I love the sous vide function on the Instant Pot and I now use it for every steak I buy. I like steak rare, bordering on blue, but I feel like it can be hard to get right at home. The sous vide function on the Instant Pot means that I can cook the steak to my preferred 51°C (approx. 124°F), briefly sear it in a pan or griddle and be happy that it’s rare, not raw, in the middle.
My favourite cut is bavette, skirt or flank - I think they’re all similar but no butcher I’ve come across in Norwich has a clue what I’m talking about when I ask for bavette. I discovered the cut after watching Nigella make a Tamarind-marinated Bavette Steak on her TV show Simply Nigella and was instantly sold. It’s a cheaper cut, best served rare, and the tamarind marinade is sublime. I tweak it when using the steak in tacos or tortillas by adding a bit of lime juice.
Recently I bought an Aberdeen Angus fillet steak - the most I’ve ever spent on a supermarket steak - which I then proceeded to ruin by not trusting that the Instant Pot was doing its job. I kept opening the lid to check the temperature of the water, which caused the temperature to fluctuate and I ended up with an overcooked steak. Don’t be me - trust the Instant Pot and don’t ruin your steak.
- The temperature for rare steak can vary depending on where you look. The Instant Pot manual defines rare as 50°C and medium rare as 54°C, which is roughly in line with the temperatures given by J. Kenji López-Alt’s Food Lab on Serious Eats. Look no further than The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous Vide Steak if you’re unsure about the sous vide method. It’s an exhaustive guide that will answer questions you didn’t even know you had. I find that 51°C works for me with a 1 minute sear on each side (using a griddle pan on my biggest burner cranked up as high as it will go).
- The amount of time you sous vide a steak for depends on its thickness. Supermarket steaks, and bavette in particular, are hardly ever thicker than an inch so I set the timer for 1 hour.
- The Instant Pot can take a while to heat the water to the correct temperature. I always forget so we usually end up eating half an hour later than I'd planned.
- I use my Instant Pot’s glass lid but the regular lid is fine.
- The Instant Pot manual advises testing the temperature of the steaks once the sous vide function has finished. I did this the first few times using a meat thermometer (affiliate link) but now I don’t bother.
- The steaks look grey and strange once they’ve been through the sous vide process. Don’t worry; sear them to get a nice char on the outside and when you slice into them you’ll see that they’re still pink in the middle.
- I cook the steaks as soon as they come out of the Instant Pot. The manual says that the bag can be plunged into ice water and refrigerated if you’re not ready to cook them yet but this seems weird to me so I don’t do it. It’s not recommended on Serious Eats either.
Tamarind comes in many forms: bricks, pastes, sauces, concentrates. I use Top-Op Tamarind Concentrate, which I get from the Asian Bazaar in Norwich. It’s completely smooth and really tangy; it’s great in a Pad Thai sauce too.
The steaks in the photo were used to fill tacos, along with guacamole, salsa, cheese, spring onion and extra lime juice.
- 1½ tbsp tamarind paste (or 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- juice from ½ a small lime
- 2 x 250g bavette steaks (or 1 500g steak)
You will need
- An Instant Pot with sous vide function (I use the Duo Evo Plus)
- A watertight bag to sous vide the steaks in (I use an Ikea Istad sealable bag)
- Marinade: Add 1½ tablespoons of tamarind paste (or 1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate), 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the juice from ½ a small lime into a watertight bag that will be used to sous vide the steaks. Mix well.
- Put 2 steaks (approximately 500g total weight) into the bag and gently squeeze to thoroughly coat the steaks in the marinade. Remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing (I sometimes use the water displacement method). Marinate in the fridge for 6-24 hours.
- Sous vide: Fill the Instant Pot inner pot with cold water to the halfway point. Put the inner pot back into the Instant Pot and select ‘Sous vide’, ‘Custom’, ‘51°C’ (or your desired temperature), ‘1 hour’, ‘Start’ and put the lid on. The Instant Pot will heat the water to the correct temperature, beep and display ‘Hot’ once it’s ready (this can take a while - sometimes up to 30 minutes).
- Double check that the bag containing the steaks is completely sealed before dropping the steaks into the Instant Pot. Make sure that the steaks are completely submerged in the water with the bag's seal ideally remaining above the water. I use the Instant Pot trivet to weigh the steaks down. Put the lid back on the Instant Pot.
- The Instant Pot will beep when the sous vide time is up. Remove the bag from the Instant Pot and set to one side. The steaks will look grey on the outside but should be pink on the inside.
- Get a large piece of foil ready to rest the steaks on once they’ve been seared.
- Sear: Place a heavy frying pan or griddle over the highest heat you have then remove a steak from its bag, letting the marinade drip off (I cook the steaks one at a time). Consider opening a window. Place the steak into the pan and set a timer for 1 minute then, when it sounds, turn the steak over and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the pan and place onto the foil, loosely sealing it around the steak.
- Cook the second steak as described in step 7. Once it’s done, place it into the foil package that contains the first steak, reseal the foil and allow both steaks to rest for at least 5 minutes before moving them to a chopping board. Slice the steaks against the grain and serve with sides of your choice.