Sous vide is French for « under vacuum » and describe a method of cooking in vacuum sealed plastic pouches at low temperatures for long times.
The method was developed by Georges Pralus in the mid-1970s for the Restaurant Troisgros (of Pierre and Michel Troigros in Roanne, France) but remains mostly used by high class restaurants or for industrial purposes.
Sous vide cooking method differs from conventional cooking methods in two fundamental ways: the raw food is vacuumed sealed in plastic pouches and the food is cooked using precisely controlled heating.
If you cook a thick-cut steak on a grill or oven and want it medium-rare then you are expecting the middle of your steak reaching approx 50°C (120°F). Nevertheless your 500°C (1,000°F) grill or oven will result in a burnt meat on the outside turning to medium rare progressively in the middle.
Sous vide cooking method will give a cook a perfect control of the temperature of the cooking process but also of the inside of the food. In other words, sous vide cooking method allows you determining exactly the end result and replicating it over and over.
Main advantages of cooking sous vide technique can be summarized as follow:
- the hermetic seal created in a sous vide bag traps flavour that would otherwise be lost. Therefore taste and aroma are improved (avoid aromatic addition);
- preserves vitamins and fat contents;
- respects of the product which preserves its tender and juicy texture;
- allows a better planning and management of time in the kitchen;
- saves energy costs compared to traditional cooking (grill or oven);
- stops the development of the aerobic flora.
- the price of the boiling apparatuses (mainly immersion heater) allowing an accurate check of the temperature is still high (USD 800 as a minimum). You can also use a sous vide cooking controller combined with a rice cooker which is a cheap solution or even cook on a stove;
- risk development of the anaerobic flora in surface of the products;
- sous vide cooking method is not adapted to all the products (the fish can have a poached aspect, the pointed ends of the bones or edges can bore the vacuum bag…).