Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tools of the Trade: Nomiku immersion circulator


So a while back I kickstarted this project called Nomiku (about a year and half ago). It's promise was to bring an affordable immersion circulator to the home kitchen and spread the promise of sous vide cooking technique to all. I was pretty intrigued an immersion circulator runs around $1000, it's chemistry lab equipment for pete sake. The idea is simple, a device that can circulate water and add heat and hold it at a very precise temperature. I've had other sous vide devices such as the sous vide supreme and pid controller tied to a steam table but both of those solutions heat the water passively. There's the possibility that parts of the water bath are not evenly heated to the same temperature. Certainly it was close enough, but neither solution was really portable. Do I really need a third sous vide device? Sure more the merrier!

(Nomiku unboxed) So in comes the nomiku, I waited with bated breath and waited and waited. This was my first kickstarter project, I didn't know what to expect. I will say the project founders were very communicative, reading their posts about the process from start to finish was a lot of fun. I almost felt like I was part of it with each success and each annoying setback.  They are a neat group of people with a mission and i'm glad they shared the process and I finally have my nomiku.

The nomiku comes with warranty, a sous vide primer/cookbook and a quick start guide (which I really appreciated). The box, unit and instructions are all very high quality, they didn't cut any corners.

They do warn you to read the manual first, the key is that you have to have the water level set between the min and max (the two little holes you see on the metal shaft). The unit starts immediately when plugged in, so it's possible you burn out the motor or screw up the heating element if you don't first have it sunk in water. The power supply box is there so they can send you power plugs depending on what your country's plug configuration looks like.

You set the temperature by rotating the green knob. It's pretty free spinning and increments by .1 degrees at a time so there's a lot of spinning involved to get it to a high temperature. I immediately saw why they made it very loose spinning rather than a ratcheting lock step spin as I twirled the knob to get from 33 degrees to 142. The screen is touch enabled and touching it will change the readout from Fahrenheit to Celsius and back. The readout turns yellow if you're picking a temperature in the "danger zone" where bacteria thrive and can rapidly multiply.

I did a readout with my Thermapen and it was well within one degree of difference. The nice thing about the circulator is that you can clip the device onto anything. In this case I put it in a eight quart stock pot. It got the water from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 143 in about 14 mins, eyeballing the water at about 6 quarters.

And of course the first (and quickest) test was sous vide-ing some eggs so in they went for 45 mins at 143. The only comment here is that the eggs started to cluster around the intake of the circulator.

The results turned out perfect with that thick gel consistency of perfectly poached egg. My only concern is that I could probably be more efficient with the energy by using a cooler, the pot obviously got pretty warm and that's a large surface area to be losing heat. I'll have to look into that.

This was actually my second Nomiku unit. I was originally going to employee my new nomiku during Thanksgiving dinner but it was dead on arrival. But the folks at nomiku were very responsive returning my email within hours the day before thanksgiving and got me squared away quickly. It took a little extra time, but they were super nice and very apologetic about the delay. Anyhow, the device is on sale at their website. I highly recommend it!

I'm going on vacation next week I might get the gumption to put out a few posts of what we eat. Hopefully in the new year I can get back to the bentos. Thanks for visiting and Happy Holidays!

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