What is Sous Vide Cooking Technique?
If you were utterly confused the first time someone mentioned sous vide (pronounced “soo-veed”), you’re not alone. The first time I heard someone raving about this technique that allows you to cook a perfectly juicy steak without having to hover over it, I thought what the heck is sous vide and where do I buy one? Well, it turns out that this posh-sounding name spells out a simple technique that involves cooking food in a water bath at a highly regulated temperature. The food is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag or a zipper bag to keep all the juices and flavors tightly locked in before being submerged in the water. The result is meat cooked to perfection, so it doesn’t surprise that sous vide was a well-kept secret of fancy restaurants up until the last few years.
You see, the key for sous vide is having the right gear. The crucial factor that makes all the difference in sous vide is that the water is always at the exact temperature it needs to be, and for anyone to achieve this, you need a failsafe tool- aka an immersion circulator or sous vide oven. In the past, sous vide machines were very expensive (upwards of $2,000), too big for home kitchens, and probably difficult to operate if you’re a complete amateur. The reason why sous vide cooking is now seeing a popularity boom with regular home cooks is that the equipment is fully adjusted- from the price that doesn’t have to exceed $200 to compact size and foolproof easy controls.
Now, anyone who buys an immersion circulator and has a spare pot can become a chef. Well, not literally, but with the food you’ll be serving to your friends, you could have fooled them. Meat prepared sous vide and then seared on a skillet will look and taste like it was prepared by a world-class chef, and the tender yet flavorful veggies from sous vide bag will wow even the pickiest eaters. Just set it and forget it until it’s serving time. But it can’t be that simple- can it?
How Does Sous Vide Work
OK, so everyone gets the part where you cook the food in a sealed pouched that’s cooking away in a hot water bath. But why should that give such fabulous results- I mean, it’s similar to boiling? Wrong. Sous vide also known as low temperature long time cooking method. This type of food preparation lasts longer (obviously), but it also preserves more nutrients, flavors and creates an out-of-this-world texture of tougher food such as meat. The sous vide keeps foods tender without overcooking them to achieve this: every bit of aroma and taste is preserved. In fact, the flavor is more intense with sous vide, as the food is slowly cooking in its juices for hours- not to mention spices and marinades.
The process is pretty simple. The seasoned food should be in an airtight container, be it a ziplock bag or a vacuum bag. This makes sure the food pouches stay submerged and cook evenly, rather than float around. Then, you place the bags in a water-filled container (some even use old pots!) and hook up your immersion circulator. Few clicks to set up the timer and the temperatures (per instructions), and you’re all set. Apart from finishing touches such as seating and adding garnish, that’s literally everything you need to prepare a restaurant-worthy meal with sous vide technique.
5 Reasons Why Sous Vide Is Amazing (As If You Need More Proof)
For me, it’s all about the perfect steak! My perfect steak is a 2 inch cut of ribeye, cooked to perfection, medium-rare. With sous vice, I can get that perfect steak, EVERY SINGLE TIME! It was precisely my quest for the perfect steak that drove me to try sous vide. Indeed, sous vide would prove to be the holy grail for steak lovers like me. Needless to say, though, sous vide cooking opened a whole other world to me- now, I prepare everything sous vide, from ribs to cheesecake. Once you realize what sous vide is all about, incorporating all kinds of recipes into your regular routine is the natural step. But let’s get into the specifics of what makes sous vide so great:
1. Sous vide has precise temperature control
- There’s no guesswork involved- once you set the temp values, that’s what you get throughout the cooking process, without any oscillations.
- Your food is not going to come out undercooked or overcooked. It won’t dry out.
- And you get consistent results every time!
2. Sous vide’s vacuum seal locks all the good stuff in
- Because everything is vacuum-sealed in sous vide cooking, it locks in everything! All the juices, all the flavors and all the nutrition value!
- Also, for the same reason, you won’t have to wash 5 different pans and pots after cooking a full meal. Just toss the bags and you’re left with plates and cutlery. A massive win, if you ask me.
3. Sous vide is great for pre-prep
- If you’ve got a bunch of friends coming over for dinner the next day, you can do all your pre-prep the day before. Sous vide your food, then stick it back into the refrigerator. Just before serving, stick back into the water bath to warm up and you are ready to serve.
- Sous vide also allows you to juggle several things in the kitchen at the same time. Once the food is in the water bath, you can focus on something else. And even if you overrun the time a little, no problem, with sous vide that won’t be a kitchen disaster.
4. Sous vide is great for tough cuts
- Brisket can be really flavorful when cooked well. It is a good example of a tough cut that works well when cooked sous vide. You can get it fork tender every time.
- As a result, you’ll save a lot of money on your choice of meat- without having to compromise on taste and quality.
5. Sous vide is perfect for fish and seafood
- Fish and seafood can be challenging to cook because there’s only a small window of time to pull it off the fire. Too early, and it’ll be undercooked. Let it go too long, and you’ll be eating chewy and rubbery seafood! With sous vide, your seafood will always be beautifully moist and flavorful.
When you put all these strengths together, you can easily see why sous vide is taking the world by storm. There’s not a sliver of doubt about the advantages this method of cooking offers. The only question that’s left to ask is- what’s for dinner?