Understanding Sous Vide Cooking

 Understanding Sous Vide Cooking

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If you are a chef or even a Hotel management learner, you have probably heard the term - "Sous Vide". It is a relatively new cooking technique. In this article I will cover what Sous vide cooking is all about and what you need to understand about it!

Sous Vide means under pressure/vacuum in French. it's discovery is credited to chef George pralus in 1967 while trying to reduce shrinkage on a foie gras at restaurant in France. Today chefs with or without a Michelin star have tried this technique in their famous restaurant so, this Cooking technique is gaining popularity across the world. By sous vide the shrinkage in meat was reduced to fourty percent!

This technique involves sealing a portion of food in a vacuum pack and then cooking it in a water bath. Sounds simple enough. The idea is that the food is sealed as if in a vacuum with a plastic coating. When the item is placed in a water oven it cooks and there is also no where for the juices and goodness of the food to go, which stays in the food itself but remember we need high-temperature, food safety grade plastics.

The food can retain all its goodness, Nutrients and a wonderful flavor. None is lost to the surrounding environment or degraded because of the cooking process.

The way of cooking air tight sealed food by sealing in a plastic bag for a long time, sometimes 3 day period of cooking or less is sous vide. By this, The food cooks at a temperature that is a lot lower than normal. The idea is to have evenly cooked food outside to inside; which helps keep the food juicier

When used this technique it was found out that it kept its original appearance, had better texture and didn't lose a lot of fat so, several chef started focusing on cooking times and temperatures for different foods. At this point in time still Sous vide was not a safe alternative to cooking because proper ways of measuring time and temperature were not yet discovered.

When the food is cooked at lower temperature the food becomes more succulent. The magic is keeping the food sealed in the air tight bag so the food may cook in its own juices. Basically, the meat does not become tough. Vegetables are normally cooked at high temperature, but with sous vide that is not necessary, the long cooking process and even temperature allows the vegetables to be cooked thoroughly but still crispy on the outside.

Overcooking does not take place because the food is not hotter than the bath it is in. Regular cooking methods such as roasting or grilling expose foods to higher temperatures and overcooking can take place. Sous vide cooking technique has an exact temperature control of the bath and the bath temperature is the same as the cooking temperature so precise cooking control takes place. This fact allows for irregular cuts of meat and foods are properly cooked throughout.

The airtight food allows cooked food to be stored for longer periods of time.

Cooking with a water oven is not good for browning meats such as steaks. It simply does not achieve that grilled, cooked, crispy texture that people enjoy because of not causing Maillard reaction. That's why You will have to either sear or brown the meat before or after you begin the sous vide process. I recommend you to sear the meat before serving after sous vide.

Sous vide technique must be done properly to ensure safe food conditions. Food cooked and served with in a few hours is safe. Food that is cooked for long periods for tenderizing must have a temperature of over 135 degrees for about 4 hours and the temperature must be maintained. This prevents botulism, a Food borne-illness bacteria.

Essentially you need 2 pieces of equipment to try this cooking technique at home.

The first is a vacuum sealer machine. You've probably seen these machines before as they have other applications outside of sous vide cooking. People use a vacuum sealer appliance to seal food for storing in the freezer or even to keep food fresh when traveling.

For sous vide cooking, the vacuum sealer will remove all the air surrounding a piece of food and then seal the plastic cover around the food. This makes it ready for cooking. Vacuum sealers work best with solid foodstuffs but don't work as well with liquids like soups or sauces as the process of sucking out the air draws out the liquid too. So with liquids, the vacuum seal is not really a vacuum.

Apparently you can get machines that do vacuum seal liquids but they are far more expensive. These are chamber vacuum sealers that eliminate the air in a chamber. Placing a bag of liquid in the chamber allows the pressure to be constant inside and outside of the bag. This makes it possible to vacuum seal liquid filled bags.

The second piece of equipment that you need is a water bath. These days you can get a purpose built water bath for sous vide cooking. You simply set the water temperature and time and dunk your vacuum seal food items into the bath. It cooks slowly and produces a uniquely textured and flavored meal.

And in this sous vide process, the cooking is simple. When cooking Sous Vide, you begin by vacuum sealing the food. Using the Sous Vide machine, you want to get the water to 147 degrees which is the perfect temperature to get chicken done.

Preparing the chicken is easy. Begin with your chicken breast, and season it with salt and pepper. Vacuum seal it in the bag. Then you'll drop it in the water at 147 degrees - and in 35 minutes- you have perfectly cooked chicken.

Besides chicken, you can also prepare meat at the perfect temperature, as well as vegetables, using the Sous Vide machine. This healthy method of cooking allows the food to retain its moisture, and its vitamins. I find the Sous Vide machine to be the easiest, most effective way to prepare meat.

Overall, sous vide is modern Cooking Practice which involves long, slow heat to enhance flavours. However, we cannot smell the product before cooking. By vaccum sealing all bacteria are not killed because there are some bacteria which grows without oxygen also. Moreover, it is expensive, need more investment on kitchen equipment and training to employee. 

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