Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Asfa Rasheed
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Sous Vide Cooking Method Explained
Sous vide is a French term directly translated to “under vacuum” or “under pressure”, which explains exactly how the cooking method itself works. Although once thought to be a cooking method only used in higher-end restaurants, the sous vide cooking technique has quickly gained traction not only commercially but for at-home chefs as well.
When cooking sous vide, it involves vacuum-sealing food into an airtight, temperature-safe plastic bag. At the same time, you’ll preheat a water bath in a cooking vessel and submerge the vacuum-sealed bag into the water bath. It can be thought of as a relatively “low and slow” cooking method, as the water bath is preheated to a lower temperature, never to reach its boiling point. The food is then cooked for an extended amount of time, typically throughout the day. Because of this, it’s also more of a “set it and forget it” style of cooking that allows you to be preoccupied with other things and not solely focused on ensuring the dish isn’t becoming overcooked or dried out.
Why Use The Sous Vide Cooking Method?
There are several unique benefits associated with cooking sous vide style that alternative cooking methods can’t provide. Outlined below are a few of the most commonly recognized benefits associated with the sous vide method.
More flavorful & tender
When you vacuum seal the dish into the airtight bag, it allows the dish to cook solely in its own natural flavors and juices. As the dish continues to cook in the water bath, its natural juices are released, almost working as a tenderizer for the dish. This is especially true when it comes to cooking cuts of meat using the sous vide technique. As the meat breaks down, its natural flavors and juices are released, and the meat can better absorb those flavors throughout the cooking process. Not only does this make the meat extremely flavorful, but it also helps to break down any tough tendons or ligaments found within the meat, meaning that cheaper cuts of meat can turn out just as flavorful and delicious as more expensive cuts.
Saves you time & money
As mentioned previously, the sous vide method is more of a “set it and forget it” cooking style. It doesn’t require constant attention and oversight, thus allowing you to focus on other things throughout your day while it cooks. Many people today see that as a huge benefit, as it helps to save them a significant amount of time.
The sous vide method also helps to save you money, as well. When cooking sous vide, it helps to break down tougher cuts of meat that oftentimes are thought to be cheaper, as well. Examples would include chicken, pork chops, duck, and so on. Oftentimes, these cuts of meat are avoided by consumers because they’re a lot tougher to break down and, thus, tougher to eat. However, the sous vide method breaks down even the toughest proteins, leaving you with a delicious and tender cut of meat.
A Quick Overview
Here’s a brief overview of the sous vide cooking method.
Sous vide cooking is a method of cooking food in a vacuum-sealed bag, which is then submerged in a temperature-controlled water bath. The technique has become increasingly popular in recent years, allowing for precise temperature control and consistent results.
How it Works: To cook food using the sous vide method, it is first placed in a vacuum-sealed bag, along with any seasonings or marinades. The bag is then placed in a water bath that is heated to a specific temperature, usually between 120°F to 185°F (49°C to 85°C), depending on the type of food being cooked. The water temperature is precisely controlled using a sous vide machine or immersion circulator, which ensures that the food is cooked evenly and to the desired level of doneness.
Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking: Sous vide cooking has many benefits, including:
- Precise temperature control: The temperature of the water bath can be set to within a fraction of a degree, allowing for precise control over the cooking process.
- Consistent results: Because the temperature is controlled so precisely, the results are consistent every time.
- Retention of nutrients: Because the food is cooked in a vacuum-sealed bag, nutrients are not lost to the cooking liquid.
- Enhanced flavor: The flavors of the food are sealed in the bag, resulting in a more intense and flavorful final product.
- Convenience: Sous vide cooking is relatively hands-off, requiring minimal monitoring and attention.
Examples of Foods Cooked Sous Vide
Sous vide cooking is particularly well-suited to cooking meat, fish, and vegetables. Some examples of foods that are commonly cooked using the sous vide method include:
- Steak: Sous vide steak is juicy and tender, with a perfectly cooked interior.
- Salmon: Sous vide salmon is delicate and flaky, with a buttery texture.
- Carrots: Sous vide carrots are sweet and tender, with a bright color and intense flavor.
- Chicken breast: Sous vide chicken breast is moist and flavorful, with a perfectly cooked interior.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking Sous Vide
If you’re considering trying out the sous vide method, you may have a few questions as to how to get started and what all goes into the process. Listed below are a few of the most frequently asked questions about the sous vide method.
What equipment do I need to cook sous vide?
If you’re starting out, the great thing about the sous vide method is that little to no special equipment is required. As long as you have temperature-safe plastic bags, you can vacuum seal your dish in and a larger cooking vessel to preheat your water bath in, you should be set to give the sous vide cooking technique a try. Over time if you really develop a knack for the cooking method, you may consider purchasing special sous vide equipment such as a thermal immersion circulator or a precision cooker.
Is cooking sous vide expensive?
Although the term sounds relatively complex and higher-end, the sous vide cooking method is anything but expensive. Little to no special equipment is required, and even the toughest cuts of meat can come out flavorful and tender using this method. The only thing that could be considered costly is the special equipment mentioned previously, and that’s only if you choose to purchase it.
Is the sous vide cooking method only used to cook meats?
There is a large misconception that the sous vide cooking technique is only used for cooking meats. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the sous vide cooking method is used today to cook just about anything and everything you could desire. Listed below are a few fan favorites for cooking dishes using the sous vide method.
Although the term itself makes the sous vide cooking method sounds relatively complex, it’s actually an extremely user-friendly cooking method quickly gaining use by many. Consider giving it a try. Who knows? It may become your new favorite go-to cooking method!