The sous vide cooking method is becoming increasingly popular with home cooks and professional chefs – it’s relatively simple to use and can give you a great consistency and flavor for a whole range of dishes.
In this article we take a look at some hints and tips on how to get the most out of your sous vide equipment and create some great meals for your restaurant or family and friends.
How do you cook sous vide?
There are a couple of essential steps when cooking food in the sous vide method. Firstly the food that you are cooking must be vacuum-sealed in plastic pouches – you can’t just use any plastic bags, you have to use plastic pouches that are certified as being suitable for cooking food; secondly you need a water bath – you are placing the sealed plastic pouches into the water bath to cook. The water in the water bath must be heated to a specified temperature and maintained at that temperature. A common mistake with sous vide cooking is to undercook the food – it is important to follow the cooking instructions to ensure that the food is fully cooked, generally it is better to cook for longer as there is little risk of over-cooking. Finally, to finish, most food prepared using the sous vide technique benefits from being browned or seared in a hot pan for extra flavor and to complete the cooking process.
Types of food that can be cooked with the sous vide technique
There is a huge range of food that will work when cooked using the sous vide technique. Meats in particular are a popular choice – red meats, white meats, game – the sous vide technique ensures that the meat does not dry out during the cooking process, remaining moist and tender and full of flavor. Vegetables can also be cooked using the sous vide technique, plus also eggs. Sous vide cooking is also suitable for desserts – fruit can be cooked sous vide, as well as custards and sauces. Essentially any food that requires a precise cooking temperature can be cooked using the sous vide technique.
A different approach to seasoning
Because the sous vide process, with the food sealed by a vacuum packaging machine, effectively locks in a food’s natural flavors you don’t need to season your cooking as heavily as you would if cooking with more conventional techniques. Seasoning sheets are a product that have been developed specifically for sous vide cooking, you seal them into the plastic pouch with the food and during the cooking process the sheet transfers its seasoning to the food. The other thing to be aware of with seasoning and sous vide cooking is that because you are using a lower temperature then raw seasonings will not develop flavor in the same way – for example raw garlic won’t really work well so for a garlic flavor you need to look at garlic powdered or garlic that has already been roasted.
There is a world of innovation awaiting you in the kitchen – get started with the sous vide technique and expand your repertoire.