Monday, August 09, 2010

Cooking Sous Vide

Steak in Sous Vide

I found about Sous Vide cooking a few years ago personally from Thomas Keller during the NY Restaurant Show and his presentation. I admit that I was ignorant but Sous Vide cooking has only been popular for the last ten years or so. Sous Vide literally means "Under Vacuum". It was originally used in the early 70s to minimize product loss when cooking foie gras. Today, many chefs endorse this unusual method of cooking. With this technique, food is vacuum-sealed in a pouch and then slowly cooked at gentle temperatures.

But why chefs cook Sous Vide? Because foods become tender and they don't lose their colors, nutrients and texture. With Sous Vide, you cook food at the temperature you want for the entire piece: no piece is overdone or underdone. If you roast for example beef in an oven at 400 F, by the time the center of the meat reaches 125 F, the outside is overdone. So, Sous Vide is the answer ....

What is best to cook with Sous Vide? Any food that benefits from precise, low-temperature cooking is suitable for this method:

- Prime cuts of meat

- Delicate shellfish

-Fish fillets

-Root and bulb vegetables


-Cream bases (sauce Hollandaise, crème anglaise)

What will you need to cook Sous Vide?

- A vacuum sealer, chamber vacuum sealer

- Sous Vide immersion circulator

- Food-grade plastic bags

- Stockpot or any other container

Best temperature used is below simmering water. The highest temperature is 185 F for vegetables. Proteins are usually cooked in a range from 138 F to 160 F.

Salmon fillet being cooked with Sous Vide

All of the above are rather pricy (only the immersion circulator costs around $800) which makes it non-practical for household use. I would say that Sous Vide is a marvelous technique for restaurants and chefs but not for the average house cook. But if you would like to experiment and you have the cash, go for it. It is fun and definitely much healthier than frying or boiling.