Per Wikipedia: “Sous Vide (pronounced /suːˈviːd/ which is French for ‘under vacuum’) also known as low temperature long time cooking, is a method of cooking in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and cooked in a water bath for longer than usual cooking times at a precisely regulated temperature. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and to retain moisture.”
Or in simpler terms, how to get perfectly cooked meat, fish, and/or veggies every-single-time! Believe me when I tell you it is foolproof. Although there are a lot of pros to this technique, there are also some cons. But the former outweighs the latter as shown in the chart below:
- Grab the biggest pot you have in your kitchen and fill it up with water.
- Warm it up to the desired temperature you want your food to be. For example, if you want your steak cooked at 135°F (medium), warm up the water to that temperature. The concept here is that whatever temperature is achieved in the water bath is going to be the internal temperature of the food being cooked. Refer to the table at the end of this blog for a reference on temperature ranges and cooking times of certain foods.
- Season your food and place it inside a ziplock bag or vacuum sealer bag. Here is where the different methods below come into play (click on each tab to read):
Budget version: With items already in your kitchen
» Place your seasoned food inside of the ziplock bag, closing it only halfway, and slowly place it into the warm water. Make sure you don’t submerge the bag completely, only up to the point where the food is covered with the water. By not closing the ziplock bag entirely, the water on the pot will push out the air inside the ziplock bag.
» Once most of the air is out of the ziplock bag, close it entirely, clip it to the edge of the pot and put the pot lid on.
» Leave the food cooking for at least the minimum required cooking time, occasionally checking that the temperature remains constant using the thermometer.
- Once the minimum required cooking time passes, you can proceed to finish the food or leave it there to keep it warm until you are ready to serve it. One of the advantages of Sous Vide technique is that since the water temperature stays relatively constant, the food will not overcook by leaving it there for a couple of more hours. Refer to the table at the end of this post for a reference on temperature ranges and cooking times of certain foods.
- To finish the food, cautiously take out the bag from the warm water bath. Then, using a set of thongs, take the food out of the bag and seared it by using either a pre-heated grill or a pre-heated pan with oil or butter. A non-stick pan works but I recommend using a cast iron pan so you can get a really nice caramelization on the surfaces of the food. The searing must be done quickly so you don’t overcook the food here, about 15-30 seconds per side until you get a nice brown sear. About 1.5 to 2 minutes total.
- If searing in a pan, you can add fresh herbs like rosemary, sage or bay leaves, also some garlic or shallots to the warm oil or butter. This will enhance the flavor and help with the caramelization. Talking about oils, use something light like olive or avocado. If you want to experiment with flavors, use toasted sesame or chili oil for a twist.
- Serve and let it rest for about a minute or two before cutting and chomping. ¡Buen provecho!
And there you have it. It might sound a bit “technical” at first, but once you try it you will see how easy and convenient Sous Vide really is. Clearly you can mix and match any of the methods above, like getting the Sous Vide machine and using ziplock bags.
Although Sous Vide seems like the perfect match between food science and culinary arts, remember that at the end you can use your creativity to adapt it to your cooking style.
Click on each tab below for information about temperature ranges and cooking times of each food:
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