Water circulators are becoming the new go-to gadget for the home chef, and the popularity of sous vide devices from Anova, Joule and Sansaire only shows that this trend will continue to grow. While the benefits of sous vide are geared more towards carnivores than herbivores, there are plenty of recipes out there to delight regardless of which way your palate sways.
Sansaire’s entry into this space brings home cooks a beautifully designed appliance that will help you make juicy, moist steaks. And even though sous vide gained popularity with steak aficionados, allowing you to prepare moist cuts of meat like you’d get at fine restaurants at a fraction of the cost, the Sansaire Sous Vide Machine is also good for other ingredients: poultry, beans, eggs, fish, pork, vegetables and even desserts.
Sansaire’s design is one of the best in the home sous vide category, consisting of a 15-inch cylindrical wand that’s slightly tapered at the top end with a grey accent ring up top. Roughly the size of a champagne bottle, the Sansaire Sous Vide Machine looks a little like an oversized pepper grinder with a 3.3-inch diameter base. The black color and simple design will make the Sansaire feel right at home, regardless of your kitchen decor or design, when displayed on your counter alongside other appliances. And despite its plastic build, the Sansaire feels substantial and solid, weighing in at four pounds.
But at its size, the Sansaire is the largest sous vide system for home chefs. It’s slightly larger than Anova’s unit, which comes with Wi-Fi (Anova also has an older version with Bluetooth) for remote cooking control and Chefsteps’ Joule, which offers a nice app interface that pairs with your phone. For its large size, the Sansaire doesn’t provide any wireless connectivity, and its accompanying app is used mainly to look up cooking times and temperatures for simple recipes — there are more detailed and complete sous vide recipes available elsewhere outside of Sansaire’s compilation. The simplicity in Sansaire’s approach to its interface and app is refreshing and elegant, highlighting the ingredients and the effortless approach to cooking.
For those who want a smart kitchen appliance, Sansaire will launch Delta later this year, its Wi-Fi connected sous vide cooker.
But the large and tapered stout frame affords Sansaire room to make design decisions that simplifies how the user interacts with the immersion cooker. Near the top, just below the grey ring, is a small LED window that displays the temperature. A nice touch is that the display is always on, allowing you to quickly glance at the device from across the room to check to see if the device is circulating water at a steady temperature. That grey ring is actually a dial, which you can turn to make granular temperature adjustments. In terms of interacting with the device, that’s all you need to do, and there’s no messy fuss with trying to pair the Sansaire with your phone, getting the wireless to work or having to interact with an app if you’re not tech savvy.
Sansaire’s 1000W heating element is comparable to the one on the Joule and more powerful than the 900W element on the Wi-Fi version of Anova’s Precision Cooker. This means that the Sansaire heats up faster than the Anova version we previously reviewed, and you’ll be able to start cooking a little bit faster. When the cooking is in progress, all three units should perform similarly to maintain a constant cooking temperature, so you’re basically just shaving a little bit of time pre-heating the water to the desired temperature with Sansaire’s unit compared to the Anova.
At its core, sous vide is a French term meaning “under vacuum.” Basically, sous vide cooking requires a few components — a large tub or pot filled with water, the immersion cooker and your ingredients. You’ll want to vacuum seal your food before you place it in the water bath. Home cooks who don’t have access to a vacuum sealing machine can place their ingredients into a ziplock bag, slowly submerge the contents under water to push air out, and seal the bag before dropping it all the way into the water.
Once your ingredients are vacuum sealed, you’ll want to remove the bag from the water. Next, you’ll want to follow your recipes and start preheating the water. The large size of Sansaire’s sous vide machine hides another benefit: it can move more water. While the minimum water level is roughly similar between the Sansaire and Anova units, the maximum water level is higher on the Sansaire. This is useful for longer cooking times, as water will evaporate. If water the water level falls below the minimum level, the Sansaire automatically shuts off to prevent overheating, but with more water available, it will take longer before the unit reaches the minimum water level because of evaporation during the cooking process.
I’ve never had any issues with water completely evaporating during the cooking process when I used the Sansaire. By ensuring that the water level is close to the maximum line, I never had to worry. The only issue I had is that the base is very big. If you’re working with the Sansaire, you’ll need to find a large stock pot or tub to accommodate the base. The unit will clip onto the side of the pot, but even if your pot is not high enough, you can set the device so it’s sitting on its metal skirt and it will be fine.
With a nice cut of meat, you’ll find that you won’t need much in terms of seasoning. There are recipes you can follow, but generally you’ll want a little bit of olive oil, some salt and a bit of pepper to season for meats. For fish, I like to add in a bit of lemon juice and lemon slices for added flavor. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also chop in some fresh herbs. And although herbivores can cook their vegetables using a sous vide method to lock in the flavors and nutrition — versus boiling — I generally found it simpler and faster to steam my vegetables.
For meats, Sansaire also sells its own Steak Aging Sauce, which is a mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce and other ingredients that adds a bit of umami to your meat, mimicking the flavor profiles of more expensive dry aged cuts.
Once the water is preheated, you’ll want to lower your vacuum sealed bag and its ingredients into the water bath. Just be sure that everything is covered by water to ensure even cooking.
Carnivores cooking with sous vide will notice that finished meats come out with an unattractive grey tone, especially steaks. Don’t be alarmed! After you remove your steaks from the bag, be sure to pat it dry with some napkins, and then you can sear the steaks on a grill or with a torch — Sansaire also sells a torch and searing rack as part of its searing kit — the former will add attractive grill marks, giving it a restaurant quality presentation. You can add your own signature sauces and sides for the perfect meal. Like the Anova, the Sansaire delivered perfect medium rare steaks that were juicy and moist along with flavorful fish, seafood and poultry dishes. Shrimp and scallops, for example, were cooked perfectly so that they’re not rubbery or chewy.
By being able to cook your foods under water for long periods at low temperatures, sous vide offers a precision element to food preparation. This way, foods are cooked through, and home chefs won’t have to overcook their foods to compensate for the fear of undercooking meats. The result of sous vide is delicious, moist and juicy meats, nutritious vegetables that taste naturally sweet and effortless meals when you use good ingredients. If you’re preparing a steak with sous vide, as an example, you won’t have to mess around with different sauces to cover up the taste of overcooked meat when prepared the traditional way on a skillet or in the oven.
With its Sous Vide Machine, Sansaire offers a no fuss solution to home chefs encased in an attractive design. Lack of wireless connectivity and smartphone integration, though, feels like a deal-breaker given its $199 price, very similar to more feature-packed rivals, but in use, there is a charming elegance behind the simple approach to cooking. Lacking the frills of its rivals, Sansaire places the attention on the the ingredients and the painless simplicity in helping home cooks prepare decadently delicious meals without much effort.
If you want a kitchen appliance to fit into your smart home, look elsewhere. The Sansaire is for the home chef that would rather not have to worry about technology. At its heart, Sansaire’s Apple-like approach resulted in a technological tool that doesn’t detract from the art of cooking, and that is part of the zen of being in the kitchen.