Sous vide cooking has been gaining in popularity in restaurants for a while now, and it’s also becoming pretty popular in home kitchens. With sous vide equipment available at affordable prices, barriers to entry into this fun cooking method are low. Sous vide machines have also become more fool-proof and convenient to use.
We’ll get into the pros and cons of sous vide cooking in a sec, but first a quick bit of background…
What Is Sous Vide Cooking?
Sous vide is a French term that means “under vacuum.” First, you vacuum seal the food to give it an airtight seal. To cook, allow it to go through a water bath with the prescribed temperature. The slow, gentle cooking process results in well cooked, melt-in-the mouth, and flavorful food. It’s no surprise that sous vide machines are becoming a common sight in home kitchens.
Low temperature sous vide cooking has certain benefits that are more difficult to achieve with conventional cooking techniques like grilling or frying.
Sous Vide Pros and Cons
- Sous vide cooking results in tasty and flavorful food. The slow and protracted cooking process allows you to cook pork shoulder, lamb belly, short ribs, and other tough cuts with deep flavors and a tender, uniform texture. You can also cook vegetables to get superior color, flavor, and texture. When you boil or steam vegetables, you tend to lose some of the flavors of the vegetables. Heating them in a slow manner allows you to preserve their rich flavors.
- It is pretty darn convenient. The cooking technique allows you to cook meat in advance without losing flavor and quality. You can cook meat about three or four days before you plan to serve it. You simply cook the food, and chill or freeze it right away. On the day you plan to serve the food, reheat the chilled or frozen meat, then serve.
- It’s a healthy way to cook. Some cooking methods tend to diminish or spoil the high-quality nutrients found in meat and vegetables. You are likely to weaken the delicate essential fats contained in meats by the aggressive action of high-temp cooking. You also lose a lot of the water-soluble vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in vegetables when you steam or boil them, and allow their nutrient-rich juices to evaporate. You may also break the cellular structure of vegetables when you cook them in high temperature. Sous vide cooking allows you to keep all the natural goodness of the food you cook in its airtight seal. The slow low-temp cooking preserves all the nutrients. Conventional cooking requires the use of oil or butter to protect meat from being scorched or burned on the hot metal cooking surface. Cooking in high heat allows oil to oxidize, and develop free radicals that are harmful to the body. Moreover, cooking food in oil or butter increases the amount of cholesterol in the food. It adds more calories to your meal. When you cook food via sous vide, you do not need oil or butter. The food hangs on the water, and comes out delicious and succulent.
- It is less convenient than some conventional cooking techniques. Sous vide cooking is slow and gradual. You cannot use the technique when you have to cook in a rush. It requires more time to cook food Sous vide style compared to the more convenient deep frying or sautéing, which are relatively faster.
- Sous vide cooking is not practical for certain types of food. You are likely to alter the flavor of some food when you cook them using the Sous vide method. The taste of fresh garlic tends to become too pronounced – and a bit overwhelming. Bay leaves leave a dusty and metallic taste in the mouth. You cannot cook with alcohol. You will not enjoy the wonderful fruity flavor of wine that you get with other conventional cooking techniques. Alcohol cannot evaporate from the tight seal of Sous vide. It retains the alcohol taste and makes food unpalatable. When cooking green vegetables, you have to do it fast before the chlorophyll degrades.
- The method requires special sous vide cooking equipment. For the sous vide technique to work, you have to control the temperature of the water bath. The temperature has to be precise to achieve uniform cooking and the desired level of doneness. You need the technology that only the right sous vide equipment can offer. Some sous vide equipment can be expensive.
- Sous vide may seem too scientific for some cooks. Most cooks look forward to cooking because of the pleasures that come with it. You smell, touch, and smell the food while you are cooking it – and get great pleasure from the sensory experience. Sous vide limits these pleasures. Some cooks may feel restricted when all they have to do is put food in an airtight container and submerge it in a water bath.