Posted by: ohmypuddin | January 24, 2011

Cooking Sous-Vide Lemongrass Chicken


It is done! The sous vide machine, finished!

I posted a pic on Facebook, and a few people were interested in how this was constructed. Well, I didn’t make this, John did. And I have a vague understanding of how he did it. Like, I know there’s a heating element (giant metal part in the water) and an aquarium pump to circulate the water and a readout so you can control the temperature and a relay for…relaying things. But I really have no idea how John put it together or where he got the parts or what the parts are or their purpose. That’s not my job. My job is to tell you about it. I’ll make him write it all down and everything, so we all know how it was done.

I do know that John had to make three of these things, because the first one melted somehow and that’s not good. I’m not sure what happened to the second one, but the one you see here is the third one. The good thing about building this three times is that John got to use my on/off switch! Which really is the best part.

So, we tested it out last night, using this lemongrass chicken recipe.

Lemongrass-Cilantro Chicken with Honey Dipping Sauce

From Food & Wine



  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 packed cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 large shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, with skin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup small mint leaves
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and honey and cook over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and add the crushed red pepper. Let cool to room temperature. Add the vinegar and fish sauce and season with salt and black pepper.
  2. Using the side of a chef’s knife or a rolling pin, bruise the pieces of lemongrass. Transfer to a large, shallow dish. Add the cilantro, shallots and vegetable oil and mix well. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before grilling.
  3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Scrape the marinade off of the chicken breasts. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill, skin side down, over moderately high heat until the skin is lightly charred and crisp, about 3 minutes. Move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill or reduce the heat to moderate and grill for 2 minutes longer. Turn the chicken and cook until white throughout, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Slice the chicken crosswise 1/3 inch thick and transfer to plates. Sprinkle the chicken with the mint leaves and serve with lime wedges. Pass the dipping sauce at the table.

Except instead of grilling the chicken, we cooked it at 141 in the sous vide for an hour. I’d read this Serious Eats article about cooking chicken sous-vide, and followed the instructions accordingly. So John sealed the chicken breasts in a bag with some lemongrass and shallots and oil and salt and pepper. It came out like this.

Whoa. Not pretty. Looks like boiled chicken. Except it wasn’t boiled, it was…gently simmered, or something. It doesn’t look appetizing, is my point. When you sous vide meats, you should always sear them afterwards, because they will also come out looking boiled.

Here’s that chicken again over greens.

Better, no? More pleasing when it’s seared. Plus, it gives it a nice texture. The chicken was really flavorful and moist, since it had been cooking in its own juices for an hour.


  1. Sweet! I just went to The Monterey in Southtown this weekend for the first time and tried their sous vide fried egg. Flash fried and crispy on the outside (like the texture of tempura, but without the actual tempura), hard boiled egg whites, and a nice creamy yoke. Give it a shot!

  2. I LOVE the sous vide! Gary wants to make one, too. I used your pics to taunt him a little..haha 🙂

  3. […] It’s fun! Just look at those photos! […]

  4. Okay, so I suck at sewing, but I so want to make something similar…but not electronic. Can that even be considered similar? I think it essentially does the same thing though, but with minimal energy, tell me what you think:

    • That is a pretty cool concept. It’s not really like sous-vide, because you cook it first and then the wonderbox insulates it (heh. wonderbox). I like the idea of this though. It’d be great for picnics or long trips or taking food to a party. Or chili. Or anything, really.

  5. […] Sous Vide Recipes for Steak and Chicken […]

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