When you go to a fancy restaurant and bite into the most perfectly cooked steak, the chances are your steak was cooked sous vide. Cooking food sous vide (pronounced sooVEED) is the secret of a lot of great restaurants, and it’s also becoming a lot more mainstream. There are a whole range of sous vide devices available now for home cooks, but what is sous vide cooking, and do you actually need another new-fangled gadget to cook sous vide? Read on, and I’ll tell you all about it.
What does it mean?
Sous vide cooking began in France (of course) in the 70’s and literally means ‘under vacuum’ in French.
How does it work?
Food (e.g a raw steak) is placed in a bag (BPA-free), then vacuum sealed and put in a water bath to cook. The water bath is set to a very precise temperature using a sous vide device, which is immersed in the water. This ensures food is cooked consistently and perfectly every time. That’s why restaurants love it. Got an order of 10 medium rare steaks? No problem: When you cook them in a water bath sous vide, they are all perfectly cooked and just need a flash in the pan before serving.
Why do I need to cook sous vide?
- It makes you a better cook, because it takes the guesswork out of cooking. If you are scared of making any sort of homemade custard or butter sauce like Hollandaise, sous vide cooking will change all that. The beauty of cooking an egg custard sous vide is that your eggs won’t curdle because you’ve set the water bath to exactly the right temperature.
- Sous vide cooking may be more nutritious and better for you. As you are cooking food in its own juices, a lot of the nutrients are maintained instead of being boiled off. Another advantage to cooking food in a bag is that you don’t need extra fat like butter and oil to cook it. Win!
- Cooking sous vide means you can get the most out of cheap cuts of meat. You can cook flank steak for longer at just the right temperature, and it will be as tender as a filet mignon. This moist cooking technique braises the meat and breaks down all those tough fibers.
- Custom made cocktails and liqueurs anyone? It’s not that well known, but you can make the most delicious infused spirits like limoncello and cherry infused bourbon with the sous vide method. You can set the water bath to just the right temperature to infuse all that flavor.
- Cooking sous vide is great for parties. If you’re having a big group of people over, you can cook all the meat in advance, and just whip it out when everyone is ready to eat. No more standing over a stove with a meat thermometer wondering if that meat is actually cooked. You can even make tricky dishes like this Sous Vide Duck Breast for a crowd.
What can I buy?
There are a couple of different devices available on the market. You can get an immersion circulator, which is a tool that you put in your own pot to make a water bath, and it will maintain the right temperature. Some of these devices can even be operated via Bluetooth or an app on your phone.
Here are some of the most popular immersion sous vide tools:
You can also get a self-contained sous vide water oven. Here are two great water bath options:
You can also buy nothing and use a Dutch oven and a candy thermometer like Chef John; try his recipe for Sous Vide New York Strip. This method may be a little more unpredictable, but it might be a good way to try out the technique.
- Check out more sous vide recipes.