I have had an Anova Precision Cooker for a few months now, and I have fallen in love with foods cooked sous vide. The texture achieved, simplicity and reliability have made it a fantastic addition to my kitchen which I love to experiment with.
So what exactly is sous vide? Sous Vide (soo-veed) is French for “under vacuum” and is a method of cooking where vacuum-sealed food is placed in a water bath and cooked at precise, consistent temperature. This sounds complex but cooking sous vide is as simple as putting a steak into a zip-top bag and placing it into a pot of water with a thermometer attached.
The temperature of the water bath is what determines the doneness of your food, meaning you can cook a steak to the literal perfect degree consistently every time. In the world of sous-vide, a steak is not just “medium-rare” but can be anywhere from 55 to 60°C, whatever your preference. This technique means food is cooked evenly throughout Moreover, because the food is cooked to but never beyond the specified temperature, it is always cooked evenly throughout and can be held at this temperature ready-to-eat with no change in the final result.
The process of sealing food, heating to a specific temperature, cooling and then storing at refrigerated temperatures effectively pasteurizes the food and can extend the shelf life up to 90 days. The sous vide technique has been used since the 1960’s to seal and pasteurize industrial foods for longer shelf life, where two Swedish hospitals were using sous vide to test reheating foods. In 1974, Chef Georges Pralus adopted this method when looking to minimize shrinkage of foie gras. Although Pralus is considered the creator of sous vide, Bruno Goussalt was the scientific mind behind the research on different temperatures effects on foods, and for training many Michelin star chefs in the use of sous vide. Since, many French chefs have used sous vide in their restaurants, secretly, as until recently it has been considered a technique only to be used by chains and factories.
Now as more chefs are beginning to understand the science of cooking sous vide, creativity is blossoming. Cooks use sous vide to prepare and manipulate ingredients, like making compressed fruits, ice cream, infused oils, and to slowly cook proteins. Vegetables are able to taste more like themselves – carrots cook in their own juices, intensifying the carrot-flavour.
“sous-vide cooking is the single greatest advancement in cooking technology in decades.” – Chef Heston Blumenthal
More importantly, sous vide allows for control and consistency. No longer is a cook concerned with making sure each order is cooked perfectly, all one has to do when an order comes in is drop the protein into the water bath to reheat before hitting it with a quick sear in a hot pan – or my favourite technique, with a blow torch.