Sous vide is a style or technique of cooking that seals food in a vacuum bag, later the bag is placed into a warm or hot water bath. The water bath then cooks the food for a specific period of time. A medium rare temperature of about 130 degrees from the edge to the center is encouraged when using this technique, or the level of doneness that you may find suitable. This can be achieved by setting an immersion circulator to the exact temperature that you wish to achieve.
Tips for sous vide success.
- Cover the water bath with either a lid designed for the container with a cut out for the sous vide electronics. It is important to cover the sous vide machine with a plastic wrap making the condensate to return to the water preventing loss from evaporation and damage of the sous vide machine.
- It should take under 15 minutes for the water bath to heat up to most cooking temperatures.
- Select carefully the herbs and seasonings that you use in the vacuum bag during sous vide. Certain herbs will overpower the flavor of the food if left too long in the bag. Fresh herbs like onion, garlic and thyme can change the taste, therefore using dried herbs seem better in the cooking process.
- The vacuum seal must be tight with no air spaces between the food being prepared and the plastic bag. Air spaces can result to uneven cooking
- Place the container you will use for sous vide on an insulated pad in order to protect the countertop. While most countertops can handle intense heat, some will discolor like wood or marble. Therefore it is best to protect it.
- Ensure that the bag stays immersed in water. If the vacuum bag pops up, it means either there is an air space in the bag or the food is lightweight. Adding a food safe weight to the corner of the bag prior to sealing is recommended.
- Quickly sear meats before the vacuum sealing for that extra flavor. Do not pre-sear fish or delicate foods.
- If the meat has been pre-seared, place it in the vacuum bag and immerse the bag into an ice water bath to bring the temperature down to 38 degrees before sealing it.
- Before sealing the vacuum bag, place it in the freezer to set the juices for 5-10 minutes.
- Make sure the food is fresh, high quality and thoroughly cleaned to minimize the risk of bacteria and botulism.
- For soft fleshy foods such as fish, do not over vacuum.
- When cooking meat, cook the protein at 120 degrees for 8 hours then raise the temperature to the desired level for the rest of the cooking time.
- Each protein has a different cooking time but it should not be more than 36 hours.
The key to a sous vide success is observing the times and temperatures. The time it takes for a given portion of food to come to the desired temperature from edge to edge depends on the thickness of the portion and not the total weight.