When it comes to cooking really good food, sous vide is one of the highly praised methods embraced by culinary experts around the world. It involves using high precision machines to heat and maintain a steaming water bath at the desired temperature. You then seal your food in an airtight plastic bag and dip it in the bath. The food cooks at the preset temperature. It can take a few minutes to cook, or several hours depending on the type of food.
The machines used are often expensive. It also takes really long to cook certain foods such as meats. The question, then, that many people wrestle with is whether this expensive and slow culinary practice is worth the time and money invested in it. To answer this question, let’s take a look at the highlights and lows of using a sous vide machine.
Key benefits of sous vide
It preserves food flavor. This makes your food taste great due to its distinctive flavor. This is a quality that lacks in many orthodox cooking methods such as frying and roasting. With sous vide, your food retains its color, weight, and flavor after it is cooked.
Sous vide meals are healthier. Since the food is usually sealed in a vacuum, essential compounds such minerals and vitamins are not lost. The food also requires little seasoning because its original flavor is retained. The net effect is a healthy food with little food additives. Also, different meats require specific cooking temperatures to make sure that no pathogens end up on your plate. Sous vide allows you to cook your food at the right temperatures to achieve the desired results.
You can plan and manage your cooking easily. This is one of biggest winning points of sous vide. Depending on the type of food you are preparing, you can plan in advance and have it cook as you do other things. You may decide to cook overnight or all day long while you attend to your personal commitments. Again, you can cook more than one meal at once. Since it is simple, anyone can do it and achieve professional standards.
Sous vide can be used to fix quick meals. It is not true that it takes forever to sous vide every meal. There are several gourmet delicacies that take less than one hour to prepare. These include poached shrimp, salmon, and veggies. This makes it an even more efficient method of cooking since very little attention is given to the actual process.
It gives you tender and well-cooked food to the core. You do not have to worry about overcooking your steak with sous vide. The meat is usually well done as compared to pan-frying or grilling whereby the outer parts of the steak are overcooked. While pan-frying will give you dry and hard meats, sous vide delivers tender, succulent and tastier results.
Downside of sous vide
It takes away some fun from cooking. Cooking is an art that depends on the creativity of the cook to add various ingredients to the main dish so as to achieve the desired results. More often than not, results obtained by various cooks are diverse. This differentiates top-notch chefs from others. Sous vide comes to level the ground to a greater degree and enable more people to cook like professionals. Well, this takes away the artistic side of culinary escapades.
As mentioned earlier, sous vide equipment can be costly. This is a major deterrent to many who would like to try this cooking method in their homes.
There are also food safety concerns, especially if the recommended temperatures for each type of food are not observed. Cooking at temperatures between 40-530C can encourage bacterial growth on foods. This makes it unsafe for human consumption. While this is a general rule to all cooking methods, sous vide is likely to be affected due to the low temperatures maintained during cooking. However, when done correctly (temperatures maintained above 530C), this risk is averted.
While the initial setup cost for sous vide may be high, the benefits you enjoy are many. It helps you become a better, healthier chef even with a busy work schedule. Also, since you can overcome the issue of time by planning in advance, it makes sense to invest in a sous vide machine.
[About the author: Joe Hughes is an avid cook, writer and owner of Sous Vide Wizard, a leading resource in sous vide cooking tips and recipes. Joe enjoys trying out new things in his kitchen and preparing delicious meals for his friends and family. You can reach him at Joe@SousVideWizard.com.]