If you’ve ever watched Bravo's Top Chef, you’ve likely seen the sous vide method of cooking in action. There’s a reason why professional chefs all over the world rely on this European method when the aim is precision cooking: sous vide ensures that food is prepared to optimal “doneness” with no sacrifice of flavor, juiciness or nutrition. And while sous vide may have once been the exclusive domain of trained master chefs, it is now making its way to fast food, industrial and home kitchens, where enterprising chefs are making the most of this precision technique. Let’s take a closer look at the sous vide trend and what it means for you.
The 411 on Sous Vide
Way back in 2010, Time Magazine declared sous vide (“sue VEED”) to be “the edge of culinary innovation.” Since then, this technique has continued its evolution into a foodie favorite. Despite all the buzz, are you still wondering what sous vide involves and whether it’s within your reach?
Literally translating to “under vacuum” in French, sous vide is a process through which foods are packaged, vacuum sealed and cooked at low temperatures in a water bath. Contrary to popular misconception, the defining feature of sous vide is not its plastic bag packaging, but rather the precise control over temperature that it affords chefs. The result? A perfectly cooked meal every time.
And while most people think of tough cuts of beef or pork when they think of this method, sous vide recipes are also incredibly diverse, including everything from seafood to steel-cut oatmeal.
The Benefits of Sous Vide for Busy Home Cooks
While restaurant kitchens are notoriously chaotic, busy, results-minded home chefs also face their fair share of time constraints. Sous vide offers a convenient alternative to laboring over a hot stove in order to serve up delicious, restaurant-quality meals which maximize everything from tenderness and moistness to aroma and flavor.
Not only does sous vide offer an alternative to long hours of prep time, but it also affords unprecedented control and accuracy while removing all of the guesswork from the equation. Home chefs who may struggle with over- or undercooking delicate fish, steak and other complex proteins can stop worrying about whether they’ll end up with a perfectly cooked fillet or an under- or over-cooked mess. Ready-to-eat sous vide meals are cooked with pinpoint accuracy every time—results that might be impossible (or at least incredibly challenging) for a home cook to achieve. This also frees them to focus on the creative aspects of bringing their culinary vision to life with that finishing touch.
Sous Vide and Millennials
Meanwhile, for the world’s 75 million, can do-minded Millennials, sous vide offers even greater appeal. Not only does this generation want home-cooked meals more frequently than their predecessors, but they're also more focused on learning new skills and creating unique experiences. This means embracing new concepts not only regarding what to cook, but also how to cook it. One recent report from Google on Millennial cooking trends reveals that “the most important part of cooking is adding a personal touch to make a recipe unique,” making sous vide an intriguing and irresistible approach for those interested in pushing the boundaries without investing a huge amount of time or effort.
One Huffington Post writer goes so far as to describe sous vide cooking as “a poetic affair.” In fact, for home chefs aiming to gain an easy-yet-expert epicurean edge, sous vide represents far more than a trend. Rather, this technique is the ultimate cooking “hack": a simple and savory solution to the challenges of time and taste faced by today’s restaurants and home chefs alike.