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Sous Vide - Perfect Cooking

What was once the domain of the professional chef, sous vide, is now accessible for the home cook. We look at the many advantages of this remarkable cooking technique.

In the early 1970s, French scientist Bruno Goussault developed the most significant advancement in the recent evolution of cooking – he called it sous vide. Literally defined as ‘under vacuum’, it should really be called precision controlled cooking, because that is far more ‘precise’. Basically defined, sous vide is sealing an item of food in a plastic vacuum pouch and then submerging it in a water bath so it can be cooked gently and slowly at a precise temperature.

It is a technique used by some of the world’s best contemporary chefs, including Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, Joel Roubuchon and many more. If you’ve ever wondered how the chef at your favourite hatted restaurant manages to get your steak cooked perfectly through, but still maintain its moisture, how the vegetables not only look vibrant and colourful, but also taste crisp and flavoursome, chances are it has been cooked sous vide.

Up until recently, it was only the domain of the professional chef. But advances in technology and the more affordable cost of equipment have made sous vide cooking accessible to the home cook. Those who try it, swear it is the best way to cook food perfectly and to get the best flavour and texture – all that combined makes a compelling argument for sous vide cooking.

The process is fairly simple – plan well ahead, use great ingredients, vacuum seal, cook using the Sous Vide water bath and cool  gently. That’s it. The secret to some of most delicious recipes from the world’s greatest chefs is within your grasp.

Conventional Cooking Vs Sous Vide

One of the most common problems with conventional cooking is under/over cooking food. This is because most recipes deal in approximates, such as cook on high/medium/low for approximately 10 minutes. Anyone who has baked knows the importance of baking at a precise temperature for an exact period of time. Sous vide cooking allows you to cook everything from beef, pork and fish to eggs, fruit and vegetables as if you were baking a cake.

Conventional cooking regularly results in food being inconsistent. For instance, cooking in boiling water or a hot oven cooks food at a high temperature, so that by the time the centre of the food achieves the proper temperature, the outside is overcooked. If you don’t get the timing exactly right, meat ends up dry, vegetables end up mushy. But sous vide cooking allows precise control, so not only does food keep better texture, it also retains greater flavour.

Because sous vide cooking is at lower temperatures, the cooking method is usually quite long, simple, but long. This has opened up new frontiers in the culinary world. Secondary cuts that were braised can now be cooked sous vide for longer periods at lower temperatures, and the results are simply astounding.

Equipment

To sous vide, you need two important devices, but just two basic steps. First you need a vacuum-packing machine to seal the food tightly in a plastic bag. Then you immerse the bag in a water bath heated exactly to the optimal cooking temperature. The vacuum-packed bag hugs the food, protecting it from contact with the water while transferring the heat from the hot water. The Sous Vide bath is regulated to heat the water and maintain the exact temperature throughout the bath and the cooking process.

Time to sous vide

This equipment was once the domain of commercial kitchen suppliers, was expensive, and took up loads of room. The great news is that Home Sous Vide is importing home kitchen versions of the industrial kit at very reasonable prices.

What’s more, the process is fairly simple – plan well ahead, use great ingredients, vacuum seal, cook using the Sous Vide water bath and cool gently. That’s it. The secret to some of most delicious recipes from the world’s greatest chefs is within your grasp.

And speaking of recipes – there has been an influx of fantastic recipe books  offering easy to achieve recipes for the novice through to the professional.

For more details on the wonders of Sous Vide cooking, recipes, tips and Sous Vide cooking products, visit homesousvide.com.au

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