What Is Sous Vide Cooking?

Vive Sous Vide! That is, vive sous vide in cooking, not in your life. Literally translated to mean “in a vacuum,” Sous Vide is becoming a stylized method of cooking that is taking the hot seat in the culinary arts. Though the technique is not new, it is becoming popular again for its, generally speaking, no-fail approach to cooking a meal that is the epitome of tender and moist.

Gone are the days when getting a piece of meat cooked thoroughly means scorching its exterior until it is equally charcoaled on the interior. Can we say rock-solid, anyone? The advent of Sous Vide cooking changes the way the world will see and view its meals, turning ordinary food into true culinary inspirations, rather than quick fixes to just make sure there’s food in the stomach. Easy enough for the worst of cooks, Sous Vide cooking can transform your meals and leave guests begging for more.

So What Exactly Is Sous Vide Cooking?

Sous Vide cooking involves placing food, typically meats and less commonly vegetables, in vacuum-packed, airtight bags and immersing them in a temperature-controlled basin of water. What this does, as you can imagine, is eliminate the drying effects of harsh temperatures and air. Instead, the meat (and/or vegetables) stays in a hot bath, but at a lower temperature, and cooks over a longer period of time.

sous-vide-bag

The consistency of the temperature over an extended period of time means that the pieces you are cooking will see that the exterior, as well as the interior, are cooked at the same rate — thus resulting in food that is cooked all the way through and to an extreme tenderness. The vacuum-packed bags trap the flavors and oils of any fatty tissue or spices added to the meat, giving richer, more tender and flavorful pieces.

Sous Vide in Your Kitchen

Though Sous Vide is done in many professional kitchens, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to give it a shot in your own. There are companies out there who’ve built products specifically for this type of cooking, like this immersion circulator or Sous Vide Center found at Williams-Sonoma. However, if you’d like to just try out the technique, there’s really no need to invest in one of these until you’re sure that you want to continue the process. Though, really, you’d be crazy not to.

What you’ll need:

  • Thin slices of meat and/or vegetables
  • A basin for water (think kitchen sink or water cooler)
  • A cooking thermometer, such as one used for candies
  • Sous Vide plastic bags (it’s best to use bags that can withstand the temperatures of Sous Vide cooking and that are able to be vacuum sealed to allow for the freshest and most tender meat possible)
  • Food-grade vacuum-sealer
  • Time (even the simplest recipe can take an hour to complete)

If you’re ready and willing to give Sous Vide cooking a try, you may want to check out this popular and easy recipe for New York strip steaks from AllRecipes.com.

As with all cooking, it’s important to remember and respect the temperatures at which food should be stored and cooked to avoid any contamination or spoiling, which can be potentially harmful to the consumer.

Images: John Joh | Javier Lastras

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