A rough translation of the French phrase mi-cuit is half-cooked, but that utterly fails to express the decadent texture of this salmon. A combination of heat and salt work in concert to ensure that, although served chilled, the salmon is anything but raw.
As a wave of concentrated dissolved salt permeates the flesh (concentrated enough to raise the salinity above 2%), various proteins in muscle fibers begin to unravel and entangle. This is curing, and it’s analogous to increasing the temperature of flesh with heat. Both salt or heat alone can take meats and seafood from raw to cured or raw to cooked (either will denature proteins and cause them to gel), but when used together you can do the same with less salt and a lower temperature. The result is a remarkable texture.
One subtlety of this recipe, which often goes unnoticed, is the need to chill the salmon for at least six hours before serving. The chloride ions from the salt are still diffusing towards equilibrium after the sous vide cooking step, and this chilling step allows the texture to fully develop.
Finally, cooking in vacuum-sealed packaging has the benefit of keeping the salmon impeccably fresh by preventing damaging oxidation. If you don’t have access to a vacuum chamber sealer, don’t fret: We’ve got a hack at ChefSteps.com that will help you achieve similar results, without all the equipment. Provided that you store the salmon mi-cuit at a temperature below 41 °F / 5 °C, the combination of low-temperature cooking, mild curing with salt, and oxygen-free packaging keeps our salmon mi-cuit fresh for 10 days or more. This makes it a delicious and versatile ingredient to keep around for a quick, healthy dish such as our Salmon 104 °F (get the recipe at ChefSteps.com).
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