Sous Vide Tips & Tricks
Tips on cooking with a Sous Vide Machine
- Make sure you have the water bath covered:
Most people use either a custom made lid or a plastic wrap to cover the water bath and stop the vapor from reaching the electronics and lowering the level of water. Water evaporates fast on high temperature and as the vapor rises up it gets cooled by the air. The electronic part of the sous vide machine will catch the vapor and the air will cool it and cause condensation into water. This can be harmful for the machine and will also lower the water level in the pot. Lower water level can result in a unevenly cooked food. Covered water bath will be insurance that the vapor will catch on the lid or the plastic cover and as it gets cooled the water will get back in the pot.
- Make sure the vacuum seal is tight and check for existing air pockets inside:
Air pockets can cause the food to be unevenly cooked and not having the consistency of the texture and the taste that is sous vide known for. Always make sure all the air is being sucked out of the bag to always have perfectly tender food that is sous vide known for.
- Make sure there is enough water in the pot and the bag is immersed all the time:
Having an air pocket in the sealed bag will result in the bag getting to the surface and always having one side outside. The trick behind sous vide as a technique is the constant temperate. It doesn’t mean that the temperature is very high. It can be a very long cooking process on mediate temperature. To achieve this constant temperature the food needs to be fully submerged.
- Carefully select the seasonings and additions that you use in the bag:
Certain herbs will overpower the flavor and even taste rancid if left too long in the bag with the meat and veggies. Garlic, black pepper that has been pre-seared with the meat, cumin, and other strong spices and herbs will intensify the flavor in the bag. Fresh herbs like thyme, garlic, onion can change taste so cut back on your initial flavoring. Dried herbs seem to do better in the cooking process than fresh ones do.
- Quickly sear meats prior to vacuum sealing.
I’ve had many people say this is not necessary and others say this is wrong. Well, if you want to add extraordinary flavor to beef, pork, game, bison, elk, et al., then season and sear prior to sous vide. The maillard reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars created by searing drives those caramelized flavors deep into the meat as it slowly cooks in the sous vide. Is this required for sous vide? No, it’s not and truthfully, many restaurants don’t do it because it adds additional steps to the preparation process and many restaurants won’t take the time. They will simply sous vide the seasoned meat and sear it after removal from the water bath. If you want to be a food hero for your family and guests, take the extra step, it’s worth the flavor difference.