Cod Sous-Vide Temperature Experiment

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When you look on-line for the best temperature to cook cod sous-vide, you will find answers ranging from 41C/106F to 60C/140F. On this blog, I have posted a recipes at 41C/106F and 54C/159F. Especially if you are new to sous-vide cooking, these different temperatures may be confusing. And so it is time for another installment in my never-ending series of side-by-side experiments, to compare the different cooking temperatures.

The main conclusion is that all temperatures produce an acceptable result. The temperature you choose to cook cod sous-vide, is therefore mostly a matter of personal preference.

A note about food safety: cooking cod at temperatures below 60C/140F assumes you have ‘sushi grade’ cod, or cod that has been frozen (which will kill parasites). If the cod is not ‘sushi grade’ or frozen, cook it for 50 minutes at 60C/140F.

Cod is a fish that flakes easily and tends to become dry very easily. By cooking it sous-vide, it is however possible to make it unbelievably juicy and tender.

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For this experiment, first I cured the cod for an hour with salt, and then I cooked it sous-vide with good extra virgin olive oil. This is like cooking it ‘confit’, but the advantage of cooking sous-vide is that you only need about a tablespoon of olive oil to surround the fish by olive oil (rather than a saucepan full of oil). And so you can use good quality extra virgin olive oil without having to worry about the cost, and that will make a huge difference.

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I started with a nice piece of cod loin, cut it into 4 pieces, seasoned it with salt, and allowed to salt to cure the fish for an hour in the refrigerator.

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Then I vacuum sealed the four pieces individually, each with a tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil. I labeled the bags with the cooking temperatures, and cooked the cod at each temperature for 30 minutes.

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At 41C/106F, the cod melts in your mouth and is unbelievably juicy and tender. Despite the low temperature, it already starts to flake. Also due to the temperature, it is noticeably lukewarm instead of hot. Still, this is one of my favorites.

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At 46C/115F, the cod has slightly more ‘bite’ to it, which you may prefer. It is however also slightly less juicy and tender. It flakes so much that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to serve it in one piece.

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At 52C/126F, the cod is a bit dry, although the olive oil does help to mask that. At this temperature, it flakes very easily.

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And finally, at 60C/140F, the cod is starting to get quite dry, but due to the olive oil it is still acceptable. It has more bite.

Conclusion

My favorite is 41C/106F, but this may not be for everyone as most people expect cod to be dry and may be put off by the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and lack of ‘bite’. So go as low as you dare.

Flashback

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Pisarei e fasö is a typical dish from the province of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna: breadcrumb gnocchi with beans.

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11 thoughts on “Cod Sous-Vide Temperature Experiment

  1. Thank you your testing. I personally find that just over 50c is great (51-52) but that is my taste. I also dry brine for 30-40 minutes with an 8% salt, 2% sugar mix, then rinse and dry well.
    For me, this gives a perfect consistency, for what it is worth.
    Regards,
    Leif

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stefan, thanks for this very useful comparison. I just bought my first sous vide machine and am still learning. So far I love the rich flavors and have bought a bunch of caste iron pans and skillets to do the meat searing. Some friends mention that plastic bags contain chemicals which ‘seep’ and get in the food cooked sous vide style. Have you heard these concerns before? Also what kind of bags do you use for your vacuum sealer?

    Thanks and keep the articles coming!

    Warm wishes from sunny Singapore.

    -ray

    Like

    • Hi Ray,
      Thanks for visiting.
      I have heard the concerns about chemicals leaking from the plastic bags before. This is not an issue as long as you use bags that are “food grade” and suitable for cooking. This means they are free of phtalate and BPA.
      I use bags that are suitable for my chamber vacuum sealer and suitable for cooking (if you look closely at my photos, you may notice there is red lettering indicating they are safe up to 130C). If you use a ‘clamp’ style vacuum sealer, the bags need to have a certain texture on the inside as otherwise you won’t get a proper vacuum.
      Hope this helps, and please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I hope you will find a lot of nice recipes here.
      Best wishes from the (unseasonably) cold Netherlands,
      Stefan

      Like

  3. I should try. I should buy a sous-vide machine, but it’s very expensive. A slice of cod like this, in a pot, takes a few minutes to be ready. Do you think that the nutrition intake are better in case of sous-vide cooking?

    Like

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