Precision cooker with all the benefits of sous vide

The Anova Precision Cooker comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Anova Precision Cooker comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. PHOTO: ANOVA

Sous vide cooking, where food is sealed in a bag and immersed in a temperature-controlled water bath, has long been a choice cooking method for many types of food. It can cook almost anything evenly and precisely, while sealing in precious flavour.

But sous vide has always been difficult to do at home. It used to be limited to professional kitchens or culinary hobbyists, as you need a water bath and vacuum sealer to prepare the bags.

The Anova Precision Cooker brings all the benefits of sous vide to the home chef, starting from just $219.

The American company has also made the cooker smart, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The machine, which is about the length of a forearm, clips onto the side of any regular pot. You fill the pot with water, and it circulates and heats it to a precise temperature, and keeps it there.

I must admit that I am not a whiz in the kitchen, but using the Anova to make food was easy even for a first-timer.

The Anova smartphone app that pairs with the cooker is full of recipes and ideas. I decided to start with something easy: steak.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $219 (Bluetooth) or $289 (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) from www.anovaculinary.com

    POWER: 800w (Bluetooth) or 900w (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

I popped a cut into a large Ziploc bag, along with some seasoning, garlic, butter and sprigs of thyme. I set the water to 57 deg C, for medium-rare cooking. As the water began heating up, I left it and went about my chores.

A few minutes later, I got a notification on my phone that the water was ready, so I went back and dropped the bag in.

With the Anova, you do not need a sealed vacuum bag to cook in. Instead, if you lower the food into the water slowly, the water pressure will push the air out of the bag, and you can then snap it shut.

One trick I picked up is to put a butter knife or some other metal cutlery into the bag, to weigh it down and make sure that it does not float above the water line.

I left it in there for three hours, until a notification pinged me. As I was in the middle of something, I left it there for 10 minutes more before taking it out, as the sous vide method has quite a bit of leeway in cooking times.

I then finished it on the stove, giving it a quick sear on all sides, and used the liquid from the bag to make a quick jus.

When I cut it open, it was perfectly done, an even pink from side to side, and the meat had taken a lot of flavour from the garlic and thyme.

With the Anova, you do not need a sealed vacuum bag to cook in. Instead, if you lower the food into the water slowly, the water pressure will push the air out of the bag, and you can then snap it shut.

Because I found it a little too rare, I cranked it up two degrees to 59 the next time I made steak, and it came out perfect. It is this precise control that makes using the Anova such a breeze.

I have also tried it for other meats like salmon and. each time, the results have been fantastic.

So if you are looking for a simple, clean way to get the most out of your food and your time, the Anova Precision Cooker is for you.

•Verdict: A hassle-free, convenient way of cooking perfect meals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Precision cooker with all the benefits of sous vide'. Print Edition | Subscribe