The Why & How of Sous Vide

Sous vide, although a very old cooking method and ubiquitous in finer restaurants, has experienced an upsurge in popularity thanks in part to foodie media and the fact that the equipment needed to use the cooking method at home has become more affordable. But, if you haven’t been following any of the hype, you might be wondering what it’s all about, so let’s begin with the basics.

‘Sous vide’ is French for ‘under vacuum’ and in essence it’s food that’s been vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch and then cooked in water. The mistake many people make is to think that it’s simply boiling food in a bag, but it’s not; it’s about heating water to a precise temperature (much lower than what is normally used to cook food) and then allowing the vacuum-sealed item to cook gently over the space of a few hours. With sous vide, the food cooks evenly without losing any of the moisture. The other advantage, in addition to precision cooking, is that food is ready whenever you need it to be i.e. if you’ve set an item to cook at a certain temperature and it goes beyond the cooking time required, it can be held at that temperature for a while longer without impacting on the quality of the food.  And you can sous vide practically anything, from Halaal certified meat and Halaal fish to French fries and mashed potatoes – the possibilities are endless.

If you’re new to sous vide then steak is one of the best foods to cook for the first time. The reason is simple: with traditional grilling there’s always room for error – it’s easy to overcook or undercook your steak – but with sous vide it eliminates the guesswork ensuring you deliver a steak that is tender, succulent and evenly cooked throughout. The Food Lab has a very detailed guide on how to sous vide steak, from choosing the right cut with ideal thickness, to selecting the right temperature and cooking time dependant on how well done (or not) you want your steak to be.

If you want to try sous vide at home, then immersion circulators or sous vide water baths are the way to go, but while they may have become more affordable when compared to industrial machines, they still carry quite a hefty price tag. If you don’t want to invest in the equipment but would still like to give sous vide a try, you can always improvise using a zip-lock bag, pot and digital thermometer. ChefSteps provide a comprehensive how-to video of the stovetop version if you’re eager to try it out.

And last but not least, regardless of whether you choose to sous vide, grill, bake or broil your food; your first step should always be to choose the best-quality products; so, for the best in Halaal certified and non-Halaal meat and other food products, call N1 – leading meat wholesalers in Cape Town and Johannesburg who constantly strive to deliver on quality, service and customer satisfaction.