Ok, half-truth there, not that cheap.
Inspired by this article ‘$75 Sous Vide Immersion Cooker‘ from Make: Magazine. I set out to create my own for US$75, which works out to be about S$100… not too bad, considering the fact that ToTT sells the Sous Vide Supreme for about $600 here.
My first conscious taste of sous vide was from Ember at 1929. It was a salmon dish and I was struck by how perfectly cooked the fish was and ever since then I have been reading up fervently on this mad technique. I had to build my own immersion cooker.
I was so caught up in it that I splurged on a S$109 vacuum sealer from GMarket. Talk about conserving my budget. Doh!
Enough about that.
The immersion cooker is essentially a souped up crockpot with a little more intelligence in maintaining the temperature of the water. By keeping the water at a consistent temperature, you can cook food evenly from edge to edge. It consists of a PID module and a relay that switches on and off based on the arcane (to me) logic of the PID. Initially, I was looking to build a PID controller with the Arduino microcontroller, but I soon found out that ebay sold quite a few ready made kits for about $50 sgd.
To house the controller, I opted to have a custom acrylic box laser-cut and assembled by the crew at Plixo based on some artwork that I did in Adobe Illustrator, and after a few initial prototypes, we had a case!
On closer inspection, I noticed that some of the panels were assembled the wrong way around. After considering my options, I decided to break out the dremel and drilled some holes to shift the components and use the box on its side. :(
From here, it was just a matter of assembling the PID controller, power plugs, relay and sensor to the case. I also wired up a smaller orange LED for the front plate to up the cool factor whenever the relay was turned on.
I used the PT100 sensor with 2 wires, I was expecting 3. A problem easily solved with a jumper cable.
Here are some pics of the box completed! Very happy with the results except that the white socket sticks out like a sore thumb. Mental note to get a black socket the next time.
The first thing I did was to cook eggs. 64 deg celcius and 20 mins in the water bath.
I hooked the unit up to a crockpot that I had lying around, stuck the probe into the water and everything worked fine. The crockpot being a slow cooker had some problems getting up to the operating temperature. I boiled some water on the side and poured it in till it reached 61 deg c. It took a few minutes to stabilise and when it did, I put the eggs in.
After 20 minutes, the eggs were ready!
The eggs were seasoned with some pepper and soya sauce for taste. The yolks were perfectly smooth and custardy, whilst the albumen was the consistency of pudding. I might dip the eggs in some simmering water to get the whites to stiffen a little more when I next do this.
Guess what’s next? Stay tuned!