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Dishwasher Cooking: Make Your Dinner While Cleaning The Plates (npr.org)
84 points by nkzednan on Aug 27, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

Mythbusters also tried it (with the help of Alton Brown) in their "Surreal Gourmet Hour" episode (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqABijWMlxA). Incidentally, that episode also had a bit on cooking with a dishwasher but it was cut (http://mentalfloss.com/article/13132/mythbustersalton-brown-...).

Interesting, I watched that episode in the UK and both the cooking on the car and cooking with the dishwasher parts were in there.

They cut the episodes shorter in the US to fit more ads. I haven't seen the episode in question, but the amount of cut time might be enough to remove a small segment.

I cooked a few burgers on the engine block of my 1983 Toyota Tercel back in the day.

On my current car it's got so many plastic enclosures all over it that I can't find a hot area for my burger action. A real shame. This skill seems to be almost magical when I tell people about it :)

Good chefs will always tell you: Use the right knife for the right job. Can we not simply use our kitchen appliances and tools for what they were designed for? The author suggests (and I'm inclined to agree) that using a dishwasher to poach salmon is a fairly wasteful use of electricity and water. If you want poached salmon, get out a pot and some water. If you're really particular you could buy a cheap thermometer to poach at whatever temperature you choose, and I'd be willing to bet you'd get more consistent results than using a large machine designed to clean plates. I'm all for new techniques and ideas in the kitchen, but this is a fad that should not and will not stick around for long.

> Good chefs will always tell you: Use the right knife for the right job. Can we not simply use our kitchen appliances and tools for what they were designed for?

I guess you never used a torch to reverse sear meat? The right knife for the job is the one that gets the best results. I do agree that there are probably better ways to get the same results, but if you dishwasher gets you the exact temps you need, go for it. I do a lot of sous vide steaks in a large cooler.

Could this be considered a derivative of Sous-vide[0]? That is, the mason jar technique is cooking in an air-tight container and temperature is at least somewhat regulated by the dishwasher. Have I had access to a cheap sous-vide machine this whole time!?


Do you not have a drink cooler? It'll do a better job of this than a dishwasher.


The dishwasher cooking trick is old, by the way; here's a reference to an article in Salon about it, from the '90s:


Hook the drink cooler up with an arduino, temp sensor, power switch and an heating element and you'd be able to maintain that temperature as long as you'd like.

http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2013/07/16/back-in-stock-sous-v... http://lowereastkitchen.com/wp/?q=node/3

This'll be the next thing I try, definitely. Thanks for letting me know!

Sort of, but the temperature to a large extent depends on your water supply. Also, sous-vide often means cooking at low temperature for much longer than a dishwasher cycle. If you want to get into it on the cheap and are willing to experiment, a slow cooker is another option.

My dishwasher runs too quickly and my water is too hot to make this technique usable. I've had great success with a $20 crockpot and the Dorkfood DSV, a no-frills PID controller that you can get on Amazon right now for $99. Much cheaper and easier than the other Kickstarter projects or making your own with an Arduino or something.

And I didn't think about the energy angle until now, but I'd think the crockpot transfers heat much more efficiently than a dishwasher, where most of the joules are going down the drain in a short period of time.

"And I didn't think about the energy angle until now"

It doesn't matter except for greenwashing / guilt tripping purposes. Engineering analysis below or you can just trust me.

The embedded energy in food is very high, enough to cremate the food quite easily. Actually enough to cremate the food and vaporize the ashes. Takes an astounding amount of diesel to make a can of corn and deliver it to your table, for example.

WRT dishwasher salmon from the 70s (rediscovered periodically in the 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s, just like acid, but I digress) I googled around and found a "Kentucky State University" presentation claiming farmed salmon takes 11 MJ per portion to create and deliver to your kitchen before it gets cooked. To about one sig fig 1 MJ = 1 KWh so for a family of 4 you're looking at an embedded energy of "forty" KWh to provide the salmon. Its hard to envision a cooking technique requiring more than "forty" hours at a KW or 40 KW for an hour unless you get ridiculous like using a literal rocket engine or thousands (millions?) of green eco friendly watch batteries. Maybe if you burned organically grown truffle oil in a camp stove, or made charcoal out of beef instead of hardwood and grilled on it. Its not physically possible for my dishwasher to approach even 4 KWh... I did the wiring, I know you can't draw that much current over as short of a time as one cycle...

The article also fixated on running the washer with soap on a normal load so you're really only "wasting" a fraction of its capacity, and most people don't run a washer at full capacity anyway, therefore the "waste" is typically zero.

