If you are a chef or simply know your way around a kitchen, chances are that you have at least heard of Sous Vide cooking. However, if you have heard of it, but never tried it, chances are that you are a bit confused about how to get started with your new Sous Vide cooker. It can be difficult to determine where you should start and what you should try to cook first.
This guide will provide you with all of the information you need in order to get started as a sous vide cook. Not only will the guide discuss all of the tools that you will need in order to get started, but it will also provide you with some basic recipes to try out. These simple recipes are delicious and will show you why this method of cooking allows you to do even more in your kitchen.
First things First, What is Sous Vide?
Sous Vide refers to a cooking technique that was developed by the French. Sous Vide translates to mean “under vacuum.” During this cooking technique food is first sealed in a sous vide bag with a sous vide vacuum sealer. It is then heated up to a precise temperature using a sous vide machine. Instead of relying on precise cook time, a Sous Vide chef relies on making sure that the temperature of the water bath remains controlled.
Just imagine the last time that you cooked a steak. Chances are that you know the exact texture and color or doneness of the steak that you like. Now think about how you prepared the steak and all of the techniques that you used in order to get it exactly the way that you want it.
When cooking a steak using the sous vide method you will simply set a pot of water to the correct temperature and time and you will get the perfect doneness every single time.
While sous vide cooking is just recently becoming more popular with home cooks, professional chefs and many restaurants have been using this method for many years. It is actually a relatively simple method that you can use in order to improve many of your favorite meals – especially when you use a sous vide cookbook to guide you. This method allows you to remove the stress from cooking or at least the stress from making sure that your protein is cooked the way that you like it and allows you to focus on making more creative sauces, side dishes, or desserts.
How Does Sous Vide Work?
Now that you know what sous vide is, you may be wondering exactly how it works and why it is a better method than the more traditional methods that you are likely familiar with.
Here is a short explanation. When it comes to traditional methods of cooking the heat flows from a burner to the pan and then to the food or if baking something in the oven the elements from the oven will heat up the air around the food and cook it. Since the heat from the pan and the heat from the oven are much hotter than you want the food to be, cooking the food correctly will require you to take it out of or off of the heat at the perfect moment. If you take it out too late the food is overcooked, if you take it out too early it is undercooked.
When you cook using water instead of a pan or the oven, you are able to raise the temperature enough to get the food to the exact temperature that you want it. You can take the food out as soon as it has finished cooking or you can let it rest in the water until you are ready to eat. There is no need to check the oven obsessively or standing over the stove. You can even sear your food with a sous vide torch for that crisp grill feel!
Why Choose to Learn Sous Vide?
Now that you know what sous vide is, the question becomes, why learn to use this method of cooking? While the name sous vide may sound fancy, it is actually a much simpler form of cooking than the name might suggest. Sous vide cooking is really as simple as sealing the ingredients in plastic and placing them in a combi oven, water bath, or other type of cooker that is capable of holding a target temperature to within a degree or two. Once the food reaches the target temp or time, you remove it, finish it off, and then serve it to your guests. The process is really that easy.
Not only is the method quite simple, but it provides you with results that are almost impossible to get when cooking using a traditional method. It is easy to overcook many types of meat including steak, ribs, pork of any kind, and even chicken. When you use the sous vide method you are going to get perfect entrees each and every time. Not only will the food be cooked perfectly, but it will be perfectly tender and moist, just the way that it should be.
Meats and seafood are difficult to cook properly as there is a short window of time and technique that has to be used in order to get it perfect. For example, when frying fish the flesh has a narrow temperature range. The cooking temperature of the pan is going to be much hotter than the ideal temperature of the fish, which means that the edges are going to end up being much more cooked than the center when you are pan frying it.
Poultry products need to be held at a certain temperature in order to kill pathogens and make the food safe to eat. When cooking poultry using a traditional method it can be difficult to get it to that perfect temperature. However, when using sous vide you will be keeping the poultry at a target temp for a specific amount of time. This process pasteurizes the poultry, making it safe to eat.
Cooking and preserving food in a sealed package is actually an ancient technique. Throughout history food has been potted in fat, wrapped in leaves, sealed inside animal bladders, or packed in salt before it is cooked. For many years people have known that isolating food from the air can be accomplished through vacuum sealing and can lower the amount of decay of the food. In addition, using these packages will prevent the food from drying out.
Sous vide as mentioned translates to mean under vacuum. However, the main feature of this cooking method is not the vacuum sealing or packaging, but rather accurate temperature control. Using a computer controlled heater will warm the water to any temperature that is set and can keep the temperature for many hours or even days.
There are several advantages of using uniformity of temperature and temperature control when cooking. First, this will allow you to cook the food to an even doneness the entire way through. There will be no dry edges and centers that are rare. Secondly, the results are highly repeatable.
One more reason to cook sous vide is that the bag will create a fully humid environment that will braise the food. The ingredients cooked using this method are tenderer and juicier. Sous vide does not provide a brown edge, but this can easily be completed by searing off the meat once it has finished cooking.
Ready to get started? Check out our guide to the Best Sous Vide Machine Reviews!