Sous vide is the process where food is vacuum sealed and cooked in a water bath. It’s used by professional chefs, mass caterers and is gradually making it’s way into the domestic kitchen. I’m no stranger to sous vide. I’ve been writing about it for many years, and have been lucky enough to own a full size sous vide machine for a while. But the size and cost of these gadgets can be prohibitive. This is where the Codlo sous vide gadget comes in.
Really, what do you need for sous vide? Water at a constant temperature. Not inordinately difficult with a thermometer and an insulated container (such as a cool box) but plenty of faff. Codlo us essentially a thermometer, timer and resistor all in one. By using a kitchen appliance you possibly already have, such as a slow cooker or rice cooker, the Codlo converts it into a sous vide machine.
How does it work?
Plug your gadget into the Codlo, then plug this into your socket. Then drape the probe into the water. Set your temperature and timer, and press go. Off it goes! The probe measures the temperature of the water, cuts off power to your slow cooker if it’s too hot, and lets it back on to warm it up again. It merrily ticks away like this and the timer bleeps when it’s done. Simple.
It’s a very, very pretty device. The smooth curves, smart LCD screen and cool packaging scream of a well-designed product. It’s immaculate. And because all you’re doing is dipping the probe into water there’s no cleaning up to do.
I tried a bunch of things in it to give it a proper road test. The first thing the instructions ask you to try are eggs, so I did exactly that – but scotch eggs. I’m not a huge fan of the super runny egg, so 45 minutes at 66C, followed by a brisk deep frying and a gentle bake brings them out just the way I like them – set like jelly!
Chicken on the BBQ can be hit and miss between anaemic raw meat and leathery charcoal. Pre-cooking avoids this and sous vide is the perfect way to ensure your meat is fully cooked before finishing them on the BBQ for that smoky edge. I tried some chicken kebabs, and then flamed them on the barbecue.
Tandoori chicken on the BBQ. That’s Monday night food. A photo posted by Gary Fenn (@thebigspud) on
It comes out gloriously juicy as it hasn’t spent ages drying out over the coals. I also cooked a bunch of mixed fish for a Heston fish pie. It was pretty epic.
Sous vide fish ready for a pie A photo posted by Gary Fenn (@thebigspud) on
Top tip: fill the cooker with slightly hotter water than you think you need and let it come down to temperature rather than come up. It takes much longer to warm the water than it does to cool it down (you can leave the lid open or add an ice cube to chivvy things along). I find about two thirds boiling water from a kettle and a third water straight from the cold tap is a good starting point.
The results are identical to cooking in a more expensive machine. I cannot tell any difference. With that in mind I give it my strongest recommendation. If you have a water cooking gadget already such as a slow cooker and would like to try sous vide then you must give it a go.
One thing is that you will need a vacuum sealer – such as such as this one. But whether you buy a Codlo or larger unit, you’ll have to buy this anyway. The Codlo unit itself is £119, versus ~£350 for a SousVide Supreme.
And why should you sous vide? For me it’s the perfect medium for cooking many things – once you’ve tried a steak in a sous vide you won’t want it any other way. The melting middle is just what you’re after. Chicken wings and thighs also go perfectly in it. And while some may sneer at boiling an egg for 45 minutes, the margin of error in the traditional method is so narrow – I’m sure we’ve all left eggs 30 seconds too long when soft boiling – sous vide is no extra effort. And sous vide is great at cooking larger quantities too.
I was sent a Codlo to review. You can buy one from this link, and I’ll get a kickback for doing so (the price is the same to you).