World Cuisine At Home

The Wife and I had a dinner party for two other married couples and a single friend over the weekend. But I did not have to miss substantial amounts of time, and found preparation significantly well relaxed, because of good planning and the magic of my sous vide oven allowing me to cheat on prep time.

Carroti con cippoli tostati — hunks of carrot, simmered in some butter, two crushed cloves of garlic, and a an onion, chopped and toasted dry — were sealed in one bag. Patate confit basilic — whole peeled russet potatoes, with rendered bacon fat, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper — were sealed in another. These were prepared a day ahead of time at 185 degrees for three hours each, and flash-frozen in ice water before being set aside.

The tri-tip roast — which is really a half of the bottom sirloin — received its own generous helping of onions, worchesteshire sauce, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, and assorted herbs. This was bagged the night before, and cooked at 128 degrees for six hours, achieving perfect rareness all the way through and melt-in-your mouth tenderness for which sous vide is so useful.

The day of the party, I prepared a chimmichurri to go with it, but finding myself embarassingly short of olive oil, I used grapeseed oil instead. My chimmichurri is simple: oil, garlic, oregano, and parsley, with a sprinkling of salt. That got done several hours before the party, as well. I know some cooks go all crazy and put in all sorts of weird stuff into their chimmichurri, but I already had enough flavors working in the meat anyway.

This left only an appetizer and a dessert, which was where I could spend the remainder of my actual cooking time. This was simpler than it seemed. Orange-and-peanut sauce is simple enough, and something I learned to really enjoy when I briefly dated an Indonesian woman shortly after law school. Emulsify some vegetable oil with some salt and red pepper flakes. Chop in some green onions, very fine, and set in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in a little bit more than a quarter cup of creamy peanut butter, or better yet freshly-ground peanuts, maybe a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, and stir in about four ounces of orange juice. Keep stirring until the consistency is smooth and uniform, and keep it just at a boil. Then steam up some shrimp and you’ve got yourself a satay (if you put them on a stick), or a shrimp cocktail, which Google told me translates as “udang dengan kuah kacang oren” in Malay.

Dessert was chips and salsa. Those not-very-good-for-you cinammon crisps you get at taco-themed fast food restaraunts are easy enough to duplicate, and even exceed, at home. Buy some flour tortillas, and brush them with melted butter. Cut them into sixths or eighths using a pizza cutter. Then coat them with a mixture of cinammon and sugar, and bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. If that sounds like cinammon toast, except on a tortilla, well, that’s right. The salsa is an even better trick — husk out a bunch of strawberries and then macerate them with a flat-ended spoon. Soon enough, they get to looking like tomato pulp. Add in some finely-julienned apples and you get the look and texture of onions — and if you had the foresight to use green apples, that adds some color reminiscent of cilantro. I fished it up by mixing in some hibiscus-flavored pears, which made the whole salsa too purple, but had I exercised the prudence to leave well enough alone, the visual effect would have been really good. Granted, I’m far from standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Thomas Keller or Grant Achatz here, but this is my first nouvelle cuisine dish, taking the look and texture of one kind of food and delivering a different taste experience with it, and while I doubt the idea is particularly original, I did think of it all on my own.

But as proud as I was of taking a decent stab at an intermediate-level meal like this was my use of the many kitchen gadgets and tools to get it done at a relaxed, comfortable pace. I’d done half the work before I even started really cooking for the party. The tricky part was remembering to re-therm the potatoes and carrots in the same bath the meat was in. It only re-thermed to 128 degrees, but that turned out fine; the food was all warm and none of it lasted long enough to cool off. Turns out that seven people can demolish a tri tip roast even with all these other fixings along with it in no time, so the low re-therm temperature on my starch and vegetable dishes just never was an issue.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Remind me to trick you into inviting me over to dinner.

    Damn it, now I’m hungry.

  2. Which sous vide oven do you have? I’ve been coveting one for a while, but not sure I trust any of the consumer models, and the Polyscience stuff is out of my price range.

    That’s an interesting variant on Indonesian peanut sauce I haven’t seen before. My wife’s of Indonesian heritage, so we do a fair bit of Indonesian/Malay/Thai at home, too. My quick version that follows the same general pattern of yours involves shallots instead of scallions, sambal oelek in place of crushed red pepper, and most significantly, lime juice in place of orange. The long version involves a lot more steps and a trip to a serious Asian supermarket.

    Did you sear off the tri-tip prior to dressing with the chimi?

    (Oh, and it’s Grant Achatz, not “Aschatz.”)

    • As another of Indonesian heritage married to a LoOGer, our quick version is finely sliced onions, sambal oelek, lemon and some coconut milk for extra creamy goodness.

    • I have the Sous Vide Supreme. You can get it through Amazon for around $400. Costco carried it for less at one time, and I don’t know if they will do so again.

      This time, I didn’t sear the meat because the jus contained a nice color and the meat was sauced. But normally, yes, I char the meat for about a minute per side on a grill before service.

      And thanks for the proofing on Chef Achatz’s name.

  3. Oh my. A great post, about what must have been a sublime meal.

    The carroti con cippoli tostati and patate confit basilica are defiantly being added to the “to do” list. (We’re trying to stay a bit a way from red meat right now, so I will just have to chalk up the try-tip with grape seed chimmichurri as fun food porn.)

    • Chicken and other roast birds work well with chimmichurri. It’s a bit powerful for fish, IMO.

  4. Just a cautionary note on the time and temperature used for your tri-tip roast. 128F for 6 hours is borderline for food safety, even with a highly accurate thermometer. If you are going to cook something for longer than 4 hours, it really ought to be at a level that is sufficient to pasteurize the meat, i.e., 131F/55C, which is how I cook brisket for 72 hours.

    Next time, I would suggest that you butterfly the tri-tip so that it is no more than 57mm thick, and immerse it in a water bath at 130F/54.3C for 3:56. That will bring the core temperature up to your desired 128F safely within the four hour window. (You can model various thickness and temperatures with the SousVide Dash app for the iPhone/iPad.)

    Otherwise, everything sounds delicious!

    • But isn’t it the case that a longer cooking time, even at a slightly cooler temperature, will achieve the same effect of eliminating pathogens?

      Food safety is an important issue when cooking at these temperatures, so I do appreciate the cautionary note about this.

  5. According to, once the interior of the food exceeds 52.3C/126.1F, all known pathogens stop growing and begin to die. However, this can take a long time. Many recommend that the core of the food reach 54.4C/130F within 6 hours to keep Clostridium perfringens to less than 10 generations. The FDA recommends a maximum time of 2 hours above 21C/70F to control the germination, growth, and toxin formation of C. botulinum, which causes botulism. This time will also reduce Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli pathogens to safe levels, at least for those individuals who aren’t immune compromised, e.g, with AIDS, pregnant, or taking immuno-suppressive drugs. Children and the elderly may also be a greater risk.

    And finally, most people don’t use $400 NIST-calibrated thermometers for their sous vide cooking. My testing of over 15 brands of thermometers against such a laboratory instrument has shown errors as great as 5 degrees F. For that reason, I recommend always testing your working thermometer against a liquid, non-mercury basal or ovulation thermometer, which should be accurate to 0.1F within its range.

    • I have consulted Mr. (Dr.?) Baldwin’s guide many times. An invaluable reference, thank you for reposting the link to it, as is your own experience with thermometers, which inspires me to go find one and calibrate the accuracy on my internal thermometer on my nearly two-year-old sous vide oven.

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