Ambitious home cooks are always looking for ways to expand their repertoire by trying out new techniques that will take their meals to the next level. If you’re one of these adventurers, you might have wondered about the precise yet slow French cooking method of Sous Vide.
But what does this cooking method entail, and, most importantly, is Sous Vide worth all the trouble?
In this post, you’ll find a short comprehensive guide on what you need to know about Sous Vide before deciding whether or not this technique is worth your time and effort.
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What is Sous Vide?
French for “Under Vaccum,” Sous Vide is a low temperature cooking method that requires food to be vacuum sealed in a plastic pouch and cooked in a water bath for a long period of time. Though this type of technique is believed to have been first described by Count Rumford in 1799, it only gained popularity recently in France during the mid-1960s and early 1970s.
Typically, Sous Vide is used to cook the food evenly throughout, maintaining moisture and getting the inside properly done without overcooking the outside. By precisely regulating the water temperature through long periods of time, the cook has great control over the meal they are preparing even when dealing with irregularly-shaped or thick items.
What Equipment Does Sous Vide Require?
To properly prepare a meal through Sous Vide one needs a vacuum-packing machine and an immersion circulator.
Vacuum packing machines are used often to seal all types of food in plastic pouches, removing all air to create an airtight container for the food.
An immersion circulator is a cylinder-shaped device that is placed in a pot of water in order to control its temperature. Working as a thermometer, heater, and pump, it circulates the water to ensure a consistent temperature by drawing the water in, heating it up, and then letting it out again.
What are the Advantages of Sous Vide?
One of the main reasons why people use Sous Vide is to get their food evenly cooked without dehydrating it. Filets and pork tenderloins can be prepared to your ideal doneness level while still preserving – and in some cases even enhancing – their flavor and aroma.
Another big advantage of this technique is the control retained that provides for its great accuracy. Thanks to its slow process and the amount of precision required to achieve the desired results, once a cook knows how to get the their food just the way they want, they have complete control over all the different variables that affect the cooking process, ensuring that one can get the exact same texture and flavors over and over again.
Finally, there are also those who claim that Sous Vide can be a healthier cooking alternative. Because of the enhanced flavor and the vacuum sealed container that prevents vitamins and minerals from escaping, no additional salt or fat is required for cooking, allowing the meal to taste just as delicious without the additional ingredients.
What are Some of the Drawbacks to Sous Vide?
The first thing one should know about Sous Vide is that it is not suitable for every food. Flaky fishes such as trout, tilapia and flounder don’t hold together well throughout the cooking process. In some cases, chicken breasts can come out as a bit rubbery and mushy.
One of the major concerns regarding Sous Vide pertains to what is known as “the danger zone.” Pathogenic bacteria typically grows between the temperatures of 4 to 60°C (or 40°F to 140°F), and Sous Vide uses temperatures ranging anywhere from 44 to 64°C (or 111 to 145°F).
That does not mean, however, that Sous Vide is dangerous. In fact, this is an FDA approved method of cooking, and as long as you take proper precautions – such as double checking the temperature of the water – it poses no greater risk than any other cooking method.
Conclusion: Is Sous Vide Worth it?
Sous Vide is a fascinating cooking method that uses low temperatures to cook food through long periods of time. First developed in the 60s and 70s in France, it has gained popularity due to how it can thoroughly cook even the thickest irregularly-shaped steaks while enhancing its flavors, aroma, and retaining moisture.
Though there are those who might worry about cooking food in such a low temperature, as long as it is done properly and the right precautions are taken, Sous Vide is a great way to create healthy and delicious meals with incredible accuracy.