I think it would be helpful to start our three part discussion of sous vide cooking by first breaking down the sous vide basics. So today we’re going to discuss what sous vide is, how it works, some of the benefits of this cooking method, and most importantly why chefs use it in their kitchens.
Sous vide (a French term, meaning under vacuum) is a method of cooking where food is vacuum sealed in a bag, then cooked at a controlled temperature in a water bath. The process of sous vide can be done on a large scale in a commissary kitchen, but most people are more familiar with it as part of an individual restaurant kitchen.
Consistency is probably the number one reason that chefs like sous vide. Vacuum packaged food that is cooked in a water bath does not overcook, so chefs can cook and hold food at a precise temperature (say, a perfectly rare steak) until they need it for service. Vegetables keep their vibrant colors, and tough cuts of meat can be cooked for extended periods of time without drying out.
The sous vide cooking system is very simple: seal the food in a vacuum bag, then drop it in a water bath. Sous vide works great with almost any cut of meat, and chefs continue to experiment with sous vide vegetables. It’s important that the water bath is set at the appropriate temperature for the type of food (more to come on time and temperatures in part three of this sous vide blog series). When the food reaches the correct internal temperature, it can be served immediately or held in the water bath until it is needed. If you are precooking the items for use at a later date, the items should be removed from the water bath and chilled to safe temperatures before storage. When the item is needed, it can be placed back in the water bath to retherm before serving.
Sous vide cooking is a great way to simplify the food prep process in almost any kitchen. With just a few steps, chefs can have proteins prepped, cooked and ready to finish whenever they need them. In future blogs we will go over the sous vide equipment, as well as some of the HACCP considerations involved. If you have any questions before then, or would like to talk to one of our experts about sous vide for your kitchen, feel free to contact us!