The amortized medical costs are much higher. So one time in a thousand the package un-noticably leaks all over and everyone in the family gets horribly food poisoned when using the contaminated dishes, leading to multiple days lost labor, and little billy needs an ER visit for IV rehydration at $2K blah blah and suddenly using a crock pot or buying a real sous vide cooker starts looking like the cheapest alternative by far.

Modern dishwashers have a heating element, they don't depend on an external source of heat for water. Some can use a more efficient external source to reduce heating costs, but dishwashers run a lot hotter than what comes out of the tap.

Not all of them -- my dishwasher is typically set to wash (on eco mode) at a significantly colder temperature than the taps (which are set quite hot at the boiler).

Also, proper equipment is falling in price rapidly. You can buy an Anova immersion circulator for $200 (used to be $300 until the Sansaire kickstarter showed up). I see no reason to believe that the market has bottomed out; the components are just not that expensive.

The bottom is about $30. That's about what my tropical fish tank aquarium heater cost and it'll hold any fishy-temp within a degree, permanently underwater, for years. If you demand a digital dial, or a timer, or perhaps higher wattage to heat up quicker, you might be looking at as much as $50, maybe as much as $100.

A hackerspace project (or startup?) to convert aquarium heaters into perfect hard boiled egg sous vide devices would be interesting and theoretically cheap. There's people who think nothing of $500 for a coffee maker, so they'd probably go $50 for a dedicated egg hard boiler or something like that, which would be well over 100% markup on wholesale prices for aquarium heaters.

If you don't want to do anything with a loooong slow cook time (like beyond 4 or 5 hours), you can just use ziplock bags, hot water and a medium beverage cooler. I "backyard sous-vide" steaks and pork chops like this all the time. Ziplocks don't leach any nasties at 130ºF and you don't sous-vide grilling meat long enough for the heat loss of the cooler to really matter. Fish is cooked at lower temperatures than beef/pork, so it should work even better.

Some added points: Ziplock bags should be good to around ~170F. I use a large cooler, a probe thermometer for the water temps, and a boiling kettle of water to bring the temp back up when it goes down. If you are concerned with bacteria in your meat (steaks have it mostly on the surface), you can follow the USDA:FSIS rules on time-temperature: steaks are safe after 121 minutes at 130F -- i go 3-4 hours to make sure the middle is that temp [1]. To reverse sear your meat I've used the following two options: torch and a charcoal starter chimney with a grate on top.

I've found that you really need a reverse sear, because while the meats are extremely juicy, they have a bad external texture without a crust and you miss out on all of the good taste the maillard reaction gives you.

[1] http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/RTE_Poultry_...

Be very careful when cooking with plastics, there are dangers in the sous vide technique if the wrong kind of bag is used.


Did anyone watch the Mythbusters episode where Alton Brown cooked a lasagne in the dishwasher?


Damn, I need to watch more Alton Brown. And more Mythbusters.

This is gross. Cooking salmon is all about the crispy skin. Without that, you should just eat canned salmon. Salmon is the easiest fish to cook. Put the oven on broil, burn the shit out of the fish on the skin side with a bit of oil in a pan, then put it in the oven. The top and bottom will be crusty, and it will be perfect.

If you want the canned salmon taste, put it is the dishwasher. Then again, you could just eat warmed canned salmon.

It would appear you don't really know what you're talking about. While crispy skin is great, the flesh of sous-vide fish, and esp. salmon, is extraordinary.

The way to do it properly is to cut off the flesh from the skin, cook the flesh sous-vide (either in the dishwasher, in a sous-vide circulator if you have one (I guess not) or in a pan of hot water while watching the temperature), burn "the shit out" of the skin, and serve both flesh and skin, skin on top of fish for better presentation.

Please give it a try.

Salmon is about a lot of things. It can be eaten raw, cold- or hot smoked, cured, grilled, lightly salted etc.

I prefer cured, raw, lightly salted or cold smoked.

I don't think you'll find that your particular preparation mrthod is used with salmon in very many three star restaurants.

This is gross. Salmon is wasted if not eaten raw.

Or you know, it's possible that different people have different tastes.

DO eat Raw Salmon!

I eat raw Salmon all the time. It's safe.

Either freeze it first (not ideal) or use Farmed Salmon that is treated for parasites. Soak it in vinegar before using if you are worried about bacteria on the outside.

I go for the farmed option and use Farmed Scottish Salmon (I'm in the UK) as it is proven to be safe for Sashimi. In fact, any EU-produced farmed Salmon is safe to eat raw.



When using supermarket Salmon I rummage around in the fridge looking for the freshest (far away date, firm body, not gooey, no 'leakage') and the most marbled with fat (the fattier the better in my experience). I use the large wedge-shaped steaks as the thin, flat tail-ends have too much surface area for the amount of meat. Farmed trout is also great eaten raw.

