Sous-vide cooking may sound like some fancy French cooking method which is way over your head, but you may be surprised.
Sous-vide translates to ‘under-vacuum’ and basically refers to submerging your ingredients in a water bath in a vacuum sealed plastic bag with a very precisely controlled temperature (usually lower than traditional oven cooking).
While it does sound like the kind of stuff you’d only ever see in Michelin starred restaurants it has recently started to creep into the home cooking market thanks to companies such as Sous-Vide Tools selling all the equipment needed to get started.
The method has also been showcased on some of the many foodie TV shows currently on our screens such as Masterchef and the Great British Menu.
One of the most popular advocates of sous-vide cooking is celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal who claims the method will be the biggest change in cooking since the microwave. You can read his views in this Metro article.
So What Is Sous-Vide?
The process of sous-vide begins with sealing the ingredients in plastic vacuum sealed bag using a special chamber sealer. Removing the air from the bag means that the heat is transferred straight to the ingredients.
The bags are then submerged in a special sous-vide water bath, at a carefully regulated temperature, usually anywhere between 44°C and61°C. This temperature does not change throughout the entire process to keep consistency.
The food is then left to cook for an extended period of time. This varies depending on the dish but can be up to 72 hours.
Once food is done it can simply be placed in the fridge ready to be used whenever.
It may sound similar to poaching, although sous-vide usually uses much lower temperatures and the ingredients are separated from the water by the bag which means that no flavour is lost.
One slight issue with sous-vide cooking is that when your meat is done, it doesn’t brown like it would with traditional cooking.
However, this can easily be rectified by quickly searing the meat in a pan just to give it that brown charring that we all associate with delicious food.
- Like with any other kind of slow cooking, the fact that sous-vide takes so long may seem like a downside, but once your ingredients are in the water bath, they can simply be left alone, allowing you to get on with other preparation work.
- Are you the type who fusses over exactly how pink you want your steak? Sous-vide is great for this, and being able to specifically control the temperature gives you an incredibly specific level of control on the “doneness” of your meat.
- Because your ingredients are fully vacuum sealed or pasteurized, there’s no need for any unnatural additives or preservatives.
- But the best advantage of all is that because the juices from the meat are retained during the process, you get a much more succulent and tasty finished product!
It may seem a bit more like a science experiment than a style of cooking, but once you taste the difference that sous-vide cooking makes, you’ll no doubt want to give it a go for yourself.