Posted on April 04 2017
What is sous vide?
Sous vide literally means "under vacuum" in French. It's a method of cooking foods by sealing them in airtight vacuum sealer bags and letting them simmer in a temperature-controlled water bath for a certain amount of time. The idea behind sous vide is that traditional cooking methods, like grilling, broiling and frying, use high heat to increase the food's temperature. Because they use high heat, though, the outside of the food is typically cooked more in order to get the inside to the right temperature. This can lead to a loss of flavor, texture and even nutritional value. Sous vide, on the other hand, uses water at a lower temperature to transfer heat into the vacuum-sealed food, which cooks food slowly and evenly. This results in meals that are tender and flavorful.
How to cook sous vide
Sous vide cooking has two main steps: Vacuum-sealing food and the water bath. Your vacuum sealer machine will make it easy to secure the food you're cooking in an air-tight bag, but the water bath is a little more difficult to get right. The temperature of the water, no matter what you're cooking, needs to be exact for the dish to cook properly.
Get started by first preparing your food. If you're cooking a steak or a piece of seafood, place it in one of your vacuum sealer bags with light seasoning, fresh herbs or whatever flavoring you'd like it to cook in. I love packaging salmon with a slice of lemon and fresh dill, parsley and tarragon. If you're making meat in a marinade, use your chamber sealer. Then, vacuum seal the bag and store it for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. This is a fantastic way to cook for company, as the prep is done in advance and the cooking time can vary without repercussions.
If you're cooking at home, there are a few ways you can create your own water bath. The easiest method is to buy a computer-controlled heater like the SV1 that will heat water to the correct temperature and keep it there for hours at a time. There are also water ovens specifically made for cooking sous vide at home, though they're more expensive.
While most foods taste flavorful and tender straight out of the water bath, you can also quickly sear meat or seafood if you'd prefer.
Benefits of sous vide
Sous vide cooking is extremely consistent - you'll find you get the same results almost every time. In fact, sous vide cooking is so even and dependable that it's commonly used by top professional chefs in restaurants worldwide. Because the food is always cooked perfectly, the process gives the chef – and you - time to focus on other parts of the meal.