There is one important cooking technique that is impossible in my home kitchen, and that is searing. I can get good browning, but in order to sear you need your skillet super hot over the highest flames. In order to prevent my smoke detector from going off, I must also use my ventilation system, which is at the back of the stove behind the burners.
When the vent is on at the highest suction position, it literally pulls the flames out-of-place. Sideways.
Highest flame without vent. The vent is on the right of this burner, and this is the front burner.
And with the vent on.
You can see on the left the flames are practically non-existent, the flames are horizontal to the right, and at the front of the photo they’re all over the place.
Searing colors the meat and creates flavor from caramelization. Searing is important to me because it’s an important first or final step when cooking meat Sous Vide. The Sous Vide does the cooking, so all that’s required is searing the outside, without further cooking.
So if you’re trying to sear with my situation, the meat must sit longer in the skillet waiting for a sear, actually cooking the meat more. And this is wrong and practically defeats the purpose of using the sous vide.
I may have a found a solution for this problem, when I was reading a book called Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Cooking, by Justice Stewart. The book was recommended by fellow Sous Vide aficionado, Conor Boffin, of the One Man’s Meat blog.
I purchased the Kindle version of the cookbook; I was less interested in photos and food styling, and more interested in Sous Vide times and temperatures.
But there it was, at the back of the book, a photo of a Searzall attachment, that is placed on a butane torch.
We all own the little butane kitchen torch, I think use mostly for caramelizing the tops of creme caramel. But have you noticed that nasty butane odor? For that reason, I haven’t used mine for years.
Here is the description of the one I ordered from Amazon.
This thing sears without cooking, and doesn’t have the “off-putting aroma often associated with blowtorches.” Problem solved!
The photo on the left shows an example of a little torch like most of us own, compared to my new one. And on the right, the butane torch with the small Searzall attachment.
So to test it out, I seasoned a 24 ounce piece of beef called London Broil, and cooked it in my sous vide machine for 7 hours at 130 degrees F.
When I was ready to sear the beef, I wiped off all of the liquid and some of the remnant seasoning, and brushed on a little oil. And then I seared away!
In case you’re not familiar with a London Broil, it’s wonderfully tender, and a perfect cut to sous vide and share.
That night I served it alongside hummus and a tomato salad.
Notice that beautiful seared outside!
I’m so excited about this searing technique. I’m going to try it on shrimp next!
Wow – that is some complicated work to get a good sear! I am not sure I have ever gotten close to this kind of perfection! Nice work!
Nah, you just screw the thing on the torch. Really easy! I only want to do it to meat I’ve sous vide’d.
Why not use butter?
It just burns too much in my opinion. But I will use bacon grease.
I just started cooking sous vide! I got the America’s Test Kitchen Sous Vide book which you may want to peek at. ;)
You will absolutely love it! Especially for “inferior” cuts of meat. It’s magical!
The hosts on the YouTube channel Sous Vide Everything did a trial of about ten searing methods. A flame thrower won the challenge.
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I’m kinda not surprised!
Mimi, we used to have a Jenn-Air stove that did the same thing, but over here everything is all electric. After reading Justice Stewart’s wonderful book (which I discovered via Conor’s review) I also started searing via flame. It’s a must if you’re into the Sous Vide method of cooking. Great informative post.
Exactly. Home stoves just don’t sear. It’s a great book, isn’t it?!!
I really must get on the sous vide train one of these days… Not only do you get perfectly cooked meat every time, you get to practice your welding skills as well! 😉 Seriously, though, that little torch looks like it would come in handy in any number of situations. I am fortunate to have a stove top that allows me to sear nicely but it becomes quite the production, especially when the fire alarm inevitably goes off!
And I’ve certainly had that happen! I was cooking shrimp once for a crowd and my friend had to talk on the phone with the alarm people. Welding is getting me thinking…
Brilliant solution to the need for searing, Mimi! If I ever get a sous vide, I’ll totally get a Searzall!
That’s interesting. My torch is similar to yours on the left. I may add that searsall to my mother’s day idea list. Looks beautiful.
You’ll love it!
What a terrific gizmo!! My husband wants to grill all year round, rain, sleet or blizzard! So I usually send him out to the grill when I need nice color on my dish. But your solution would work on my timetable, LOL.
I always use one of those propane torches with the blue tank that you find in the plumbing section of any big box hardware store. Seriously high heat without the aroma of a butane torch. Do like that attachment, though — neat idea. Really fun post — thanks.
Oh that’s good to know. Such an unpleasant smell! The attachment is so easy. I’m thinking of a larger one…
I have yet to cook sous vide, but I’ve been interested for a while now. This may be the push I need. And I didn’t even know you could get such a torch attachment. Very cool! (Or hot, rather. ;-)) I love searing meat — that strong sizzling sound when the meat hits the very hot pan is music to my ears. Such a great informative post. Bookmarking the book and torch attachment. Thank you!
Thanks so much. There’s just my husband and I at home now, outside of the occasional party and family get-together. But I own the Sous Vide DEMI, and it’s perfect for just us, or a larger brisket or loin. I use it even more than I thought I would!
I admire your ventilation system! GREG
Really? Well that’s a surprise!
OMG! This is a lifesaver! I have the same issues in my kitchen! I must try this!!! Thank you.
I’m pretty sure most all of us do, unless someone has a commercial kitchen set up. You’ll love it!
I love my Sous Vide and use it most weeks. I have a fabulous book by Dale Prentice (Sous Vide Australia). I haven’t had an issue with searing post Sous Vide but have taken note of your nifty torch attachment. That steak looks perfect!
Thank you. I really love it!
What a fantastic gadget!!
It truly is!
Fascinating! I must show it to my husband who loves beef!
Good idea! Especially if like me your stove doesn’t work ell!
This is a cool attachment! I have a regular blow torch to use on my sous vide meats, but this would work so much better. Thanks for the 411 Mimi!
It does work better and doesn’t have that smell/flavor from the butane.
An interesting post Mimi, thank you. Wherever I cook sous vide, I use my outdoor grill (undercover in our Florida home) to finish the meat as it has a special sear burner that is incredible.
Hi Mimi! Nice post! I think I’m gonna get this thing. I’ve had a pretty good experienced using MAPP fuel. I don’t really detect any taste or smell from it btw. Also, I’ve battled this smoke detector issue for years… and even blow torching sets them off… maybe if I use this attachment things will improve but the only really full-proof method to keep those detectors happy is deep frying. You know I’m a big fan. More than deep frying is flash frying at very high temperatures for really short times using high smoke point cooking oils.