Imagine all the time and effort you put into cooking a perfect sous vide steak. You grab your sous vide searing torch to add just the right finishing touch. But disaster strikes and that finishing touch becomes the touch of death. You burn that steak, you drench it with the smell and taste of gas, or you burn yourself. Searing is a great way to take your sous vide cooking to the next level. But these common problems with searing can ruin your gourmet creations.
The Top 3 Problems When Using a Sous Vide Searing Torch
- Bad chemical taste and odor
- Burning the food
- Burning yourself (or your kitchen)
The first step in solving these problems is choosing the right torch for you. The best torches have high performance and control features that allow you to control the gas and flame. They also have safety features that protect you and your kitchen. Here are our top recommendations for torches that solve these problems.
The Bernzomatic TS800 is the best all-around option to solve common sous vide searing torch problems. It gives you power and control to sear to perfection. It is a serious professional grade torch that you could use to solder or cut metal. But it is also more expensive and complex. There are a variety of after-market attachments designed specifically cooking with the Bernzomatic TS800.
- Temperature of up to 3600°F. – gas burns clean and complete
- Adjustable Flame Control – choose the flame size and intensity
- Automatic Ignition – one touch trigger for flame on or off
- Safe – Long nozzle keeps the flame [and heat] far from your hand
- Cast Iron Construction – extremely durable
The Searzall is the prime example of the available attachments made for the Bernzomatic TS800. The Searzall is more expensive than the torch itself, but the results are amazing. And the technology behind it is super cool. The Searzall converts the focused heat of the narrow flame to a wide area of radiant heat. This allows for faster more even searing of larger items like steaks, chickens, roasts, vegetables. It is less effective for smaller dishes like crème brulé.
Small. Handy. High Performance. The Sondiko Butane Torch combines the practicality needed for home cooking with the quality needed for the professional chef. It is not as advanced as the Bernzomatic TS800, but it offers a ton of options. It would serve any home cook looking for a sous vide searing torch very well.
- Temperature range up to 2500°F – gas burns clean and complete
- Adjustable flame control – choose the flame size and intensity
- One Touch Ignition Button
- Continuous Flame Lock – sear for several minutes without holding a trigger the whole time.
- Finger Heat Guard – protect yourself from burns
- Upside Down Searing – sear from any angle
Safety First. The Eurkitchen Butane torch has the strongest safety features for a sous vide searing torch. The performance of the little torch is still excellent, but not quite as high as the others. For example, the temperature range is lower than the others. It definitely gets hot enough for all your searing needs. You will just need a bit more time and technique.
- Temperature range up to 2370°F – gas burns clean and complete if less is used.
- Gas Flow Regulator – control valve for gas
- Large Heat Guard – provides both safety and comfort
- Smaller Butane tank insert – less gas = less risk
- Gas Flow Safety Lock – prevents gas leaks when in storage
How to Avoid Bad Chemical Taste and Odor
The most common complaint when using a sous vide searing torch is the bad taste and odor. Imagine that gorgeous steak with a perfect dark crust and luscious pink center. It looks amazing, but when you bring it close to your face…yuk! It smells and tastes like a gas station. This bad taste and odor is a result of 2 related causes: releasing too much gas or hot spot overcooking. When too much gas is used, not all the gas is burned in the flame. Some of it soaks right into your food. It becomes the most awful seasoning: turning your masterpiece into a piece of … Hot spot overcooking is the result of poor technique. It can create bad taste and odor by overcooking or burning small areas of the food. Keep the flame moving. Keep the movement even and equally distributed across the dish.
The Fix. First, choose a torch that allows you full control of how much gas is release, like the ones above. Second, use that control to produce the best flame. Aim for a blue flame. Flames that are more yellow or orange are not fully combusted. Third, use proper technique to avoid hot spot overcooking. We’ll discuss this more below.
How to Avoid Burning
Proper technique calls for 3 things:
- Keep the flame moving – holding the flame in one spot is the easiest way to burn the food
- Keep a consistent speed of movement – allow for even distribution of heat
- Keep a consistent distance between flame and food – allow for even distribution of heat
The best way to learn is to practice – just like with everything else. And practice before that big dinner where you want to impress everyone. My first attempt to use a sous vide searing torch was a disaster. I had an important dinner. I wanted to show off with some gourmet filet mignon finished to perfection with an impeccable crust. But I didn’t know what I was doing back then. The steaks were a hot mess. Literally. They were burned, chemically, and I couldn’t even serve them. I had to go out last minute and get some rotisserie chicken. Less than impressive, but lesson learned. Practice on something cheap first.
How to Stay Safe
Sous vide searing torch safety is mostly common sense. The tricky part is that searing is actually “playing with fire.” It’s super fun and exciting. Remembering to use common sense is the hard part. Here are some easy tips to prepare yourself and your workspace.
- Choose a torch built for safety – keep the flame away from your hands with nozzle length and heat guards
- Clear your workspace – no towels, no cooking spray, no kids running around
- Use a heat resistant searing dish – most normal cookware will work. Just don’t try to sear food still on the drain pad or paper towels.
- Clear a safe zone around the searing dish
- Use the minimum effective dose of gas
- Ensure all valves are closed after searing to prevent leaks
Using a sous vide searing torch is an easy way to add the gourmet touches that transform your great meals into awesome meals. The most important step is choosing the best torch for you. Click here to learn more.