Competition is fierce in the food service industry. To gain an edge over your rivals, you need to focus on fulfilling popular eating trends and finding ways to be faster, fresher, and more flavorful than the competition. One great option is cooking sous vide– an easy way to meet the needs of evolving American eating habits that demand fresher, faster food.
If you’re new to sous vide, it’s natural to wonder exactly what sous vide is and how it works.
Sous vide may be the latest (and greatest) trend in modernist culinary science, but it’s a lot easier than its fancy name suggests. Cooking sous vide is, in fact, pretty straightforward.
The French term-- which literally translates as "under vacuum"-- itself offers an explanation of how this cooking method works.
Meat or vegetables are vacuum sealed in a food grade cooking bag with a minimal amount of spices or other flavor enhancers and then submerged in a water bath, combi oven or cooker that can be set to a specific target temperature. When the food reaches the target temperature – voila! – it is melt-in-your mouth tender and perfectly cooked.
Sous vide is an especially effective technique for ensuring that finicky meats and seafood are never over cooked.
When you fry a piece of fish, for example, there’s a very narrow temperature range at which the fish is tender and succulent-- neither too soggy nor overly dry. In order to fully cook the fish, however, most chefs need to use a pan that ends up being hotter than the ideal core temperature. As a result, pan frying means that it is nearly impossible to achieve the same temperature and texture throughout the entire fish.
Sous Vide Cooking Brings Mastery Over Heat
Cooking sous vide style means you have full mastery over heat.
While the name itself is actually a reference to the style of cooking, mastering of heat is also a defining feature of sous vide.
A computer-controlled heater warms the water bath to any low temperature that you set. The heater will then keep the water bath at this temperature for hours, over night, or as long as is needed. Mastering the heat pays off in many different ways.
Sous vide allows you to escape the tyranny of the clock.
Traditional cooking on the high heat of a grill or oven, even with top of the line appliances and tools, means fluctuating temperatures, so it takes a skillful chef to create an evenly cooked meal as there’s virtually no room for error. All it takes are a few moments of inattention for conventional cooking to quickly overshoot, resulting in tough and overcooked meat.
With sous vide, however, meat is tender and succulent even if it spends a few extra minutes longer in the target temperature bath.
Food is cooked to an even doneness all the way through, eliminating dry edges and rare centers. Most importantly, the food results are consistent each time: you can rest assured that your steak will emerge from its water bath cooked to a tender, pink juicy perfection time and time again.
In a competitive food service industry where over-cooked meat means wasted food and slower service, a guaranteed end result is a tremendous value-add for restaurants. It's also a great way to satisfy American eating habits that demand fresh, quality food that's perfectly produced.
From a food preparation stand point, preparing food in plastic bags made expressly for sous vide is just as safe as using zip-top bags, oven bags and plastic wrap. These products are made from polyethylene, that does not leach like the plastic found in cheaper bags made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Sous Vide is the Future of Culinary Innovation
American eating habits are evolving to demand fresher, higher quality meals that are cooked to perfection each time. Sous vide cooking is an exciting technique that helps ensure near perfect results time and time again.