GemLife, Recipes

Sous vide or not sous vide?

A cooking technique once limited to the pros, sous vide (pronounced sue-veed) is becoming increasingly popular among home cooks thanks to the availability of affordable sous vide equipment. GemLife Chef Matt Conquest shares the scoop on sous vide cooking so you can decide for yourself whether sous vide or not sous vide!

Matt spills on sous vide

Sous vide cooking is a technique using a precision water cooker. This process involves sealing and putting meat, protein or vegetables into a plastic food-safe and temperature-safe bag, adding seasoning and flavours, and then taking the air out of the bag and cooking it submerged in a water bath heat-controlled by a sous vide cooker.

Historically, the credit goes to two French chefs Bruno Goussault and George Pralus, who worked on sous vide individually before getting together to refine the cooking process.

When Goussault, who’s known as the “father of sous vide,” developed the technique in 1971, he was looking for a way to improve the tenderness of roast beef. Pralus, who has been called the other “father of sous vide,” discovered in 1974 that wrapping foie gras in cling wrap prevented the fatty liver from shrinking as it cooked. A few years later, the two chefs teamed up with Cryovac, a plastics manufacturer, and fine-tuned the sous vide technique. This cooking process was huge in the 1980s and 1990s before tapering off. But in the past 10 years it’s made a comeback and slow cooking meats, seafood and veggies has become popular with modern chefs and home cooks.

Sous vide cookers

The cooking process requires a sous vide cooker. The precision cooker has a digital display, a heating element and a water-circulating fan/ pump that precisely holds a set temperature.

There are several sous vide machines on the market, either online or in cooking stores, and domestic machine prices range from $120 to $300 depending on size.

The cook time and temperature vary by food. Beef cooks differently to pork as does duck, lamb, salmon, fish, prawns or eggs and even each cut of meat needs different cook times and temperatures.

Cooks can ‘hard sear’ their meat then use the sous vide, or you can do what I like to do and reverse sear it. This means seasoning and bagging your meat, then cooking with the sous vide, before searing it to finish. Butterflied leg of lamb works great for this.

There are so many options to try and enjoy and, as with any of your home cooking appliances, this is another great one to try new and different food ideas and cooking techniques.

There are a lot of useful guides online but as a starting point, below are the final internal temperatures of different meats.
Beef, tender cut57 degrees or higher, 1-inch thick for 1-4 hours, 2-inch thick for 3-6 hours
Beef, tough cut57 degrees or higher, chunk size/cut dependant, between 12-48 hours
Pork, tender cut57 degree or higher, 1-4 inches for 2-6 hours
Pork, belly2-inch cut, 75 degrees for 5-8 hours – 85 degrees 12-48 hours
Salmon/fish55 degrees, 1-inch piece for 20-30 minutes, 2-inch piece for 30-40 minutes
Root vegetables85 degrees, 1-inch for 2-4 hours
Sous vide takes a bit of research, understanding and practise to master, but is a great technique to add to your home cooking toolkit.