Sous Vide (sue veed) means “under vacuum” and presents a cooking technique where food is heated to a consistent temperature in a water bath. Although it dates from late 18th century, it was revealed in 1960’s, when it was used by French and American chefs at expensive restaurants.
Experienced cooking chefs have been using it since, but it is not hard to do even as a beginner. Recently, it has become very popular among experienced chefs and even in households because of its simplicity and convenience. Many people use it and share their recipes with others on their blogs and websites.
The vacuum which is created with the vacuum sealer provides that all flavors of food remain in the package. The meat is tender and tasty, vegetables keep their original flavor—it is an advantage which is hard to find in other kinds of cooking.
When cooking in a traditional oven, we heat the food much more than it needs to be. That is why it must be removed at just the right time. If we take it off too late or too early it will be either over or undercooked, or varied throughout the cut—well done on the ends and medium rare on the inside. When cooking with sous vide methods, the temperature is raised just enough to achieve the right temperature for it to cook. We can remove it from the water or leave it until serving – it won’t overcook.
The important aspect is the right temperature. Because it is essential in this kind of cooking, it needs to be paid attention to. It is a good investment to buy a digital thermometer so you will know the exact temperature of cooking. For example, eggs cook at 145 F for about an hour, steaks two to three hours, at 125 degrees, and short ribs cook even more than two days, at 133 F. Every part of the food warms up to desired internal temperature, and the water evenly distributes it inside. If the temperature is right, the dish is guaranteed phenomenal.
The amount of water for cooking is usually between 5 and 12 liters. It can be done inside the regular pot, or you can buy a special one, with the Sous Vide calculator of time and temperature. Although it is good to have, it is not necessary. You can achieve the near same results with home cooking equipment.
Popular restaurants in the US which use this technique:
Boulevard – San Francisco, CA. While San Francisco has seen an influx of high end restaurants come and go since the dotcom era began, Boulevard—at the intersection of Mission and Market streets on the Embarcadero—remains the gold standard in the City By The Bay.
Alinea – Chicago, Il. Perenial 3 star recipient on the Michelin Guide, Alinea is one of the best and most sophisticated restaurants in the U.S.
Zaytinya – Washington, DC. Led by Jose Andres, Zaytinya offers an innovative menu inspired by Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisines with a modern twist. Their fully integrated sous-vide kitchen likely plays a key role in their well ranked success.
Flip – Atlanta, GA. Flip gives an exclusive experience of tasting food. They say for themselves that they “take the American classic and flip it on its head to deliver a unique culinary experience on a bun”.
Circa 1886 – Charleston, SC. One of the high-ranked restaurants which focuses on local products, high-quality ingredients, and Southern flavors. Chef Mare Collins takes mixes traditional food with a modern and comforting style.
Reef – Houston, Texas. Two chefs, Bryan and Bill make mostly fresh seafood, which reflects culinary skill which is never-before-seen among Houston’s high-ranked restaurants.
French Laundry – Younteville, CA – Easily among the top 5 restaurants in the US year after year, Chef Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley outpost, which serves a famous 9 course tasting menu, is as iconic as they come in the US.
Per Se – New York, NY. Perhaps not as iconic as French Laundry (few restaurants in the world are), Keller’s first NYC restaurant is a star in it’s own right and consistently ranked as one of the best culinary experiences in the Big Apple.
Tips for beginners:
To make it right and get the most of the sous vide technique, here are some tips that can help.
Set the right temperature. Pay attention to it at first when reading the recipe. If you don’t have the Sous vide equipment, set the alarm and check the temperature with the digital thermometer.
Dry the food. Make sure that the food isn’t wet so that it will get the same color everywhere.
Don’t overcook it afterward. If you decided to brown the meat after cooking it, don’t go too far. One or two minutes will be enough, so you can keep that effect of evenly cooked food.
Don’t overfill the bag. It is better to put smaller portions; it will cook as they should. If you put more than desired, it will not cook properly and it might get out from the bag.
Experiment! Try different recipes and have fun with it. You can cook so many kinds of food in it. Most types of meat will fit, and any kind of vegetable. You can cook eggs and fish and get fantastic results. Don’t forget that you can cook even sweets – ice cream base, custards, and even fruit!
While it is extremely easy and offers perfect results, it still takes a little more time than regular cooking. It can be said that this is the only one flaw that it has. For example, larger piece of meat will probably need more than one day to cook. Anyway, you can prepare it in advance, or cut it in pieces so it will be cooked earlier.
This different and interesting kind of cooking will bring joy into your home, and will surely be nice to make and try food prepared this way. Be creative and try it out, showing that it actually is offering us fantastic meals – and a lot of fun in the kitchen!