Sous Vide Appliances for the Home Kitchen

Saturday, October 03, 2015

L-R: Sous Vide Magic, Demi-Supreme, Anova
Top: Codlo
If you do a lot of Sous Vide cooking, and assuming you can afford it, it is useful to have more than one type of appliance.

I have been using Anova, Codlo, Sous Vide Supreme and Sous Vide Magic.

I know this may sound like over-indulging a cook's fascination with kitchen appliances but I don't own all of them. Some are shared with my Mum-in-law and they are also used in my church food ministry. They fulfil a wide range of sous vide cooking needs.

I will let you know what I think of them.

Sous Vide Magic (SVM)


I have electric rice cookers in my home and church. In fact, in my part of the world, this cooker is ubiquitous. You can understand my preference for Sous Vide enablers like Sous Vide Magic and Codlo which turns the humble one-task electric rice cooker into a versatile cooker.

SVM has been a faithful workhorse since I stumbled across it 4 years ago. And it is still puffing. Read the reviews from my first use of it. It looks geeky, like something you have in a chemistry lab. But it works and it can manage the large rice cookers. It is a mainstay in the church's kitchen where 120 eggs are soft-boiled to perfection every Sunday. I am aware that it is not pretty but if you are familiar with using it, looks don't matter very much.

It is mobile, hardy and as long as you have a cooker, it is very handy and reliable. It does take up some desktop space and the wires can get in the way in a small home kitchen.

As this was my first SV appliance, I have some posts on it here.

Sous Vide Supreme Demi

If you have space in your kitchen top, the demi-Supreme is always useful. It sits there all the time. It is efficient as a cooker, with the heating elements at the bottom, thus eliminating the need for a water circulator.

If you want to cook short-rib beef for 48 hours, it can be done, undisturbed. My only beef with it is that you have to move the whole thing to the sink (power cable is detachable) if you want to wash it. I also don't like the feel of the switches, though I have gotten used to it. It can also be difficult to monitor the progress of the timer and you have to click on the timer button to check.

I don't use it to cook soups or stews ("open sous vide") and it is limited to cooking in vacuum packs. I do use it to cook soft-boiled eggs sometimes but it is not my favourite choice for this as you need to clean it if the eggs crack or leak.

As it is rectangular in shape, it is easy to stacked the vacuum-packed slabs of pork belly or short rib beef.

It is the most expensive SV appliance I am using. It belongs to my Mum-in-law and sits in her larger kitchen.

Anova Precision Cooker

I bought this (Anova Precision Cooker) with some high hopes of using it in water coolers when I need the big jobs done. I imagined using it to prepare soft-boiled eggs for a large party and I like the idea that you can do it in just about us any kind of containers.

In theory. For one thing, if you container is full of eggs, you need to make room for the rather bulky heater. And it takes a longer time to heat up the water and the circulator will not do a good job for cooking within a shorter time frame. And oh well, to set both the temperature and timer, it can be confusing to use the rather minimalist panel and button set up.

I have no use for the Smartphone app either. After some early fascination, it has little practical use. The later versions has wifi. Some may find it useful. I am really not sure why I would want this feature. And did I say that is is bulky? While it will not take up kitchen desktop space as it is clipped to the pot, it can be clunky.

It is still good to have around as there are jobs where it shines, such as when you are doing some big cooking and there are no suitable electric cookers around. I don't use it as regularly as my other SV appliances but it is useful for some jobs.

Codlo

Codlo is connected to the power socket directly
By now, you should know that Codlo is my appliance of choice. In my small kitchen, it does not take up any kitchen top space. It is plugged neatly in my power socket. Paired with my rice cooker, it is the perfect soft-boiled eggs maker for the home. Whether it is 4 or 40, it does the job perfectly.

It is intuitive and easy to set the temperature and timer. It is visually helpful with both the color and progressive circular indicator, though the audio cues could be louder. Like the SV Magic, it is easy to monitor the timer's progress.

Highly mobile, I have recommended it often as I find it to be the easiest to use. Till today, I still marvel at it's design and ease of use.

Actually the best feature of Codlo (and SVM) is not found in the gadget itself. The fact is, the rice cooker is a very efficient cooker. As heated water rises to the top, the bottom heater ensures even cooking throughout the pot. You don't need a circulator and of course, you don't need a heater in SVM and Codlo. This explains why both gadget are so hardy, predictable and seldom misbehave. And the simple "up down" rice cooker can last a long time.

Using the Codlo for "Open Sous Vide" - braising short rib beef
As the temperature sensor is food-safe, Codlo can be used for "Open Sous Vide" cooking. I know that technically, this should not be termed Sous Vide as there is no vacuuming involved. I use this method to prepare stews like Bak Kut Teh or braising recipes where I want to control the temperature or opt for unattended cooking. Using it this way, the lines blurs between this and a slow cooker. But this "Open SV" method allows for more precision when it comes to the temperature.

This set up can also be used for double boiling (a term which is a misnomer a s double boiling is about keep the temperature below boiling point for the soup or stew). It is easy of course to remove the inner pot and clean it - something you can't do with Supreme.

What is interesting about Codlo and SVM is that it may well revive an unused electrical cooking gadget in your store. I love they way they empowers other appliances. When I was on Sabbatical in Toronto, I dug out an old flat electrical flat pan which was great to use for meats.

I have reviewed Codlo in a separate article.

Conclusion

For most cooking jobs, SV Magic and Codlo are my favourite appliances. Both are a no-brainers if you use rice cookers or other kinds of electric cookers. I can imagine that in most Asian kitchens, a SV-enabler will be the way to go. By keeping the controller and heater separate, the Sous vide gadget is likely to last longer and you have the option of using a good and efficient heating pot or tray.

If you can afford it and have the space, Supreme is handy to use too. I will keep Anova for the occasional big and mobile jobs.

Have fun experimenting. Sous Vide is where the future of home cooking will be, if not already so.

You can read up or purchase these appliances from these links:

Anova Precision Cooker
Codlo
SousVide Supreme Demi (or purchase through TOTTS)
Sous Vide Magic

It is hard to cook eggs like this without using Sous Vide





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4 comments

  1. I have a Codlo but yet to put into use. Felt intimated somehow as I don't have a rice cooker. Am glad to see more write up on your experience with it. Hopefully I can work on your list of compiled recipes soon.

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  2. I have a Codlo too and i find that because the buzzer sound is so soft it renders the timer effectively useless since the Codlo do not have a auto shutdown mode when the time is up. The danger of it is that you can miss your timings like i did with my eggs and overcook stuff. Now i just use my handphone timer alarm instead.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Hi! May I know what brand of equipment should we use for vacuum sealing of the food items? Also, can we use any type of plastic bag for sous vide? Thanks.

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