What is Sous Vide?
Sous vide is loosely translated from the French language meaning “under vacuum”. Sous vide is a method of cooking any food item by placing it in a plastic bag then submerging the bag in a water bath or steamed environment. The temperature of the steam or water bath is generally much lower than that of normal cooking methods.
The temperature of the water is precisely regulated to stay at a particular degree while the food cooks for an extended period of time. Many different factors come into play to determine how hot the temperature of the environment should be and for how long the product should remain in the water.
These factors could be based on the type of food being cooked and the density, fibers, weight or thickness of the item. The food item is usually placed in a bag with seasonings, herbs, fats and oils then vacuum sealed to ensure the product retains as much moisture as possible and receives an even cook throughout.
What Is The History of Sous Vide?
There are three factors of sous vide cooking that were created at separate times throughout history.
- The method
- Cooking at lower temperatures and
- Separating the food from the elements such as water
Cooking at lower temperatures was introduced in the early 1800’s while the method and separation of food from the element were discovered in the early 1970’s.
It was in the late 1970’s that the marriage of the three factors was invented by a collaboration of scientists and chefs to become sous vide cooking as we know it today. Sous vide has advanced quite a bit and there have been several different methods of sous vide developed since then.
What Equipment Do I Need?
There are many types of sous vide machines used to cook with but only a few are widely used amongst chefs and home cooks. In commercial style kitchens and laboratories, they usually use higher end thermal immersion circulators which are not intended to be used at home. Some professional kitchens also rely on the use of a combi-steamer which utilizes steam to mimic the same effects gained from sous vide.
For Home Use There are Two Types of Sous Vide Equipment Available
1. PID (Proportion, Integral, Derivative) controller
The first is a PID (Proportion, Integral, Derivative) controller which uses thermocouple probes that attach to everyday rice cookers, crock pots and slow cookers to control the elements of the liquid inside them and the allotted amount of time needed.
2. Immersion Circulator
The second method and much more common for in-home usage is the sous vide immersion circulator which attached to a cooking vessel and controls the water temperature while oscillating the elements. The sous vide stick has become more user friendly over the years and now has the capability to be controlled by an application from your phone using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Make sure and do the research on the equipment you plan on purchasing first before jumping the gun and buying something you may not be able to use or will have trouble using. Also, read all our immersion circulator reviews here, and make sure the equipment is backed by the company with a guarantee or a warranty in case something happens to your machine during the cooking process.
Is sous vide cooking healthy?
Sous vide cooking can be as healthy or unhealthy as any other cooking method used for food. It really all depends on the ingredients added to the vacuum sealed bag. However, sous vide does have the potential to become healthier since there is really no need for any extra fats or oils to cook the food properly as there would be with other cooking methods.
Remember the choice to eat healthier is available to you with sous vide cooking but you have to make that choice.
Are the results better?
This is a highly debatable topic as the whole purpose of the sous vide cooking method is to provide a more even cook throughout the food product.
For instance, if you plan on cooking a steak using the sous vide method, the cook on the steak will most definitely be more even. You will be able to reach the desired temperature without having the extra greying areas you normally would have with any other cooking method. The sous vide method also helps the steak to retain all of it juices that normally would be lost if you were to grill a steak.
One factor that comes with steak that will become problematic with cooking through the use of sous vide is the highly coveted charred or crusted exterior of the steak. Sous vide will not give that desirable outer crust on the steak and may need to be seared after cooking, which may defeat the purpose of using a sous vide in the first place. But for many other food items the result will most definitely be better, there will just be more time involved to gain a better end product. But patience is a virtue, so why settle for less?
What foods are best with sous vide cooking?
Almost any food is able to be cooked using the sous vide method but sometimes you do not need to sous vide everything you cook.
Almost all proteins will be better when cooked using sous vide and most vegetables for that matter. However, if you plan to make mashed potatoes, it is just not necessary to cook the potatoes using a sous vide method since you will be breaking the vegetable up and adding other ingredients to complete it.
A good rule of thumb is that if you are wanting to cook a food item from start to finish using the sous vide method without having to do much more to it once it is done cooking then go with that route. But if you plan on adding other elements or cooking methods to the food product once it is done cooking, then there is probably a better avenue to take. Some other foods are just not necessary to be cooked using the sous vide method such as sauces or liquids. Aside from those, almost anything will be a great option to try out using the sous vide cooking method.
Why should I cook using the sous vide method?
If you are looking for a new and innovative way to cook your foods rather than the same methods you have been using then try using the sous vide method. The results will amaze you and you will feel like a mad scientist in the process.
You will receive excellent results every time as long as you follow the correct rules and guidelines set out for you. Your food will be evenly cooked, well-seasoned, moist and full of flavor. You may even be surprised to learn that you can cook some items using a sous vide that you didn’t think were possible such as baking a cake!
This method will take some extra time but will also save you the headache of actually cooking your food with a hands-on method. Prep the food the way you want to, place it in the vessel, set the timers and alarms and sit back and enjoy your time while the machine takes care of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.