Cooking eggs and meats to perfection is now within reach, thanks to innovative sous vide machines. But without the proper know-how, it is easy to fail even with the best immersion circulator. Sous vide cooking, after all, is a process with tips and tricks in between. Here’s how you can pull it off like a pro from start to finish.
Sous Vide Cooking Steps
If you’ve been itching to try those delicious sous vide recipes but don’t know where to start, then this guide might help. Follow these steps for smooth-sailing sous vide experience without wasting time, effort or ingredients!
1. Assemble Your Sous Vide Cooker
The first thing you have to do is to prepare your precision cooker setup. Aside from your immersion circulator, you will also need a heat-proof plastic container or large stockpot and sealable plastic bags. It will be best if you use a food vacuum sealer for sous vide cooking. However, any resealable or freezer bag with the right size will do.
Next, clip your sous vide cooker onto your pot of water. Fill it based on the water level limit. Cold tap water is fine, but hot water will heat up much faster. Then, follow your manual on how to set your equipment at the proper target temperature. Make sure to secure your immersion cooker to avoid submerging it in water.
2. Prepare and Season Your Food
For unevenly shaped fruit or vegetable, it’s best to cut them in uniform size and thickness. A mandolin, in this case, should come in handy. This extra prep step ensures that everything cooks at the same time. If you’re using a vacuum sealer, you might want to read this guide on preparing and sealing fresh produce, too.
Also, you can throw in a bit of spice for fruits or oil for vegetables to add more flavour. Just make sure not to put in a lot of wet ingredients that can affect the sealing process. Apply the same technique when sous vide cooking meat. Salt and pepper will suffice, but coating it with your favourite spice rub or adding aromatics is better.
3. Seal Your Food in the Bag
Here are a few tips on how to seal your food the right way when sous vide cooking:
- Pack your food in portions or a single layer. This tip ensures even cooking. Ideally, beginners should seal meats individually while they are still learning how their sous vide cooker works. If you’re doing sous vide as part of your meal prep routine, portioning makes it easier to thaw and reheat your food later as well.
- Use the smooth side of the bag for better food presentation. Some vacuum bags have a textured side that can leave marks or imprints on your food. Positioning your food’s presentation side will not affect its taste in any way. But it will make dinner extra appetising for sure!
- Keep aromatics in direct contact with your food. After sliding your food inside the bag, put your aromatics like whole herbs, lemon slices or chillies on top.
- Eliminate as much air as possible when sealing. Press out as much air to prevent your sealed bag from floating. This problem often happens when sous vide cooking vegetables. If your sous vide bag floats, clip it on the edge of your pot or container of water. Another option is to vacuum seal pie weights, ball bearings, glass marbles or spare change. Then use an alligator clip to attach your sealed weights to your cooking bag.
Check out this article for more helpful tips on sealing food with a vacuum sealer machine.
4. Start Sous Vide Cooking
Now, for the fun part, lower your sealed bag into the heated water bath, set the proper cooking time, then walk away! The beauty of sous vide is that the machine can do most of the work without you keeping a close watch.
If you’re a sous vide newbie, however, I recommend being a little more observant. Time and temperature are essential to successful sous vide cooking. So, make sure to note how these affect your food, then adjust if necessary to achieve your desired doneness. Also, while sous vide is more forgiving to cooking time, try not to overdo it to preserve your food’s quality and texture.
5. Store or Finish Cooking Your Food
After cooking, use silicone or rubber-tipped tongs to remove the bag. Let it rest for up to 20 minutes, then plate and serve as is. Alternatively, you can also submerge the vacuum-sealed bag in ice water to quickly cool it. Then label and store it in the fridge (up to 7 days) or freezer (up to a year).
For proteins like chicken, steak or pork belly, giving them a quick sear before serving will enhance their colour and flavour. So, after taking the protein out of the bag, pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Then brown it on a hot skillet with a bit of oil for a minute or two on each side. You can also grill or broil your meat if you want or use a propane torch. Deep-frying sous vide French fries is also a must-try!
Are you still wondering if this cooking process is for you? My sous vide buying guide and reviews might help you decide.