Sous vide cooking sits firmly at the foodie/techie intersection. On the one hand, you're using laboratory-grade instrumentation to heat water to a precise, consistent temperature. On the other, you're just hungry for perfectly cooked steak.
The Anova One proudly plants itself at those crossroads, and promises to bring the technique to your kitchen counter for just $200 (a 220V version is available for international buyers at the same price, which comes out to roughly AU$225, or a little over £120 in the UK).
We tested one out in our own kitchen, and came away both impressed by the science and blown away by the food. As a sous vide starting point, Anova makes a ton of sense -- though you may also want to consider holding out for one of the yet-to-be-released next-gen smart cookers, like the, the all-in-one , or . If you're on a budget, the $100 (North America only) might also make sense, though you'll need to pair it with an old slow cooker or rice maker.
Sous vide so simple
The Anova One is an immersion circulator, which means you'll need your own stock pot. You'll clamp the device to the side of the pot with the stainless steel bottom half down in the water. A built-in thermometer will monitor the water's temperature -- tell Anova how hot you want to cook at, and the built-in heating coil and circulation fan will get right to work.
You'll control the device using its LCD touchscreen, which features large, plainly labeled buttons for setting the temperature and the timer. You'll be able to set the temperature to a degree, and set the timer in 5-minute intervals. Both seem like slight limitations -- for instance, the, one of Anova's chief rivals, will let you dial in to a tenth of a degree.
All in all, I give Nomiku a very slight design edge over Anova. I preferred setting the temperature with Nomiku's physical dial as opposed to Anova's touch buttons. Nomiku's spring-loaded clamp was also easier to use than the screw-in clamp you'll need to fidget with on Anova -- although in fairness, Anova's approach does offer a tighter hold with most pots. I also appreciated that Anova has a much wider range between minimum and maximum water levels than Nomiku does, which makes for greater flexibility during long cooks.
Like Nomiku, Anova will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to heat the water, depending on how high you set it. Once you've hit the target temp, all that's left is for you to do is drop the food in. Sous vide means "under vacuum" in French, and the pros will tell you to vacuum seal your ingredients to lock the flavor in. However, you can also seal your ingredients in a plastic storage bag -- just make sure it's BPA-free polyethylene and not cheap polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as the latter can leach harmful chemicals into your food.
Here's another plastic baggie tip -- with your ingredients inside and the bag open, slowly dip the majority of the bag into the water, leaving just the seal exposed. The water pressure will force most of the air out, and you can seal the bag shut with next to nothing but flavor locked inside.
Once your ingredients are in the bath, you'll simply need to wait. Some recipes will cook in as little as fifteen minutes, while others will call for a few hours (or even a few days). When you're done cooking, you can remove the stainless steel skirt from the bottom of the Anova and pop it in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
If that sounds easy enough, that's because it is. I'm not an especially talented cook, and I'm definitely prone to a few more-than-occasional kitchen screw-ups. With Anova, messing up a recipe felt like a challenge. I wouldn't quite call it foolproof, but it's awfully close.
Ease of use aside, the real question is how good the food tastes. Sous vide products like the Anova One tend to make pretty bold performance claims, with promises of mouth-watering results from nearly any recipe. We wanted to put those claims to the test.
We started with eggs, which cook right in the shell and don't need a plastic bag. Most recipes I found called for the eggs to be cooked around 145 degrees F (about 63 degrees C) for 45 minutes. I didn't feel like waiting that long, so I found a recipe that upped the temperature to 167 degrees F (75 degrees C) and promised to cook my eggs in 15 minutes.