When I get it home I skin it and drop it into vinegar & salt for a few minutes (I wait until I see the skin start to whiten a little) before diluting it into a marinade (teriyaki sauce, soy-sauce, ginger, honey, …; or dill, chives, black pepper, …).

Leave for 15 mins to a day or so depending how 'cooked' you want it. If you are going to leave it over night add a little water or booze so the marinade doesn't overpower the delicate fish.

Pat dry with a kitchen roll. Slice into thin rectangular chunks with a large very sharp knife.

> I eat raw Salmon all the time. It's safe.


The European regulations linked there are out of date (2004). I linked to an article about the new ones.

“The study was included in a wider EU review of parasites in fishery products carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which confirmed the Scottish findings and led to the introduction of the EU freezing exemption for farmed fish in 2011”.

> exemption for farmed fish

A) Farmed fish only. The same fish that comes with a hefty dose of antibiotics and other tasty compounds [0], stuff that does break up but only if the fish is cooked.

B) Now, wild salmon has parasites as it grows up and spawns in fresh water. I assume this is not a contention point.

A + B + tell me again that you are OK with eating raw salmon and I'll tell you that you either like parasites or toxins :)

And, after all, all salmon sashimi you'd get in any Japanese place comes from the deep-frozen fish.

[0] http://www.albany.edu/ihe/salmonstudy/pressrelease.html - First hit in Google for "eating farmed salmon raw"

If you read my first comment I said exactly that.

If it's wild — freeze it.

If it's farmed — it's probably OK (from a parasitical point-of-view).

Even in wild salmon the main risks of parasitical infection are from Tapeworm [1] (easily treatable) and Aniskasis [1][2](common in all fish, not a human parasite, usually not harmful). Plus, in the case of Anisakis cooking doesn't destroy the toxins that we react to so if it is infected theres a chance of a stomach upset and/or an allergic reaction even if cooked.

With the current crisis of overfishing wild fish in the waters around the UK the environmental argument against farmed fish is tricky and complicated. I'd sooner eat farmed fish than endangered fish or bottom-trawled fish.

As your link states, the biggest danger from eating salmon regularly is from PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin, and toxaphene etc. Freezing & cooking will do nothing for them. Plus these dangers appear in all large fish.

As for:

  after all, all salmon sashimi you'd get in any Japanese place 
  comes from the deep-frozen fish.
May be the case in the US but it's not the case in the EU or, indeed, Japan.



This article links to nothing about safety.

It still amazes me in this day and age people still lack the ability to realise their culture is not the 'correct' one.

Many countries eat raw fish all the time and manage not to die from it.

Many people in their own culture eat raw fish, beef, etc. on a regular basis and also manage not to die from it. For example I usually taste marinating meat to determine if I need to adjust the flavors. I really don't understand people who criticize what others choose to eat. De gustibus...

Not all salmon is of same grade. Only highest grade can be eaten raw. Unless you buy "sushi-ready" salmon I'd not advise raw salmon.

Salmon isn't always all about the crispy skin. Ever had sous vide?


In general, I think it sucks. Sous vide salmon taste like canned salmon mixed with sushi salmon. Sous vide eggs are interesting, thus I have no problem with the technique of partially denaturing proteins.

Wood plank cooked salmon is very good. You get a nice smokey taste, but with soft skin. I agree, that it is not all about the crispy skin. Of course, a plank cooked salmon could be improved with a torch.

It's about personal taste, you are entitled to your opinion, however salmon can be prepared in many different ways.

Also a recent EMT episode of dishwasher lasagne


Been a fan since the beginning

There's a swedish blog (and book) about alternative cooking devices such as hair-straighteners, dishwashers and coffee makers.


I worked in two different restaurants in the early 90s where this was the method used to bake potatoes. I have no idea if it was ever common.

Every kitchen I've ever worked in has a commercial dishwasher. These run for 2 minutes a cycle and would be completely unsuitable to baking potatoes (or anything else for that matter).

I have seen them used to wash potatoes though, to save time. I can't say I thought it was a great idea but it never seemed to kill anyone...

As a fan of cooking without fire, I like this.

More or less than cooking with an electric stove, which is basically the exact same type of device?

Except it uses air instead of water for conveying the heat.

Title is misleading. The article clearly states that you cannot add any washing solution. So you cannot clean your plates, at the same time.

If you continue to read, though:

Instead of using aluminum foil, as many websites recommend, you should put the food into airtight canning jars or food vacuum bags. Then the hot water doesn't touch the food. So you can add soap to the cycle and really clean your dishes while poaching dinner.

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