What Does Sous Vide Mean?

bundle of assorted vegetable lot

What is sous vide?

Sous vide, pronounced soo-veed, is a French term meaning “under vacuum.” If you have a knack for all things cooking, there’s a relatively good chance that you’ve heard the term used before. But what does sous vide mean?

In short, sous vide is a new and innovative cooking technique that uses precise temperatures to cook food that is both consistent and delicious each and every time. The sous vide cooking method was once considered to be limited to professionals and high-end restaurants, however, in recent years the cooking technique has become relatively popular for at-home cooks, as well. Not only is the cooking method relatively simple once you’ve mastered it, but it is also affordable! The best part? There is little to no prep work involved with the sous vide cooking method, as the method works to retain food’s natural integrity and flavors.

How does the sous vide cooking method work?

So how exactly do the sous vide cooking method work? It’s the process of slow cooking food in a cooking vessel, typically an airtight vacuum-sealed bag, and cooking it low and slow in a water bath heated to a designated temperature. The sous vide technique is relatively simple, especially after you’ve done it a time or two. If the sous vide method is completely new to you, you can learn more about the process for cooking sous vide outlined below in 4 simple steps!

1. Prep the food

The first step in the sous vide cooking technique is completely optional, depending on the chef. As mentioned previously, little to no preparation is needed when it comes to the sous vide cooking method, as it works to use the food’s natural integrity to provide the flavor. However, if you would prefer to marinade, season, or tenderize your food before cooking, this would be the first step in the process. Any prep should be done prior to moving on to the next step in the process.

2. Vacuum seal food in an airtight bag

The next step is to properly vacuum seal your food in an airtight bag. This helps to ensure that the food is not only cooked thoroughly but also that it’s cooked consistently, as well. It’s during this step that you can add any aromatics desired to your dishes, such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, or bay leaves.

3. Cook low and slow to the desired temperature

After properly sealing your food in an airtight bag, you can begin the cooking process! Because so many different foods can be cooked using the sous vide method, it’s important to do some research into the desired temperature and cook time required for your dish. Many people who develop a knack for the sous vide cooking method also purchase an immersion circulator, which is a tool that helps to both set and regulate the temperature of the water in your cooking vessel.

4. Sear the food on a cast iron or grill (if desired)

After your food has been cooked at a low temperature for the amount of time required you also have the option to sear your food. Many cooks choose to sear their food after using the sous vide method, as the sous vide method doesn’t have any char or searing effects on the food while it’s being cooked. However, this step isn’t required by any means. Any type of searing is typically done on a grill or in a cast-iron skillet, and it helps to bring out more of the natural flavors of the dish as well as add a little char to it.

What foods can I make with the sous vide cooking technique?

Many people tend to think that the sous vide method is only used for cooking meats. However, that is far from the truth. The sous vide cooking technique can be used to cook just about anything and everything! That’s not to say it isn’t a great option for cooking meat, especially those that are typically tougher cuts, because it helps to break down the tendons and muscles within them. However, the sous vide method can also be used to cook any of the following:

  • Vegetables
  • Meats
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Fruits
  • Desserts
  • Cocktails
  • Grains

Is the sous vide cooking method difficult?

Although the sous vide method sounds like a difficult term, the term is the scariest part of this cooking technique. The truth is the sous vide cooking method is relatively simple once it’s properly learned and practiced a few times. No expensive cooking tools or equipment is required for the cooking method. It simply requires a large cooking vessel and some Ziploc-style bags to vacuum seal your food in. The only time-consuming factor involved in this cooking method is the actual amount of time that it takes to cook. The short answer is no. The sous vide cooking method isn’t difficult and can be considered a cooking method meant for anyone to try out!   

If you have a knack for cooking, it may be time to try out a new cooking method. The good news is, it’s never too late to learn something new, and you may even decide that the sous vide method is your new personal favorite!