Tuesday, December 14, 2010

72 hours beef short ribs

This is one sous-vide recipe that you will have read or heard about, as the 72 hours cooking time really stands out. You don't normally hear of meat being cooked for so long, as traditional cooking techniques are not suited to stretch over 3 days while retaining flavours and textures. So I decided to finally start the journey of this never-ending and inevitably well planned cooking process. As for any recipe, there are different versions at different temperatures, and I decided to cook mine at 57C for the first 48 hours, raising the temperature to 75.5C for the last 24 hours.

I seasoned the meat with a sprinkle of pepper and generous salt, then vacuum packed it together with a herb sachet containing rosemary, sage, thyme and a clove of garlic sliced into two. I then put the bags into the water bath for a continuous 72 hours. I recommend that no matter what, but especially if you are in Singapore, when you cook sous-vide over such long periods using an immersion circulator, you observe the following:
  • Cover the container either with its own lid or some cling film
  • Make sure that the packs are well into the water.  They will eventually develop some air and tend to emerge, and you might have to put some weight over them to keep them into place
  • Place a fan behind the circulator to ensure that it won't overheat. The last thing you want is your circulator to stop while unattended in the middle of the process, as you will have to throw away all the meat and start again.
  • Ensure that the bags are double sealed, since the bones can be sharp and may potentially damage the envelope. If necessary, you might consider double vacuuming within a second envelope.
After 3 days of wait, I was eager to extract the bags from the water bath and unveil the beauty of these slabs of meat. Pictured above, what the ribs looked like after I extracted them from their own envelope and drained the juices (set aside to make the sauce).

Now, time to make the outside crispy, seal the flavours and create a tasty Maillard reaction all around this gourmet cut of meat. I blow-torched the short ribs from every side, making sure that the outer layer of fat crisped up, sweating out some of its oil.

While slicing, the meat fell off the bone and really didn't take much effort to cut through! The slices revealed the fairly thick inner marbling which was already well visible before the cooking (see first photo on top). The meat, despite being perfectly pink as a "medium" would look like if you cooked a steak, actually tasted like a "medium-rare" throughout.

This is without a doubt a result that you would never achieve without sous-vide: the meat was tender, incredibly juicy, and felt almost like raw meat. Marbled with melting fat, crispy outside, but most importantly packed with flavour throughout! In actual fact, it didn't need any sauce since the natural beef flavour was enhanced by the balanced aromas released by the herbs.
This is the kind of result which makes you happy to be cooking sous-vide, and I will be making it more regularly.


maameemoomoo said...


I'm totally WOW-ed!

I want your 'toy' too!! For this, i'll give up on being a pescetarian for a day! :P

amiscell said...

Hey, you have some really amazing recipes and pictures on your blog too! I love the look of your sun-dried tomato bread.

Meng Weng Wong said...

I've set up a meetup group at

I'd like to meet you and other sous vide pioneers over a home-cooked meal.

Want to pick a date? Anytime in Jan should be ok.

Siew Mun said...

May I know where can I buy food vacuum bag in Singapore for Sous Vide

amiscell said...

Siew Mun - go to TOTT: http://www.tottstore.com/

Anonymous said...

what's the temperature of the sous vide??

amiscell said...

As per the first paragraph: "As for any recipe, there are different versions at different temperatures, and I decided to cook mine at 57C for the first 48 hours, raising the temperature to 75.5C for the last 24 hours".

S said...


I am looking for a place to buy beef short ribs in Singapore. Have checked the usual suspects (e.g. Hubers) with no success. Would appreciate any tips you might have.


amiscell said...

Cold storage sell them. I have been buying them regularly at the Parkway Parade branch, but I suppose most main branches will stock them.

Anonymous said...

wouldn't cooking it at 75 degrees for the last 24 hours change it to well done? and is there any reason behind doing so? thanks!

amiscell said...

Hi Anonymous - Honestly it's a long time ago and I don't recall. I think I came up with this after some research - but I would think what you are saying makes sense, the last 24 hours would change it to a different level of doneness. I am not sure of the benefit of maintaining a lower temperature for the first 2 days as opposed to starting with the final temperature from the start as I haven't tested both methods, sorry!

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