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A Quick Introduction to Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide is an increasingly popular cooking technology which originated in France - the direct translation of ‘sous vide’ from French to English is ‘under vacuum’. The technique was initially only implemented in top-notch restaurants, but now it’s frequently used in homes all over the world.SVT


The basics

Sous vide cooking essentially involves vacuum packing your food, or sealing it in a Ziploc bag, and cooking it in a water bath. One of the major benefits of sous vide cooking, other than your food being cooked evenly and to perfection every time, is that you don’t have to constantly monitor your food in the same way that you do when using conventional cooking methods.

This is because the food is cooked at such a low temperature that you don’t have to worry about it burning. The low but consistent cooking temperature which falls hand in hand with the sous vide technique allows you to cook your food thoroughly without it becoming dry and because the method is so versatile, you are able to cook anything from steak to fruit.


The process

Step one: set the temperature

The sous vide cooking technique gives you the ultimate temperature precision, so you can set the temperature to the exact point which will create perfectly cooked food. So, the first step to creating your meal is finding out at which temperature it needs to be cooked and setting your circulator accordingly.

You can find a comprehensive list of foods and their corresponding sous vide cooking times here.


Step two: heat the water

With so many options when it comes to heating a sous vide bath, you will be able to find something to match your budget. You could use a high-end circulator, but you could even use your stove (however, using your stove is likely to be less precise).


Step three: seal your food

The next step is to seal your food (most commonly using a vacuum sealed bag), which ensures that the flavour of your food is preserved and that no food can get into the sous vide bath.


Step four: heat the food

When cooking food, you’re looking to do at least one of three things: heat it, tenderise it, and ensure that it’s safe to eat. Because of this, timing is crucial when cooking sous vide. Luckily, with sous vide, it doesn’t really matter if you leave your food to cook in the water bath for an extra hour or so, as long as your food isn’t undercooked.

To find out for how long you need to cook your food, check out the sous vide cooking time calculator.


Step five (optional): sear

Many people love the crispy coating which comes about from cooking food with more conventional methods. Although sous vide can’t provide you with this, it’s easy to achieve by searing your food after you’ve taken it out of the water bath. You can do this by using a torch, a hot pan or grill, or even deep frying.

If you want more information on searing food, this guide will give you some pointers.

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