Literally translating to ‘under the vacuum’ in French, sous vide is a cooking technique long hailed by culinary professionals as the holy grail of kitchen convenience.
Relatively simple to learn and use, it can eliminate any chance of overcooking or undercooking food while saving precious time in the kitchen.
How does it work?
Traditional cooking methods require a string of trial and error to get the temperature precisely right - remove it too soon or too late, and the taste may be compromised. Sous vide offers an ingenious solution through accurate temperature control by sealing the food and cooking it in water.
It eliminates the need for chefs to be on constant standby during the cooking process and guarantees consistent results.
What can I sous vide?
Anything! From common vegetables, steak, and eggs, sous vide does the job perfectly without any hitch.
How can I get started?
All you need is an immersion circulator, resealable bags and a large pot or container for basic sous vide cooking. Food needs to be prepped and seasoned before sealing it in the sous vide bags and immersing it into the water bath. Vacuum-sealed packs are preferred, but you can make do with normal resealable bags by using the water immersion technique - slowly immerse the packs into the water while releasing the pressure through the top.
The next step would be setting a cooking time and temperature - these two factors are crucial in determining the resulting flavour and texture. As a rule of thumb, food must be cooked long enough to reach their target temperature and eliminate bacteria.
Is sous vide right for my kitchen?
The answer really depends on the scale of your kitchen, customer flow, and complexity of the menu. The greater these are, the higher the possibility you should be looking into introducing sous vide cooking to the kitchen.
There are numerous benefits to sous vide - from achieving a final product that is both juicy and tender thanks to its high moisture retention, to impressive flexibility through a non-guided cooking process. Perfect for preserving your margins as well, sous vide retains all of the food’s moisture while conventional cooking methods may dry out the volume up to 40%.
Sous vide also helps your staff during busy service hours. The circulator slowly cooks your ingredients at a constant temperature to your preferred doneness, which makes it easier for your staff to just apply the finishing touches when an order comes in.
On the other hand, it also has received a fair share of criticism - particularly for people who enjoy the process of cooking. Cooking is often seen as a form of art and creative expressionism, and using a sous vide cooker simply takes away the joy and experience of making a gastronomic creation from scratch.
Arguably best for cooking meat, you can seriously consider adding this handy piece of equipment to your kitchen if your establishment offers a meat-heavy menu. With the advantage of drastically improving efficiency in the kitchen, chefs can utilise the additional time to focus on more pressing tasks without being chained to their work stations.
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