) I haven't experimented with those claims yet though.

Paul, May 4th, 2010 at 12:08 pm:

  • Michael,

    Excellent info; it all makes sense now.


Michael Chu, May 4th, 2010 at 12:22 pm:

  • Sorry for any confusion earlier!

Drew, May 4th, 2010 at 4:52 pm:

  • Hi Michael — So, what do you use to vacuum seal the food? I've read that the consumer versions of vacuum sealers tend to suck out the marinade and make sealing difficult.

Michael Chu, May 4th, 2010 at 9:24 pm:

  • I use a FoodSaver to vacuum seal. Where there is a decent amount of marinade, very little gets sucked out (a few drops). With the flank steak, I poured the marinade into the bag first, inserted the large steak which helped keep the sauce from flowing. No sauce was lost during the seal. Then I massaged the liquid to envelope the meat before depositing it into the water bath.

    For very difficult to seal situations, the best course of action is to make ice cubes of the sauce or marinade and insert them into the bag. No problems during sealing (but requires planning ahead a little more).