What is sous vide (and why do I care)?

By
Hannah Koelmeyer
Added
15 May, 2014

Sous vide is a very popular cooking method in restaurants – you may have seen the term on menus about town. But what the heck does it mean?

What is sous vide?

Sous vide is a method of cooking where food is vacuum-sealed in plastic, placed in a temperature-controlled water bath and cooked at a constant low temperature for a long period of time (usually 8–12 hours).

Why do I care?

The sous vide method results in perfectly even cooking. For example, beef is cooked to medium–rare when it reaches 45°C. If you cook beef sous vide at a constant 45°C temperature, then eventually, the entire piece of meat will reach 45°C. No part of the meat will be above or below that temperature, so the whole thing will be perfectly, evenly, medium–rare. You can continue to cook it for hours and hours, and as it never goes above 45°C, it will never over-cook.

Because the food is vacuum-sealed, no moisture escapes during cooking, and the long cooking time and low temperature allows time for tough collagens to break down, resulting in incredibly tender and succulent meat.

The one drawback to sous vide is that, if you’re cooking meat, temperatures are too low for the Maillard reaction to occur, so you don’t get the flavour associated with browned meat. If cooking meat sous vide, before serving, sear the outside briefly at a very high temperature, being as quick as you can so the inside doesn’t cook any further.


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