What is Sous Vide?

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Sous Vide was once limited to the pros, but what is it? You may or may not have heard of it before. Sous vide is a cooking technique that utilizes precise temperatures to get consistent, top-notch quality. It is a technique used widely in high-end restaurants to cook food meticulously. Sous vide became popular recently because of the vide precision cooking equipment, which is user-friendly. 

The term sous vide is French. It means ‘under vacuum’; the process begins when you vacuum seal your food in a preferably plastic bag and then cook it at a specific water temperature but not directly through the water. Sous vide is a common cooking technique because of the outstanding results. It is impossible to achieve such results using any other technique.

How is it done?

The entire process is not as complex as other cooking techniques; it is fairly simple. Three simple steps are involved in sous vide:

  • Use your precision cooker or a water pot, then set time and temperature to the level of doneness you want to achieve.
  • Get a bag that can be sealed and put your food in it. Clip it on the pot
  • Sear, broil, or grill food for a well-done exterior layer

Why sous vide?

This cooking technique is mostly preferred because it uses precision-controlled temperatures to achieve impossible results with other techniques. The reason behind this technique standing out is that with traditional methods, you do not have control over the heat. 

It is also very time-consuming, not to mention difficult to cook great foods every time. Most of the time, the food ends up overcooked on the outer sides with just a little bit of center cooked at the right temperature. The final result is usually lost flavor, overcooking, and a chewy texture.

With the added benefit of sous vide, you get to enjoy the following advantages:

  1. Taste – The food usually cooks in its juice; this ensures that it is moist and hence turns out tender and juicy
  2. Flexibility – As opposed to cooking traditionally, where constant attention is required, sous vide with precision cooking does not. It heats food to exact temperatures and keeps it there. Overcooking is not an issue.
  3. Waste reduction – Foods prepared with traditional techniques are dried up and wasted. A good example is a steak. When it is traditionally cooked, it can lose up to 40% of its volume due to drying out. When cooked with precision cooking, it does not lose its volume at all.
  4. Consistency – The results are consistent as the food is cooked at precise temperatures for a given amount of time. The exact level of heat is hard to achieve repeatedly.
chef holding meat and sous vide on other hand

What Equipment is for Sous Vide?

Sous vide is not exactly new. It has been around for a while but only in a few professional kitchens worldwide, particularly with French chefs. The major reason it was not as popular is that it was expensive and featured a lot of complex features. Eventually, it was adopted in shops but was only limited to individuals with a wide culinary experience and professional chefs.

Social media then came in, and with cooking shows becoming popular, sous vide became widely known.

However, it was not until Anova came out with consumer devices that were affordable that even home cooks started adopting it. Options of sous vide are now easily available. Other than the heating element, the following are some of the other equipment you need when setting up sous vide:

  • Immersion Circulator – The Sous Vide Cooker from Anova is an independent immersion circulator that warms up the water and then circulates it to maintain even precise temperatures. They are affordable and fairly simple to use. Since they do not feature a built-in water bath, they will not take up much space in your kitchen. Most sous vide devices do not require other equipment as you just clamp and adjust with the pot in your kitchen. Other options include Sansaire, Nomiku, and ChefSteps Joule.
  • Water Oven – These are fully contained, microwave-sized devices. They heat water but don’t circulate it around as immersion circulators do. Unfortunately, this usually results in inconsistencies in the food texture. Examples include AquaChef and SousVide Supreme.
  • DIY tools and hacks – A slow cooker, cooler, or rice cooker can help you try out sous vide cooking before getting the entire device. Low-temperature cooking can give the desired results. However, be careful with inconsistent temperatures.

Related read: Best Sous Vide

The Packaging

To prevent evaporation, food is sealed. This also promotes the efficient transfer of energy. It involves a simple process: put your food inside a bag, preferably plastic, then remove the air with the water immersion technique. You can also use a straw.

There are a lot of other options for this. The following are some of the packaging options you can opt for:

  • Reusable silicone bags – Since they are made from silicone, they are user-friendly and you can repeatedly enjoy the quality.
  • Resealable bags – These are versatile. Some heavy-duty ones we recommend are the Zipper-lock bag BPA-free bags.
  • Canning jars – Various foods can be cooked with this option, for example, grains. You can even try desserts like custard and cake.

Read also: Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

Should You Try Out Sous Vide?

The amount of control you have when cooking with this technique is down to the degree of flavorful and tender foods. It is also a much better alternative to traditional cooking methods.

Traditional cooking techniques when making meat, for example, result in overcooked edges and loss of volume due to the moisture lost during cooking. This applies to cuts of meat, pork chops, chicken breasts, or any piece of meat. For salmon, the sous vide technique gives it a flaky, delicate texture, but when traditionally cooked with the pan, it expels white albumin as it dries. This is due to the temperatures being higher than the target cooking. Even with eggs, sous vide results in them being cooked consistently with the desired texture. On the other hand, traditional methods are not entirely predictable and often result in a runny yolk that has over-thickened whited.

Precise temperature control improves the quality of your food, and unfortunately, traditional methods cannot be relied upon. The consistent temperature when cooking ensures food is well cooked. Sous vide is what we recommend if you are going for natural sweetness with an elegant presentation, as is the case in restaurant kitchens. The perfect temperature at a given period will give you the best result. We guarantee this!