This French Term “Sous Vide” means…”under vacuum”!
A cooking process that has been around since the 1960’s. This is when food is placed into a vacuum sealed pouch and then placed into a water bath or a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times. This process of cooking sometimes takes as long as 48 hours and cooks in a temperature of around 55 to 60 degrees Celsius. The reasoning around cooking at these temperatures is that the product, being either meat or vegetables, are cooked evenly, ensuring that the inside is well cooked without overcooking the outside, and to retain the moisture within the product.
This method is also used to avoid over cooking the products, as it will not get hotter than what the bath temperature is, bearing in mind that it has to be removed at the right time. Whereas with conventional cooking, i.e. roasting or grilling, variable temperatures are used exposing the product to higher heat levels.
Product and product size plays a big role in cooking times and temperatures. If for instance, you have a portion of fish, about 20mm thick, you would cook this for 18-20 minutes at a temperature between 40 – 60 deg C, where a 20mm portion of Steak would take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour at a temperature of 56 deg C. Steak? Cooked for hours in a vacuum bag? YES! You can sear/grill your steak to have the charred and browning characteristics before placing it into the vacuum bag, or briefly after the sous-vide process. The result is worth it, as the product being prepared under this stringent cooking process keeps it’s moisture and tenderness intact.
A key point to remember when sous-vide cooking, is that this process must be performed under carefully controlled conditions to avoid food poisoning.
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Keep it cooking!