Sous vide is a cooking technique that seals flavor into food by way of submerging a vacuum sealed bag into a temperature controlled water bath.
Sous vide is a relatively novel cooking technique that goes back to the rise of cooking vacuum-sealed food in the 1970s. Though sealing food in air-tight packaging was initially used for safety purposes, chefs spotted a new opportunity to use it to cook meals with precision.
But what is sous vide cooking?
From the French for “under vacuum,” sous vide involves sealing ingredients in an air-tight container and submerging that container into a water bath at a controlled temperature for a long period of time. The result? A safe and straightforward cooking process that rescues flavor and allows the ingredients to cook without disruption.
The Sous Vide Process
The list of foods you can sous vide extends way past cuts of meat—fish, eggs, or even certain vegetables are also popular options. Club chefs combine their chosen ingredients in a sealable plastic or glass container with marinades, spices, and herbs that they wish to season the meal. A vacuum sealer removes the remaining air and closes the opening, trapping in all the flavors to surround the center ingredient.
The chef then drops the whole package into a water bath controlled by an immersion circulator or a similar precision cooking device. Combi ovens are also great for sous vide cooking. (See also What You Need to Know Before Buying Sous Vide Equipment) When cooking meat, the club or resort chef may finish off the cut with a quick sear in the pan after it comes out of the pot, but otherwise, the meal is ready to go as soon as it reaches the desired time and temperature.
Benefits of Sous Vide
First of all, sous vide is easy and suitable for most club kitchens. Most professionals use a precision cooking device to keep that steady heat. Overall, the process often requires less effort for more precise results. It’s also helpful in operations where staffing is less skilled or on lines with fewer available hands.
Flavor and texture are undoubtedly the biggest upsides to sous vide cooking. The sealed container traps in the flavor while allowing the ingredients to cook evenly without ever touching the pan. Ingredients that typically lose their flavors to boiling water, the air of the kitchen, or the pan itself, cook evenly without sacrificing anything to the process.