Long a mainstay in fine-dining French restaurants, a sous vide tool is becoming more popular in commercial kitchens. Home chefs are also discovering how easy it is to use this simple cooking method. Here's what you need to know.
What Does Sous Vide Mean?
Sous vide means "under vacuum" in French. This is a misnomer though, as the food doesn't necessarily need to be vacuum sealed in order to cook with this method. A simple plastic food storage bag that seals tight will suffice. The sous vide cooking method is basically cooking food low and slow in a hot water bath.
What Equipment Is Needed?
Restaurant kitchen equipment supplies stores as well as some retailers may sell a sous vide apparatus. One of the most common methods involves an immersion circulator. This device is hung on the side of a cooking vessel filled with water. It heats the water to the exact temperature you set it to as it gently circulates the water. You can also purchase more elaborate equipment that includes a sous vide bath.
If you want to try the sous vide method before investing in any special equipment, all you need is an inexpensive digital kitchen thermometer, a pot, some water, a plastic bag, and your stove.
What Are The Benefits Of Cooking With The Sous Vide Method?
With the sous vide method, you can "fix it and forget it." Similar to the advantages of a slow cooker, once you place your food in the plastic bag and immerse it, the heated water slowly, yet expertly, cooks your food. It doesn't require any more effort from you. You don't have to micromanage it; you just cook for the recommended time at the recommended temperature and it's done. This leaves your other kitchen equipment, your time, and your hands open to do other things.
Another advantage of sous vide cooking is it is safe. The food stays at a consistently safe temperature that doesn't allow bacteria to get a foothold. The food is also handled less than it may be with traditional methods. Once it is in the bag, there is no need to handle it anymore. Because it is sealed, it is also not exposed further to the air.
What Can Be Cooked With The Sous Vide Method?
With the sous vide method, you no longer have to worry about your meats turning out tough or dry. You can create succulent pork tenderloins, juicy chicken breasts, and perfectly cooked medium-rare prime rib. In addition to meat, fish, and seafood, you can also make otherwise time-consuming sauces, such as Hollandaise, as well as perfect eggs, and desserts like rice pudding and tapioca.