Home Cook? You need a Joule.
Want to knock hours off of your weekly cooking schedule? Keep reading.
I first learned about sous vide cooking back in 2014 when I picked up Tim Ferriss’ book, Four Hour Chef at a public library in Dayton Ohio on a whim. At the time, I was dying to go to culinary school and was grabbing any informational material that would seemingly help me on my journey. I loved Tim’s approach to cooking and life overall— I was already following his blog and he inspired me so much as a person who just seemed to know a little bit of something about everything. For the jacks of all trades out there who read this, you’ve found your tribe. His book is mostly about experimenting in the kitchen, trials and errors, but with Tim doing the nerdy and dirty work so we don’t have to. I finally came to a part in his book where he gave a timeline of his non-formal culinary education, and talked about the time he replicated sous vide in his hotel sink. The passage reads:
THE EDUCATION OF A CULINARY IDIOT
“After four weeks of nervous breakdowns and practically zero progress, I land in Chicago. Two days later, I replicate a two-Michelin-star entrée (sea bass, Ibérico ham, watercress, but- ter, and olive oil) in my hotel bathroom sink with next to nothing: scalding-hot tap water, Ziploc bags, and a cheap Polder thermometer. It’s ready 20 minutes later and finished with a gorgeous crust, courtesy of the iron in the closet. I had learned the technique by watch- ing a chef’s eight-year-old son. All is not lost.”
— Tim Ferris Four Hour Chef
Some years later, in my also informal culinary studies, I saw trained chefs doing what Tim described, using professional equipment and big clear vacuum-sealed bags submerged in even larger transparent tubs. As my culinary knowledge grew and even more so my curiosity, I subscribed to Chef Steps, a platform represented by a team of chefs and writers who were teaching other chefs and even home cooks their tried and true techniques. Chef Steps has always promoted Sous Vide cooking techniques and eventually developed their own sous vide machine, the Joule.
This year after moving to a new place and spending hundreds of dollars on other Breville equipment and being happy with my purchase after some uses, I decided the $199 price tag on the Joule wasn’t so bad. After all, it could be used for so many things from cooking proteins properly to tempering chocolate. Since purchasing the tool, I’ve used my sous vide about once per week with much success. I’ve made a rack of lamb that my 6-year-old daughter almost ate in its entirety, perfectly cooked- flaky- juicy salmon, and my tenderest umami-est ribeye to date. The other great thing about sous vide cooking is it's very “set it and forget it”, which means no more standing over the stove for hours babysitting your dinner. Pop your food items in a vacuum-sealed bag, or a gallon zipped ziplock, (BPA free of course) place it in your sous vide medium, and step away. The Joule even has an accompanying smartphone app that helps you set your temperatures and cooking times and alerts you when your food is done.
As a UX designer who is always looking for ways to improve products there isn’t anything I’d change about Joule. Although it can be admired for its compact, sleek design I love how simple and user-friendly it is. The Joule is currently sold out online via Breville.com but in general, you can find similar sous vide tools out there to start you on your vacuum sealing, water bath cooking journey to replicate chef quality, perfectly cooked dishes in your own kitchen. Happy Cooking!