Do you love cooking but sometimes feel like your meals lack that “Wow” factor? Are you looking for a way to take your home cooking to the next level? If so, then you need to start experimenting with sous vide cooking! You’ll be amazed by what you can make with this novel cooking method; sous vide pork chops, sous vide salmon, or perfect sous vide filet mignon, the only limit is your imagination.
Sous vide is a French term meaning “under vacuum” and refers to the process of cooking food in a sealed plastic bag in a water bath. The results of sous vide cooking are incredibly tender and moist meats and vegetables, with little or no risk of over-cooking. So if you’re ready to take your home cooking up a notch, read on to learn all about sous vide cooking!
Here are some quick sous vide questions and answers to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Sous vide is French, so the second ‘s’ is silent and sous rhymes with you. The ‘i’ isn’t English either so vide rhymes with weed. “Soo-Veed”. See sous vide pronunciation is easy with rhymes!
It’s French for “under vacuum” but it refers to a method of cooking by sealing foods in a bag and then placing the bag in a water bath to cook them to the proper temperature.
The first record of this type of cooking goes back to the 1970’s in France at La Maison Troisgros, a three Micheline star restaurant outside Lyon, but it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that it began widespread adoption due to the proliferation of precise temperature control devices that allowed chefs everywhere to experiment with this novel way of cooking. It gained extra popularity after Kenji López Alt published The Food Lab and wrote about it on Serious Eats.
The main problem sous vide solves is overcooking. With traditional methods like frying in a stainless steel skillet or grilling and searing in cast iron skillet, it’s very easy to overcook your food and make it dry and tough. Imagine cooking a prime cut of beef tenderloin or a porterhouse that you’ve been looking forward to all day and overshooting it by just a few degrees, or chicken that’s just bone dry because you left for just a few seconds to check on something.
Sous vide solves this by allowing you to cook your food at a precise temperature and create a uniform temperature gradient across your entire meal. Yes, it does take longer, but while your food is cooking you can safely do any number of chores; walk the dog, fold laundry, or even pick up the kids from school, low-temperature cooking is safe, stable, easy to learn, and gets perfect results pretty much every time!
Food cooked sous vide style will taste according to how you season it and there are endless sous vide recipes to try. The magic is in the texture, this unique cooking process creates perfectly moist meats and juicy rare steaks with ease. So the food doesn’t taste any different after it goes through the sous vide process, it just comes out like a restaurant-quality meal every time!
All cooking involves heating up raw foods to the recommended temperatures to eliminate the bacteria associated. Of course, you’re probably familiar with baking foods in an oven, pan-searing, grilling, and boiling, but all of these options result in an uneven temperature profile of the food due to the large temperature difference between the food, usually a lump of meat coming straight from the fridge, and the cooking vehicle, think of a hot pan on a stove.
Sous Vide calls for creating a medium temperature water bath with a circulating device with a medium high heat element and placing the ingredients in a food-safe bag inside the warm water bath.
The warm water is hot enough to kill any potential bacteria, especially if you follow the recommended time cooking guidelines in recipes, but it isn’t hot enough to create the charred overcooked outside that ruins a perfectly good dinner. These temperatures are usually somewhere around 150 – 250 degrees Fahrenheit but can change based on what you’re cooking.
By leaving the food inside a plastic bag, the warm water heats the food evenly so that there are no undercooked parts or overcooked parts; everything in the bag is heated to one uniform temperature until you’re ready to take it out and serve!
Sous vide became famous for perfectly cooked steaks which you could set and forget, but still, come back to the perfect steak profile for whatever your preferences are from medium rare to well-done.
But that’s not all! You can use sous vide cookers for everything, but the best things to sous vide are foods you like at a precise temperature; think of;
- Sous Vide Salmon cooked so it’s not overly dry and doesn’t have any of the albumins (unappetizing juices that come from fish) that that comes from overcooking.
- Sous Vide Chicken that doesn’t taste like rubber.
- A sous vide filet mignon more than an inch thick that you don’t have to worry about ruining by over or undercooking.
- Sous vide bagged pork chops are cooked so they absorb all of the seasonings in the bag without being unedible!
Thanks to its growing popularity, sous vide cookers have been mass-produced by several well-known brands so you don’t need to be a three-star Michelin restaurant with a thousand dollars to spend on a cooking science experiment, you can get excellent sous vide cookers complete with smart-phone control and recipes very cheaply. A sous vide device is definitely one you’ll want in your kitchen if you’re a foodie, and it’s an investment you’ll make back from saved dinners and time, trust me! You can also get sous vide bags at your local grocery store if you decide to really make it a habit.
Or if you want to just try it out first all you really need is a cooler, a zipper lock bag, a thermometer, and something to cook but a vacuum sealer would be extra handy (not required though).
- Boil some water in a stock pot and add it to a cooler so it’s almost full. Add ice/hot water as necessary to lower/raise the temperature until it’s at your desired temperature. This will depend on the food and your preferences, but steaks are amazing at 125 degrees, so you’d need the water at about 130 F 54 C.
- Place your dinner in a plastic sous vide bag with olive oil, your favorite fresh herbs and spices (don’t forget salt and freshly ground black pepper), leaving an inch or so of the bag open to the air (don’t worry we’ll seal it later).
- Slowly lower the bag in the water slowly, letting the water surround the food and push out all the air. Carefully seal the bag completely. Double Check that it’s properly sealed!
- Leave it in the warm water bath for a few hours. You might have to check the temperature and raise it by adding more hot water if your cooler doesn’t keep the water warm.
- Sear your dinner to get that deep brown on the outside and serve immediately on a serving platter. Don’t forget to slice it with a sharp knife to take pictures for Instagram! You can use a heavy cast iron pan and cover in melted butter or throw it on the grill quickly it’s up to you.
Sous Vide will not sear your food. So you won’t get the nice browning effect to make your food look delicious, but you can add that by quickly throwing it in a pan or on the grill for just a few seconds after it comes out of the water bath.