- All you ever wanted to know about this trending appliance and the real science behind it.
- 5 questions you always had about the Sous Vide and 5 reasons to buy one today!
The Sous Vide is hot and trending right now. You might have heard about it in one of the cooking reality shows you are binge-watching, seen some recipe videos in your Facebook feed or read all about the juicy, perfect-edge-to-edge-pink steak your favorite food blogger ate at that
2 star Michelin restaurant you’ll probably never go to. Did this innovative technique sound like rocket science to you? Definitely yes. Is it really that complicated and bordering astronaut food prep? Definitely no.
The Sous Vide may seem to be the latest cooking technology designed especially for brainiac kitchen nerds, but truthfully it’s been around since before your grandmother’s staple casserole: the method was first described in 1799 by Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, an American-born British physicist and inventor. American and French engineers re-discovered Benjamin’s invention in the 1960s and it was first brought into a restaurant kitchen in 1974, where else but in France. High-end restaurants have been using Sous Vide cooking for years but, once limited to the pros, this technique recently became popular for the average home-cook, making him, as you will clearly see below, not that average anymore.
1. How does the Sous Vide work?
Precision, precision, precision. The Sous Vide immersion cooking is all about accuracy and exactness. Sous Vide (pronounced “sue veed”), which means “under vacuum” in French, is a smart cooking technique that involves sealing food in an airtight bag and immersing it in a water bath. A cylindrical gadget simultaneously circulates and heats the water to a precise temperature that never reaches boiling point. Ingredients are thus cooked for longer periods of time and at lower temperatures than in traditional cooking, with heat transferring evenly throughout them. The Sous Vide will produce textures that you simply can’t achieve through any other cooking technique - and it will provide you permanent 100% control of the results.
2. Why is the precise temperature so important in cooking?
Imagine you want to prepare a nice, juicy steak on the grill. Or some roasted marinated pork loin. With traditional cooking, the exterior part of your food will be in contact with the metal of the pan or the air in the oven - both of which are much hotter than the desired internal cooking temperature for your steak or pork loin. The consequence? You need to take your food away from the heat at just the right time: if you remove the food from the heat too early, you will get an undercooked meal; if you remove it too late, you will get an overcooked meal.
Assuming not all of us are top-ranked chefs and all of us have, you know, a life, this could be quite a challenging task (not to mention boring) that will glue you to the kitchen, double-checking the oven, keeping an eye out on the watch, food thermometer and food color. You could get it right, but you could get it wrong. Not to mention that, in an oven or grill, “hot spots” can cause your food to cook unevenly. Meh.
The precise temperature guaranteed by the Sous Vide avoids overcooking, because the food cannot get hotter than the bath it is in. The results in precision cooking are even throughout the food, with the same texture from one edge to another, even if you are using very thick or irregular items. To put it simply, if you can control the temperature with 100% accuracy and assure the circulating water, you can predict the outcome exactly and get the same consistent, restaurant-quality results every single time. So you don’t have to be precise, the Sous Vide will take care of the precision for you.
For instance, a 3 cm thick veal fillet will need 1 hour of Sous Vide cooking at 50-52 degrees Celsius to be a perfect, juicy, rare dish. In order to be cooked well-done, the same fillet will need to spend that hour in the pot at 68-71 degrees Celsius. A 3 cm chicken wing (without the bone) needs 2 hours at 62-64 degrees Celsius to be the best wing you ever had. Don’t fret, there’s no need to remember this, most Sous Vides on the market have a temperature guide to make things easier.
3. Will my food taste better with Sous Vide cooking?
Definitely. Lo and behold, your family will eye you suspiciously thinking you took an intensive professional cooking course. The use of temperatures much lower than for conventional cooking will result in a much higher succulence of the ingredients, because at these low temperature values, the cell walls in your food will not break. Steaks will be juicy and tender as butter, pink all over. Fish will be creamy and not flaky. Your egg yolk will be moist and it will resemble a curd rather than a sauce. And vegetables will keep an outer crunch factor and a soft interior. All this will be achieved each and every time, with clockwork precision. No more guessing around, no more kitchen anxiety.
4. Do I really have to use packaging for the Sous Vide?
Yes, you do, but you don’t really need to use a vacuum sealer to cook Sous Vide. Placing your ingredients in a sealed environment keeps in juices and aroma that otherwise would be lost in the cooking process. For instance, your meat will extract the maximum flavor from the herbs it is cooked with. Also, the sealed environment will help your ingredients to keep its original shape and size - when cooking a steak traditionally you lose almost 40% of the steak. Not to mention that - geek alert! - sealing the food allows for the most efficient energy transfer from the water to the ingredients. You can use Ziploc bags, reusable silicone bags, vacuum sealing bags and even canning jars. We recommend heavy-duty, BPA free bags (high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene and polypropylene are the safest plastics to cook with).
5. Ok, what’s the drawback?
The only limitation the Sous Vide has is the lack of browning. The Maillard reaction, as it is called in physics, happens at a high temperature (above 100 degrees Celsius), so you will definitely not get that delicious crust texture a steak will develop by browning. Have no fear, there’s an easy solution: after finishing the Sous Vide process you can simply grill or sear your meat quickly on a very hot pan. This way you will get the browning effect on the surface, but the interior will remain pink, juicy and perfect.
If you didn’t place an online order for a Sous Vide by now, we’ll recap and give you a list of 5 reasons this is the best kitchen purchase you will make this year.
1. Sous Vide gives you incredible results, ALL THE TIME.
Because you cook your ingredients to a precise temperature and a precise amount of minutes, you will have exactly the same, consistent, excellent results each time.
2. Restaurant-style taste, but home-made.
Your food will cook in its juices. Perfectly tender, perfectly moist. No other chef needed but you.
3. Save time.
Place the food in the plastic bag, put it in the pot, set the Sous Vide and you’re done! No more triple-checking the oven, no more fidgeting. You can simply enjoy a glass of wine with your friends or help your kids with their homework while your 5-star dinner takes care of itself.
4. No more food waste.
How many meals you prepared ended up forgotten in the fridge because you were not so thrilled with the results? That’s not going to happen ever again with the Sous Vide
5. Less cleanup.
Sous Vide cooking means less cleanup for you. The pot you are using doesn’t need any washing, the appliance just needs a good dry with a towel and all you have to do is throw or reuse the plastic bag the food was sealed in.
Fortunately, the price for a life savior Sous Vide is not skyrocketing now so you can comfortably get yours without robbing a bank. The well-known Anova Sous Vide is 235$ with a 1-year warrantee and 800W power, while the ThermoVide powered by Optimum, freshly launched by Australian-owned and globally renowned company Froothie can be bought for 300$, boosting a 1300W motor and a 2-year warrantee.
So if you were intimidated by the Sous Vide technology, don’t. All in all, it’s far from being rocket science. It’s just simply heating food with water. But in a smart way.