Until recently water bath cooking appliances were only available for commercial use. But new appliances have made sous vide affordable for the serious home chef.
My first introduction to sous vide cooking was while watching the Food Network’s Chopped. The chef infused watermelon with lavender and pomegranate flavors. The color of the watermelon became vibrant and served with cucumber and feta salad it seemed to light up the plate. The judges raved about the concentrated flavors.
One of my favorite weekend snacks in summer now is a watermelon with tarragon and vodka from the sous vide.
Adding sous vide to your kitchen arsenal will definitely impress your friends. But don’t expect every meal to become boil-in-a-bag fantastic. I find I am adding the sous vide to a dinner dish to add more flavors or to free my time to make a complicated dessert or side dish. It doesn’t replace other cooking tools or skills.
My preferred sous vide appliance is the Slaiya Sous Vide Accurate Digital Pro Edition. This unit has a higher wattage and built-in timer. It is top customer-rated and offers a 2-year warranty. It comes with vacuum bags and the pump for sealing foods. The higher wattage helps keep higher temperatures consistent and it heats up the water bath in about 5 minutes.
Sous vide cooking is now all the buzz in 2018, but don’t think this appliance will give you endless hours out of the kitchen because not everything is done in the sous vide and nothing happens in 15-minutes — fast cooking this isn’t.
- Cooking in the vacuum-sealed plastic pouch sous vide assures even cooking without overcooking.
- Sous vide immersion circulators hold the temperature at a constant level and foods cook slowly, sometimes up to 2 days, to perfection.
- Sous vide also creates a positive environment for infusing more flavor into foods.
You can sous vide eggs, fish, meat, vegetables and even fruits.
Sous Vide can be a budget blessing for many cooks.
Tenderize the toughest cuts of meat.
You will gain time-flexibility with cheaper and often tougher cuts of meat which automatically require longer cooking times and are more forgiving to long, slow processing. The sous vide appliance keeps the water bath circulating at a precise temperature all day slowly tenderizing that tough cut and gently allowing spices to penetrate the fibers. A steak can be held almost indefinitely at medium-rare until you are ready to finish and serve.
A sous vide immersion heater used to cost thousands of dollars. The Sous Vide Supreme “kit” can be picked up for under $400. A good sous vide heater can be purchased online now for under $100 making it an affordable purchase for home cooks in line with the cost of a good pan.
Perfect edge-to-edge results
The water bath sous vide exposes the entire piece of meat to the same exact temperature. Unlike oven and stovetops, that cook with direct heat to the bottom or direct heat from top and bottom, sous vide envelopes the food at a lower temperature and brings the outside and inside temperature to the same point. Juices aren’t seared away at the edge of the meat and flavor doesn’t escape.
- An Immersion Circulator with the vacuum sealing bags. If you already have a vacuum sealing system, it will work fine with sous vide. Even just zip-top bags can be used here although the results are better if more air is removed.
- A plastic water bath container. (This is also a great brine container later.)
- A Cast Iron Skillet. It’s all about the sauce the finishing.
- Vacuum Sealing System. I use the FoodSaver, but honestly any vacuum bag system will work here.
- Binder Clips. The same large clips you use in your office will secure that bag to the water bath container.
- Pot top organizer (a nice feature for separating several pouches — prepping steaks for six). Separating each pouch in a pot organizer keeps each package separate for even cooking.
Four Steps of sous vide
- Preparation – Cleaning, portioning and drying food before vacuum sealing. (I would also say season and spice in this step as the vacuum sealing pulls the flavor through your food.)
- Packaging – Vacuum sealing or bagging foods for immersion. You can use a vacuum sealer (I use the Food Saver V-4440 2-in-1 sealer) but you can get spectacular results with a hand pump sealer or even zip lock bags when you carefully remove all the air.
- Cooking – Choosing the right temperature and the proper time for processing.
- Finishing – Searing, saucing and presentation. It still needs to be finished.