What is Sous Vide and How Does it Work?By Angelica Malin
Cooking is an art that has taken several forms over the years with the incorporation of numerous techniques: some old, some new, or a fusion of both. One of those modern techniques is sous vide cooking, which is widely being used in high-end cooking and restaurants in recent years. Pronounced as ‘sue-veed,’ this technique is now passed on to local kitchens and also in homes with the availability of affordable sous vide equipment.
So what exactly is this technique that’s gaining a lot of traction? And how does it work? Read on to find out!
What Exactly Is Sous Vide Cooking?
Translating to ‘under vacuum,’ sous vide is a French term that requires a special tool to witness this cooking technique. It comprises cooking food at a regulated temperature for quite some time, which ensures thorough cooking and perfect results. The food is vacuum-sealed in plastic bags and put in a water bath with a consistent temperature. Since it slow-cooks on a low temperature for a long time, you can imagine the quality of the cooked food. It’s near to, or almost perfect. All the flavors are sustained in the bag while cooking, which results in utterly delicious food.
Since When Is Sous Vide Cooking Existing?
The art of sous vide cooking has been practiced since the late 1700s, but was only adapted in high-end restaurants in the 1960s. The first notable use of this cooking technique was marked in Restaurant Troisgros located in Roanne, France, by chefs Pierre and Michel Troisgros. A lot of other popular chefs adopted this technique and it has been popular ever since. The mid-2000s witnessed sous vide cooking in houses and local kitchens. Homeowners who love experimenting are avidly trying the sous vide cooking technique at home during events with successful attempts.
How Does Sous Vide Cooking Work? What Tools Are Needed?
Sous vide cooking requires:
- Resealable plastic bags or canning jars of varied sizes
- A vacuum sealer
- A water bath or an immersion circulator
If you cannot afford a vacuum sealer, you can simply use resealable plastic bags or freezer bags with zipper locks. Place your food inside a bag and place it under the vacuum sealer. It will suck the air out of the bag, conforming to the shape of the piece of food. A heated sealing surface is present on the device that seals the bag by applying heat and pressing it to melt the plastic. It results in an airtight package. If you don’t have a water bath, you can even Sous Vide in the Instant Pot that allows cooking with water at a stable temperature. Other options are using a rice cooker or a slow cooker. It is recommended to cook the food at a low temperature, as the softness is retained in the meat’s connective tissue. Cooking at a higher temperature and at a quicker pace will produce relatively tougher meat. Once it’s cooked, remove the piece of meat or veggies from the bag and sear it if needed.
Why Should You Try Sous Vide Cooking at Home? What Are the Benefits?
If you’ve been hearing and reading about this wonderful cooking technique and have been wanting to try it for a while now, it’s high time you do. However complicated it may sound, sous vide is actually quite easy to process. It also possesses a lot of benefits.
- Perfect Results all the Time
Since the sous vide technique follows a slow cooking procedure under regulated temperature, it retains all the flavors within the bag, resulting in soft and tender meat. If you’ve desired to cook that expensive piece of steak since long, sous vide is the perfect solution to gain stunning results. The slow cooking procedure ensures that the meat doesn’t burn or overcook but produces succulent meat that’s almost impossible to achieve on the grill.
- Gives You Enough Time to Relax
While pursuing sous vide cooking, all you’ve got to do is seal the food in the packet and drop it to cook for a while. It doesn’t take much time to prepare and gives you the freedom of being hands-free while it is cooking. You can either spend time with your guests or prepare for the other course. Even though it demands some time in cooking, there’s not much labor that is required for a sous vide cooked meal. You can even go run a few errands while your food is safely cooking at home.
- It Isn’t Too Messy
As we mentioned, sous vide cooking requires less prepping and labor to produce such amazing results. More importantly, it doesn’t make a mess and helps you concentrate on your other courses. Even after it’s done, all you’ve got to do is dispose of the plastic bag in which the food was cooked. There’s no need to clean the receptacle or any other equipment in this technique. The maximum effort that you’d need to exert is to wash the pan or grill on which you’ve seared the cooked piece of meat.
- It’s Versatile
If you have a family that demands different dishes every day and you don’t have the time to cook for all, sous vide cooking can come to your rescue. You can insert a packet of marinated steak on one end and a packet of chicken legs on the other, and you get two meals prepared at the same time. It saves a lot of time while meeting your family’s demands. Also, cooking in sous vide equipment is much better than cooking in slow cookers as the former creates an even consistency and doesn’t mush the food.
Lastly, we’ll answer the age-old question to wrap it up. Is it safe to cook in plastic? The sous vide technique requires cooking in plastic and not everyone is up for it. Branded sous vide plastic bags are made of food-safe plastic. These do not overheat or melt while cooking. Once you’ve known everything about the sous vide cooking technique at home, it’s time to experiment with your recipes and impress your guests with restaurant style cooking. It’s not only safe and healthy, but also delicious and hassle-free.