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Sous Vide: Beef Top Sirloin Steak

Beef top sirloin is higher in collagen than expensive premium cuts, but sous vide tenderization can cause it to achieve the same tenderness.

Ingredients

Top sirloin center cut steak(s), between 5 oz/150 g and 24 oz/675 g.
Powdered egg white as needed, or one fresh egg white, beaten well.
Kosher salt, no more than 2 teaspoons/450 g/lb.
Ground black pepper, as desired, OR
Umami Rub #12 and 35
(or your own preferred seasoning blend.)
Vegetable oil, as needed.
Butter, as needed.

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Lipavi heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Lipavi L15 rack or equivalent.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Paper towels.
Thick bottomed skilled, approximately 12″/30 cm.
Tongs/metal spatula.

 

 

 

Procedure:

Vacuum seal the individual steak(s) in heat rated plastic.
To achieve a rare/medium rare result, sous vide process at
130 F/54 C for a minimum of 8 hours.

To achieve a greater degree of apparent doneness, use our instructional guide that explains doneness preferences. 

Time determines the texture/tenderness of sous vide processed proteins, but time cannot be used to accurately MEASURE tenderness. To discover how to determine the actual tenderness of your sous vide project in real time, familiarize yourself and then practice the pinch and poke method.

After the processing interval has elapsed, move on to the next step or shock the package in iced water until it achieves 70 F/21 C. Refrigerated, the steak can be held at 40 F/4 C for at least two weeks before either proceeding to the next step or utilizing in another application. Never put a hot sous vide package in the fridge–home refrigeration equipment is not designed to chill hot foods in a timely manner. The heat emitted from your package can also damage other foods in the vicinity.

Service

If the steak was chilled, dip the package in hot water (or a functioning sous vide bath) to dissolve the gel–usually five minutes or less. Remove the steak from the package and pat dry with a paper towel. The juices in the bag can be processed as per our method HERE but in the case of individual steaks, the release is usually negligible in volume.

Seasoning

Put the steak on a plate or a sheet of parchment. Sprinkle lightly with powdered egg white and drizzle the surface lightly with water (a spray bottle works well for this), OR or use a pastry brush to moisten with the fresh egg white.

Sprinkle the steak with kosher salt in the amount of 2 teaspoons/lb/450 g and a pinch of ground black pepper or apply your favorite proprietary rub–for the purposes of this recipe, we used our own version, Umami Rub #12 and 35. Wait five minutes for the coating to attach itself. I also sprinkle parsley over the coated roast to insulate the moist seasonings from the surface of whatever it comes in contact with.

Most modern kitchen ovens have a warming function set to somewhere around 170 F/77 C. Use it to take the chill off of your dinner plates–this is standard practice in most restaurants, especially steak houses.

Searing

Heat the skillet to approximately 350 F/176 C. You should be able to detect heat radiating from the pan without actually touching it. Reduce the heat to medium, add a Tablespoon of oil and then the steak. Listen to the SOUND that the steak makes when you put it in the pan. You should hear sizzling–hissing is too cold, popping is too hot. If the steak is warm out of the bag, the searing process will take no more than a minute on each side, if that.

If the steak is at 40 F/4 C, I usually tell people to pretend that it was never sous vide processed in the first place. The internal temperature should achieve at least 125 F/52 C. A probe thermometer can be used to verify this, but with a minimum amount of practice, most people can use their best judgment and achieve excellent results.

Use the tongs or spatula to lift the steak after a few seconds to monitor the progress of the colorization. Turn the steak over and repeat the process. This crust is durable but anxious over-handling of the steak can dislodge it. Add a pat of butter to coat and then remove the steak from the pan. Stage into the warming oven for up to thirty minutes–this will help complete the retherming process (if necessary) but will not overcook the steak. Take that time to assemble the rest of the components of your presentation.

Presentation

Over my many years working with food enthusiasts, I have learned that amateur and professional cooks alike can be very proficient in food preparation but lack confidence when it comes to presentation and plate appearance. The most common anxiety driven mistake is the attempt to fit too much food on the plate. I am frequently guilty of that myself.

A tidy, uncluttered and even “half-empty” plate goes a surprisingly long way towards pleasing the eye. Altitude creates attitude–plated food benefits from being constructed as a three dimensional sculpture as opposed to a rug-like tapestry.

Use the rainbow–the appetized brain responds strongly to brown, red and green, and usually prefers a plain white background. Plates with complex designs look best on a rack in the hutch or hung on the wall.

Place the primary item (usually the protein) on the plate in the “7 o’clock” position so the diner sees the steak first and not the potato or vegetables.

The uniform appearance of doneness is a feature of sous vide processing that is very difficult to achieve by traditional means.

Notes:

Purchasing a whole beef top sirloin primal cut offers the benefit of considerable savings in cost. To learn how to easily disassemble a whole top sirloin, please read: Top Sirloin: you don’t have to be a butcher. 

If you are interested in processing top sirloin as a roast, you might visit Top Sirloin Culotte/Picahna and/or Top Sirloin Roast and Beyond.

For detailed explanations and recipes for the other components in the presentation pictures, visit HERE.

Norm King

About

Unlike New Yorks, rib eyes and filets, top sirloin can be sous vide processed, shocked cold and then rethermed by traditional means without sacrificing the favored "red" or "pink" coloration.

People who prefer their steaks cooked to a greater degree of apparent doneness will also notice that even when served well done, the steak still maintains more discernible moisture than other more expensive steaks.

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