Thursday, July 11, 2013

A sous vide experience PLUS Protein Balls

Warning: This is a long post, to make up for not writing anything for a while. Missed you!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a demonstration of Breville’s Sous Vide Supreme.  
I was keen to attend because the demo featured Sydney chef, Pete Evans, who is also a host of TV show, My Kitchen Rules, and infamous activated almonds specialist.

The event was held at the Sydney Seafood School, at the Fish Markets, which meant taking pics of the expensive scampi.

So what he demoed was a tabouli salad with sous vided salmon and crispy salmon skin.

To cook using sous vide, you need a couple of gadgets, namely a vacuum-sealing machine that seals the food in a special plastic bag (gadget no. 1). The meat goes into the bag with some seasoning or marinade, then you put it into the sous vide machine (gadget no. 2).
After the food is cooked (and it’s difficult to overcook given the stable temperature of the sous vide water bath), remove from the bag and serve. You may want to also crisp up the surface of the food in a grill pan (gadget no. 3).

So, sous vide is ideal for foolproof cooking of more expensive cuts of meat, like fillet steak or lamb. The vacuum bag also seals in flavours and cooking smells, so it’s perfect for salmon, which is notorious for stinking out the kitchen and the rest of the house – not pleasant, no matter how tasty the salmon is. Mind you, if you have the space for all the sous vide paraphernalia, then you’d probably have a roomy kitchen with a powerful exhaust system, too, wouldn’t you?

The resulting salmon that Pete Evans  showed us (and which we also prepared ourselves), was beautifully cooked all the way through, with no dry bits or raw bits. And it’s pretty cool to watch the air getting sucked out of the vacuum sealed bag and to break it open after 20 or so minutes to get at the moist and juicy fish.
Me and my mate Pete. These photos are from the iPhone, so a bit blurry (and Pete (nice guy!) took this selfie because his arms are longer than mine...)

Pete Evans is a bit of a health nut (pardon the pun), so I thought I’d share these healthy balls with you. I’ve made these protein balls (aka ‘amazeballs’) a couple of times now, and they always disappear like the clappers, they are so good.

By the way, a bulk food shop recently opened in Balmain, called The Source, and they sell scoops of stuff out of big bins. Things like goji and Inca berries, raw almonds (you need to activate them yourself), chocolate-covered Turkish delight, flours, honey, and even cleaning products for the home. It’s a fantastic place for when you need just a small amount of something and don’t want to buy a whole bag. This is where I got the ingredients for these amazeballs.

Protein balls
makes 25-30

100g raw or toasted cashews, chopped
100g raw or toasted almonds
2 tblsp LSA (linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds, ground)
170g dates, pitted and chopped
100g dried apricots, chopped
100g prunes, pitted and chopped
1 tblsp peanut butter or tahini
2 tblsp cocoa powder
1 tblsp ground cinnamon
2 tblsp honey
Pinch of sea salt
50g desiccated coconut, for coating

1. Combine the cashews, almonds and LSA in a food processor until finely ground.
2. Add the dates, apricots and prunes to the processor and combine until everything is chopped in to very small pieces.
3. Add the peanut butter, cocoa, cinnamon, honey and sea salt and whiz until the mixture starts to form a big, clumpy ball (about 2 minutes).
4. Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into walnut-sized balls (wet your hands first). Roll in coconut and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

recipe adapted from Sydney Morning Herald (June 2013)

Colourful and healthy (?) ingredients.

Mix them all together in a large-ish food processor to get these tasty morsels.