Sous vide is such an attractive cooking method because it takes away a lot of the guesswork. If you keep something in the sous vide cooker for a little bit too long, you don’t have to freak out that it’ll be overcooked – unlike, for example, a steak left in the pan for a few moments too long. Having said that, there are a few tips that will ensure you get the most out of your sous vide cooker.
Get the temperature and time right for that particular food
Every meat, fish, veg, fruit, etc. needs to be cooked at a different temperature and for a different amount of time. Also, the cooking time changes depending on how thick the food is that you’re cooking, so a thick, 5cm steak will need to stay in longer than a thin, 1.25cm steak.
Be careful not to overcook when you 'finish'
Finishing is a really important part of the cooking process for certain sous-vide meats and fish. But you must make sure to do it as fast as possible. If, for example, you’re searing a steak in some butter, make sure the pan is super, super hot before you even touch the steak to the pan. You want it in and out. Otherwise you may end up with the deadly grey band!
Don’t put too much juicy stuff in the bag
If you choose to add oil or a bit of butter into the bag with meat or fish, it’s recommended that you put in just enough to coat the food – many chefs only use oil or butter if they’ve put multiple pieces of meat or fish in one bag to stop them from sticking together. Often dry spices and fresh herbs work better to season sous vide meat or fish than wet marinades and pastes. But even they are not necessary. Lastly, when cooking red meat for long periods of time, many people choose not to season the meat with salt before cooking because the salt tends to brine.
Longer is not always better
You don't always get better results by keeping food in the sous vide machine for longer. For example, many chefs recommend that sous vide steak should not be cooked for longer than four hours because the connective tissue begins to break down and the steak can become mushy. If the recipe says to cook something for between one and four hours, it’s probably not recommended to cook it for 12. Be wary, too, that fish is very delicate and easy to overcook.
Have fun with it!
There are so many foods that can be cooked sous vide with great results. Most types of meat work well – including beef, pork, lamb, game and poultry. As does almost any kind of vegetable. Eggs cooked sous vide have a superior, uniform texture that you just can’t get with conventional methods. And fish, as long as it’s not overcooked, comes out beautifully moist. You can also make a custard-style ice cream base, béarnaise sauces, custards, cheese, yoghurt and certain types of cake. You can even do fruit!