If you’ve never heard of sous-vide cooking, it could be about to change everything for you!
Pronounced ‘Soo Veed’, it’s a French term which literally translates as ‘Under Vacuum.’ It essentially refers to cooking ingredients by submerging them in a water bath with a precisely controlled temperature.
Until the last few years, it’s been limited to use in the top professional kitchens. But nowadays, with much more affordable equipment, more-and-more home foodies are learning how to cook sous-vide from home.
Here’s a quick introduction to all things sous-vide and how you can get started.
How Does Sous-Vide Work?
The major components of sous-vide cooking are the fact that ingredients are vacuum sealed and the fact that they are submerged in hot water.
The water is regulated to a precise temperature, with the food held within it until it reaches the target temperature.
When you cook meat normally, to get it to a point that’s safe to eat. It has to be cooked at a very high temperature. Which breaks down certain proteins and can make it tough to chew.
However, when cooking sous-vide, because you’re using such a low temperature, these proteins are left intact. And because you leave it for so long, it pasteurizes. Meaning that it’s safe to eat. (If you do have any concerns about the safety of sous-vide, as some people do, check out this post from The Kitchn to set your mind at ease).
When your meat is finally done, the key difference will be that there will be a much lower temperature gradient. Which means that it will be much more evenly cooked, instead of with the outsides more cooked than the inside.
The one issue is that you won’t have that nice brown crust that you would usually have from cooking in an oven or pan. But this is easily solved with a quick sear in the pan or a blowtorch just to finish off. (Check out this guide from Sous-Vide Tools for more ways on how to sear your sous-vide meals!).
- Once your food is in the water bath, you can simply leave it alone until it’s done. Leaving you to crack on with other preparation, or just sit back and relax! And once your food is done, it’ll simply hold at that temperature, so you don’t need to worry about overcooking.
- Having such precise control over the temperature means that you can choose exactly how ‘done’ you want your food to be. And once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be able to get the perfect meal every time.
- Your food will be much more evenly cooked, with fewer parts being over or undercooked.
- You can cook large amounts of food at once. Meaning you can simply freeze meals and ingredients to be used in days or weeks to come, saving you time.
- When you cook through with more conventional methods, lots of the juices and fats from meat are lost. They either evaporate or go into the water which you’re cooking them in. But with sous-vide, because it’s all vacuum packed, all that flavor is held in.
So, if you’re keen to get started yourself with sous-vide cooking, check out this guide to getting going from Serious Eats.
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