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Equipment and Materials
Optional Equipment and Materials
The Maillard reaction begins as a simple reaction between amino acids and sugars found in all protein-rich foods but quickly becomes elaborate: molecules keep reacting in ever more complex ways to generate hundreds of new aromatic molecules that make food smell delicious. These aromas are responsible for the characteristic smells of roasting meat, baking bread, grilling fish, and so on.
Presearing meats, seafood, or other high-protein content foods quickly dehydrates and raises the surface temperature well above 265 °F / 130 °C, which triggers the Maillard reaction. The aromas that result will continue to develop during the low-temperature sous vide cooking step. Often this simple extra step yields a richer flavor than if you only seared the food after sous vide cooking, when there is less time for the flavor to develop.
- By doing the bulk of the searing prior to cooking, when the food is cold, you do the least possible overcooking of the flesh beneath the surface. This enhances the evenness of the cooking—a hallmark of the sous vide process.
- Presearing also dramatically shortens the searing time required after cooking to refresh the crispness of the crust and develop the flavor and appearance of well-seared food. In some cases, it may not even be necessary to sear again after cooking, which greatly simplifies service.
Skip Presearing Sometimes
- We generally don’t recommend presearing lamb. The searing step destabilizes fatty-acids in the cell membranes of the muscle tissue in lamb, which can trigger a cascade of aroma-creating reactions that can lead to a mutton-like aroma during cooking, which is only great if you like mutton.