What Is This?

The temperature readout is hint, but here's another: This science-y box will cook meat fully (and deliciously), but it probably won't burn you.

Professional chefs and/or obsessive viewers of cooking shows will have picked this one out right away, but that box up there? That's a thermal immersion circulator, which regulates water temperature for a cooking technique called Sous-vide , which literally translates to "under vacuum."

What's special about sous-vide cooking is that it's barely cooking—delicate ingredients, like fish or a tender cut of steak, are vacuum-sealed into bag, then left to sit in a temperature-regulated water bath for hours. What makes the technique so strange is that is calls for amazingly low temperatures, in the range of 60C—or about 10 degrees cooler than Mali on a bad day.

If it sounds dangerous, that because it is. Well, it can be: Unless you're a trained expert cooking in sterile, controlled conditions, you run the risk of contaminating your food with Botulism, ruining your diners' meals with symptoms like "diarrhoea" and "death." But oh god, when it works, it works. [PolyScience, BarfBlog]

Taste Test is our week-long tribute to the leaps that occur when technology meets cuisine, spanning everything from the historic breakthroughs that made food tastier and safer to the Earl Grey-friendly replicators we impatiently await in the future.

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