Smell-Free, Care-Free Infusions: Sous Weed

Monica Lo found a solution to an age-old issue that’s plagued cannabis connoisseurs since the dawn of plant prohibition: how to make cannabis-infused foods without letting the whole damn neighborhood know about it. Her blog, Sous Weed, teaches others exactly how do just that by using a renowned French culinary method—and, of course, cannabis. 

 Sous Weed is a food blog dedicated to the use of cannabis as a superfood in home kitchens. The site showcases more than 200 sweet, spicy and savory infused recipes, including “Medicated Cookies and Cream Popsicles,” “Trippy Veggie Tart” and “CBD Quinoa Bowl with Miso-Glazed Shrimp.” All recipes and photos on the site are created solely by Monica Lo.

Lo lends her talents to various food and cannabis brands and cookbooks such as Sous Vide Made Simple and Sous Vide at Home. Lo is recognized by Banana Mag as a trailblazer for Asian Americans in the cannabis industry and is ranked as one of the top five chefs breaking stereotypes by Bon Appétit Magazine’s “Healthyish.”

 The infused foodie queen is helping to lead the cannabis cuisine revolution, but as she explained, it’s a role she fell into rather serendipitously. “I was sucked into the cannabis industry through Sous Weed, my passion project, about five years ago,” she said.  

Lo is a creator at heart, and a foodie by nature. “I come from a family of food lovers. I grew up helping in the kitchen with my parents. It’s definitely become a form of relaxation and therapy for me,” she said. “I enjoy going to farmer’s markets, experimenting with new ingredients and cooking for my friends.” The Texas-born artist comes from a career in marketing and design, which brought her to places like Brooklyn and San Francisco, where she currently resides. 

Lo launched Sous Weed in 2015 as a way to document the cannabis-infused recipes she had created after she suffered a herniated disc. “I didn’t want to pop all the painkillers I was prescribed, so I switched to cannabis,” she explained.

Lo sought to create her own medibles, but her living situation did not allow for it. “At the time, I had a strict landlord, and no cannabis smells were allowed from our apartment, which meant using a crockpot or cooking on the stovetop was out of the question,” she said.  

 She found sous vide—a French term for “under vacuum” —to be the ultimate solution. “I was the creative director at a sous vide startup, and thought I’d make my infusions using our machines,” Lo added, “and it worked!” 

Sous vide is “the process of sealing food in an airtight container—usually a vacuum sealed bag [or mason jar]—and then cooking that food in temperature-controlled water,” according to Bon Appetit. “There’s no contact with a heated metal surface. No contact with flames or steam or smoke. The water never comes to a boil.”

Because the method requires food to be sealed and submerged, “there’s absolutely no smell,” Lo said. At least not until the bag is opened. Even then, a slight herbaceous aroma will fill your nostrils but not your home, she assured.   

Chefs throughout the world revere the sous vide process. It is famous for delivering thoroughly cooked protein. While the method has been used mostly in high-end restaurants, it’s becoming popular in home kitchens for its ease and efficiency.

Sous Weed offers practical advice for both beginners and enthusiasts to understand how to use cannabis and create infused dishes without mess, smell or worry.

The concept sounds intimidating—thanks especially to its French origin, Lo quips—but the process is not. It’s as easy as putting ingredients into a bag, setting it in the precisely heated water and forgetting about it until it’s done, she explained.

There is no need to babysit a crockpot or stovetop anymore, “You will get precise temperature control with the sous vide technique, unlike the stovetop … where the flame is unpredictable,” Lo said.

Aside from simplicity, sous vide-made meals boost tons of benefits for those looking to make their own infused foods. For starters, “it’s discreet and aroma-free during the infusion process, which is great for people who live in shared spaces,” Lo noted. It’s also important for those living in regions or states with that have prohibited or limited cannabis use.  

While the smell is concealed, the flavor is amplified. Lo said that the Sous Weed process allows for “a full-spectrum infusion, since the cannabis is sealed in the bag [meaning there’s] no evaporation,” she continued. “The delicate terpenes and herbaceous aromas are left intact, so there’s minimal bitterness and no skunk/acrid flavors.”

The method makes it simple to infuse cannabinoids into various fats, oils, sugar and alcohol. Plus, Lo said, “You can make multiple infusions at once,” with the use of different bags, which, she pointed out, “is great for strain-specific infusions.”

Eliminating aromas while enhancing flavor effortlessly is reason enough to consider Lo’s Sous Weed method for infused goodies. Another major advantage is that it is a cost-effective solution to buying edibles, which can be expensive and hard to find in regions where access to cannabis remains limited 

“If you’re living in a legal state, you’re probably experiencing higher prices due to new licensing costs and taxes,” Lo explained. “If you need a higher dosage for medical purposes, the new 10 mg-per-serving dosage laws in California might be [limiting] to you.” She also noted, “When you make your own cannabis infusions, you can … dose yourself to your own personal preference.” 

Many of the tools needed for sous vide are household items, like a crockpot and a mason jar. The only other thing required is a sous vide machine, which can run anywhere from $60 to over $200. The machine works by circulating the water at a set temperature. 

Sous Weed recipes can take a few minutes to a few hours to complete. Lo recommends preparing infusions, such as oils, in advance to cut down prep time. 

“Once you have infusions in your pantry, you can do a lot fairly quickly.” For example, her gazpacho recipes take only a few minutes with the right ingredients and a blender. Sous Weed provides dozens of other quick and easy recipes as well.

Over the years, Lo has had her fair share of cooking failures. One of those challenges was in nailing the Medicated Soup Dumplings recipe. Getting the wrapper and the soup to come out right was a long but fun experiment.

Lo is currently working on sharing recipes inspired by her Taiwanese heritage and her childhood. “I recently made an infused lard with garlic cookie. It smells garlicky, musty and earthy,” she described. “This particular strain works great in savory Asian dishes, since we use so many aromatic herbs and alliums.”

Lo loves bold flavors; she works with “a lot of chilies, citrus, garlic and fish sauce,” she said. One of her favorite recipes is her Medicated Sichuan-Style Spicy Wontons. She credits her love of spicy food to her grandpa, who was born in the Sichuan province of China and fled to Taiwan during the Chinese Revolution of 1949. 

Lo is committed to de-stigmatizing and demystifying cannabis within Asian American communities. She believes that food changes minds. “Everybody eats, everybody enjoys food,” she said, “so edibles are a low barrier to entry and a great way to introduce cannabis into your life. And you can do it in a healthy way by making your own infusions.” Her goal is to normalize the nutrient-dense plant in diets by showcasing it as a superfood and a culinary challenge just like any other.  

For more information about Sous Weed, visit SousWeed.com or @sousweed on Instagram.

Emerald contributor since February 2016

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