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 is better able to 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” style of cooking. 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 works to break down even the toughest proteins, leaving you with a delicious and tender cut of meat.   

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 just 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 to cook 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 when it comes to cooking dishes using the sous vide method.

  • Pasta
  • Meats
  • Cocktails
  • Vegetables
  • Seafood
  •  Yogurt
  • Custards
  • Eggs

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!

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