You’ve probably seen contestants on MasterChef reaching for the Sous Vide to create gob-smackingly gorgeous dishes to wow the judges. While it might seem technical, it’s actually one of the most foolproof cooking techniques imaginable.
Sous vide, which translates to “under vacuum” in French, is essentially a slow-cooking method that cooks vacuum-sealed food in a water bath using a very precise temperature and time setting that provides optimum results. Not only that, flavour and moisture are locked in because the protein is cooked in a vacuum-sealed bag.
Why Sous Vide?
Some of the biggest names in the culinary world embrace sous vide, among them Heston Blumenthal, who’s probably the most well-known for molecular gastronomy, and Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars.
Sous vide really is food science at its best. Cooking, especially for inexperienced cooks, relies on a lot of guesswork, something you are only able to fine-tune with experience and time. Sous vide takes the guesswork out of the equation and replaces it with precision and consistency.
Sous vide provides an environment where food cooks at a constant and precise temperature to its perfect doneness. Food never gets hotter than the water temperature and stays in that temperature. Sous vide also cooks food thoroughly from edge to edge so your steaks, for instance, actually are perfectly medium-rare all the way through.
The Perfect Steak Recipe
Expert butcher Nathan from @bullybutcher says the sous vide is the most foolproof way to cooking immaculate, juicy steak.
- Westinghouse Sous Vide Immersion Cooker
- Wolstead Steeltek Stainless Steel Stockpot w/ Lid 28cm – 12L
- FoodSaver Controlled Seal System
- FoodSaver Expandable Single Roll 28cm x 4.9m
- Victoria Seasoned Cast Iron Reversible Grill w/ Removable Handles 31.5x19cm
- 1 piece ribeye steak
1. Season a piece of ribeye steak with salt and cook in sous vide at 55C for one to four hours.
To set up your Westinghouse Sous Vide Immersion Cooker, do the following:
The Westinghouse Sous Vide Immersion Cooker is a compact and portable stick which works brilliantly without taking up counter space.
- Use the clamp to attach it to the side of the pot. Set the temperature and time. Make sure that the water is within the minimum and maximum level indicators.
- Allow the water bath to come to the temperature you have set then place the bag in the water.
- If your bag is properly sealed, the weight of your ingredient will make the bag sink to the bottom of the pot. You can also clip the bag to the side of the pot with a binder clip or clothespin to prevent it from floating around the water bath.
If you have a vacuum sealer, then half the work is done. If you don’t, simply use the water displacement method:
- Fill a pot with water.
- Place your ingredients in a food-grade, heavy-duty resealable bag.
- Seal the bag, leaving only about an inch of the seal open.
- Lower the bag into the pot of water but keep the unsealed section above the water.
- Once the water pressure removes all the air from the bag, seal the bag completely.
2. Sear it in a very hot pan and allow to rest before serving.
Other simple recipes to try
If you’re new to sous vide, it’s generally better to follow recipes before experimenting on your own. Here are some simple ones to get you started.
- Sous Vide Octopus and Oregano
Blanch the octopus and seal in a bag with lemon, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper, then cook at 77°C for five hours.
Season with salt, lemon, dill or thyme, and a bit of oil, then cook at 52C for 30 minutes.
The famed “perfect egg” cooks at 65C for 45 minutes to become silky and creamy.
- Chicken breast
Cook at 60C for 1 hour for hot, tender, and juicy chicken. Sear off the skin in a hot pan if desired.
Here, you can see how it is used to prepare salmon.
Sous vide generally involves much lower temperatures than stovetop cooking, so make sure that you use the appropriate temperature and cooking time that will effectively inhibit the growth of pathogens in raw food. You can also sous vide frozen food but allow for longer cooking time.
Here are some safety guidelines from the NSW Food Authority:
- Use thinner portions of food.
- Keep the water bath temperature at least 55C.
- Limit the time food is cooked at lower than 55C to no more than 6 hours.
- Use quality equipment with accurate temperature control.
- Use a sensitive and accurate thermometer to check the water and food temperatures.
- Store prepared food for no more than five days.
Douglas Baldwin’s sous vide guide for home cooks is an oft-cited online resource with time and temperature guides for various types of food.