The Ranting Reviewer does not get paid or receive any revenue from manufacturers or retailers of products reviewed. I occasionally receive products that I am asked to use and see what I think. I take a look, try them out and tell you all about them.
Recently I showed you the Oliso Pro Smart Vacuum Sealer. While a great product in its own right, it is a good companion to what I am going to show you today.
Sous Vide is a method of cooking where raw food is placed in plastic bags and vacuum sealed, removing all the air (hence the need for the Oliso Pro Smart Vacuum Sealer). The bags are then placed in a water bath of precisely controlled temperature, set to a temperature much lower than you would set your oven to. Cooking often takes significantly longer, but with the lower temperatures and vacuum-sealed bags, the food ends up cooked more evenly and meats are more juicy. The precision is key.
Think of your normal cooking. Fire up the grill. It gets so much hotter than you want the food to end up. Preheating the oven? That 350 degrees is more than double what you want the chicken you put into that oven to end up at. Boiling something? Still too hot. Standard cooking has you create more heat than you need and hope you stop the cooking just in time. Leave that steak on the grill five minutes too long? Charcoal is the result. Want to eat that chicken that has been in the oven an extra 20 minutes? Dry, dry, dry. With Sous Vide, you bring the water to the temperature you want the food to end up at and wait for the food to get to that precise temperature.
Because food takes longer to come up to temperature, you don’t need to cook it as high. We’ve all heard (and I’ve repeated) that you need to cook chicken to 165 degrees to be safe from dangerous bacteria. That is true, in a way. At 165, harmful bacteria is killed instantly. At 160, it takes a few minutes. At 155 a little longer. By the time you get down to 131 degrees, it may take 30+ minutes. So if you cook a piece of chicken at 145 degrees, you can still get it safe.
The Smart Hub is comprised of two main parts: the Induction SmartHub cooktop and the Precision SmartTub.
The Induction SmartHub cooktop is very similar to the portable cooktops you might see at the omelette station at a Sunday brunch in a fine hotel. The flat, smooth top is built not only for the Induction SmartHub but for any pot or pan designed for an induction cooktop. Many of medium or higher quality pots and pans sold over the last ten years are likely induction ready. Look at the bottom of your pan. If there is a metal ring on the bottom, it is likely induction ready.
Time to discuss induction vs standard (conduction) cooking. With standard cooking heat is produced via a flame (gas) or running electricity through resistant metal until it heats up. The cooking vessel is placed on or near the heat source and the heat is conducted from the source into the cooking vessel. While this is the method that has been used since fire was invented, it is not very efficient. Much of the heat is lost into the air and in heating up the cooking mechanism.
Induction cooking is performed using electro-magnetic force. The cooktop very quickly switches between the two magnetic forces. The cooking vessel, which also is magnetic, responds to the change in the varying forces much like an electrical transformer and because of resistance within the pot, heats up. As heat is not transferring between the cooktop and the pot (only magnetic force) the cooktop does not heat up and there is no loss of heat to the air. (Now the cooktop will get warm, only because a hot pot is sitting on top of it, so there is some conduction going from the hot pot back to the cool cooktop).
The Induction SmartHub is easy to use. A power button, selection buttons for time and temp, up and down controls, a lock and a start button is all there is to it. Here I have turned it on. I’ve set the temperature to 134 degrees and it senses the current water temperature is 62.
Let’s turn to the Precision SmartTub.
This deep tub has a glass top that fits snugly.
The tray and spacer fit right in.
Inside you will see a minimum fill line and a maximum fill line.
Filled with water to the fill line. If you have small and/or flat items, the minimum fill line will be fine. For larger items, you’ll need more water to make sure the bag is completely covered. Time to cook!
Three lobster tails (meat removed from the shell) with a little lemon juice and butter was the first try. Look for the recipe to post very soon on rantingchef.com. With spices and liquids in the bag with seafood or meat, those flavors infuse so much more completely.
Cooked to perfection. Boiled lobster can easily be overcooked and become rubbery. With Sous Vide you so precisely control the temperature, that it is perfect every time. Because you never have to worry about overcooking it, you can even hold it at temperature for hours.
Seafood is one thing, how about a huge chunk of beef? I’ve spiced this and into the water it goes.
I finished it on the grill (just to get the nice sear). Look at that perfect medium-rare. Every piece is the same. The small end and the thick middle all perfectly cooked. Look for this recipe as well on rantingchef.com.
When you take the Precision SmartTub off, you can use the Induction SmartHub to sear what you just cooked to perfection. I decided instead to make an omelette. The Induction SmartHub recognizes the Precision SmartTub is off the top and allows you to set a heat range from 1-10. 7 is a nice medium-high. The pan heats up more quickly than on a gas or electric range and to the exact level that I want it.
Notice this cooktop is on and cooking my veggies for the omelette. It remains cool (minus some conduction back from the pan). No burning yourself on this cooktop.
My Take: Wow! The Oliso Smart Hub is a piece of equipment that can make any home cook produce such high level cooking that you’d swear it came from a professional chef. For those really looking to elevate their game, this is a way to do it. The Oliso Smart Hub is easy to use, precise in how it maintains temperature and is extremely versatile. I have made chicken breasts in one form or another well over 1000 times in my cooking life. I’ve eaten even more chicken that others have cooked. The first time I made chicken breasts with the Oliso Smart Hub was the juiciest, fall-apart in your mouth chicken I had ever eaten. It was as simple as dropping the vacuum sealed bag into 145 degree water for an hour. Turkey, just awesome. Beef comes out perfect. Seafood is so delicate that Sous Vide cooking with the Oliso Smart Hub is the ideal method.
There are other Sous Vide solutions on the market. Many are simply a post you put into your pot. The precision and efficiency are missing with those solutions. The lack of the induction cooktop forces you to your stove if you wanted to put a sear on the finished product. The Oliso Smart Hub is as highly recommended as I can make it as it is efficient, easy and produces some the most tender meat I have ever cooked. Check it out here.