How To Master Sous Vide Cooking

Kitchen essentials come in all shapes and sizes and every single one of them can help you create unique dishes that can give your taste buds a reason to sing like a Broadway musical. One such appliance is a sous vide. A sous vide involves cooking in a vacuum-sealed bag. In fact, the very term sous vide is French for under-vacuum.

The beauty of cooking with a sous vide is that you can place all of your ingredients and seasonings in the vacuum bag and cook it in a water bath at a very precise temperature. By sealing all the ingredients in the bag, you are sealing in the flavor, and boy, do we love food with flavor.

Once you get the knack for using this magical piece of kitchen equipment, your food will not only taste mind-blowingly good, you’ll also have food that is tender and juicy. Here are 10 ways to be a boss at sous vide cooking so you can get really impress your dinner guests with meals they will swear have been made by a 5 star chef.

bags for sous vide

1. Choose The Right Sous Vide

When you think of a sous vide, most people think of the all in one type they see in various popular cooking shows. However, like many other kitchen appliances, there are a number of different styles you can choose from and they generally fall into the following categories;

Sous Vide Immersion Circulators – These are possibly the easiest sous vide options as they allow you to use pots you already have at home. These devices work by heating the water to your chosen temperature circulating water via a pump to keep the water at a constant temperature. Immersion Circulators are economical and practical because you can use them in any sized pot making it easy to prepare large and small meals.

Sous Vide Water Bath – This is essentially an all in one style of sous vide appliance. The temperature controller and water bath are all in one fully operational device. These are convenient because they are a complete unit, but you are limited. The size of your sous vide water bath will depend on the size of the meal you can cook.

There are also makeshift sous vide devices such as those that you can use with a beer or camping cooler or a slow cooker or crockpot. These are a great option if you’re not sure whether or not you are ready to commit to becoming a sous vide boss.

2. Start With The Basics

Start with something simple the first time you try cooking with a sous vide. Patience is the key, but most first time sous vide users don’t really have a lot of patience and are chomping at the bit to try cooking. Cook something that will only take a few minutes like soft boiled eggs or vegetables.

asparagus ready for sous vide

3. Try Your Hand With Different Proteins

It’s almost impossible to overcook meat in a sous vide because it essentially brings your meat to your selected temperature and keeps it there. Obviously, some meat should be kept in the sous vide for longer but these are usually light proteins such a fish.

4. You Can Still Have A Crispy Coating

Cooking with a sous vide is more about steaming the food in its own natural juices, but that doesn’t mean all of your food will look and taste steamed. You can cook a steak to perfection in the sous vide and finishing it off with a good searing in a cast iron pan.

sous vide meat preparation

5. Cook More Than One Thing At A Time

You can cook a couple of different meats and side dishes in a sous vide. Simply place them in separate vacuum or zip-lock bags and add them to the water at different intervals, depending on what you are making. Just make sure you also adjust the temperature depending on the food.

6. Learn The Different Temperatures

As convenient as sous vide cooking can be, you still need to look into the temperatures needed to cook each type of food. You can’t simply set it at one temperature and cook a 3 course meal. For example, meat will obviously need a higher temperature and longer cooking time than vegetables.

sous vide cooking

7. Preparation Is The Key To Success

You can cook a complete meal in a sous vide and it’s all in the preparation.  Make sure all of your food items are of a similar size and density and pack them in the bag in a single layer for consistent cooking.

8. Invest In A Vacuum Sealer

A vacuum sealer can help make cooking in a sous vide simpler as you it extracts the air from the bag and seals it completely. This also means you can prepare and seal several meals in advance and cook them as needed in the sous vide.

using a vacuum sealer

9. Use Water Displacement For Zip-Lock Bags

If you want to get rid of the air in a zip-lock bag, simply place your bag of food and seasoning in water holding a corner of the bag open. Gently squeeze out the rest of the air before completely sealing the bag. This method works if you don’t have a vacuum sealer and is great with a sous vide immersion circulator. You can also use an ordinary bag and clip it to the top of the pot using a bulldog or binder clip.

10. Don’t Forget Dessert

No exquisite meal can be considered complete unless you finish with a stunningly delicious dessert. You can make everything from the first course all the way to dessert in your sous vide. You can poach any type of fruit with mouthwatering herbs or spices or even make something delectably creamy like a crème brulee. For an extra gooey pie filling, make or buy your perfect crust and prepare the filling in the sous vide.

Once you master the art of sous vide temperature and timing, you’ll be preparing elaborate dinners with little or no effort. You’ll be a boss at sous vide cooking and you’ll never want to eat out again.