Is Sous Vide (sue-veed) Cooking for You?

By Chef Steve Perrone

Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, is a method of cooking where the food is vacuum sealed and cooked in a water bath at an accurately regulated temperature and time. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method.

Sous vide used to be done solely by professional chefs and high-end restaurants, using extremely expensive, large machines to cook big quantities of food to the exact level of doneness desired, every time. Now, between the exposure of sous vide cooking on the Food Network and the availability of affordable and easy-to-use sous vide precision cooking equipment, this style of cooking has been gaining popularity with home cooks. Although it may seem complicated, it is actually pretty simple and can be easily used to cook some of your favorite recipes at home, resulting in better flavor, less stress with a more consistent restaurant quality result.

Sous vide cooking has many other benefits as well. A big one being health

Most vegetables require at least some light cooking to make their nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. Let’s take asparagus for instance – at Perrone’s it is cooked at a high temperature (183°F) for a shorter time (10 minutes). Two things happen; the asparagus retains its snappy texture and enhances the natural sweetness of these stalks. Due to the enhanced flavors of sous vide food, no additional salt or fat is needed during cooking. Plus, vacuum sealing food actually retains more nutrients and vitamins. They are not lost during the cooking process like traditional boiling or steaming.

Cooking animal proteins, and in particular land-based ones (though fish contain collagen as well), breaks down collagen (the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues) into gelatin, which makes it easier for our body to absorb or digest.

Proper sous vide techniques also increase at-home food safety

While it is true that bacteria on food can be killed cooking at a high temperature, the low temperature inside a vacuum-sealed pouch allows for pasteurization of food. If you meet minimum cook times and cook above 131°F for red meat and 140°F for poultry, you are effectively pasteurizing your meat and killing off any potentially harmful bacteria.

Great taste and value

A New York strip cooked medium rare is 131°F degrees in the center. If you buy two prime steaks in the supermarket, about two inches thick, you’ll pay about $20 a pound. Then you fire up your nice grill, which is about 700°F degrees. By the time you get the center of your meat to medium rare, you’ve sacrificed the upper and lower third of the steak.  So, for $20 a pound, you’ve overcooked about two thirds of your meat. With sous vide, the entire two-inch steak is cooked to 131°F. Then the steak hits a hot cast iron pan for a nice 1/8-inch crust. It’s much more bang for your buck. The meat has a better chew and anything you cook in the bag intensifies flavor, giving you a life changing steak experience!

About this writer

  • Chef Steve Perrone

    Chef Steve Perrone

    Chef Steve Perrone and his wife, Eileen, own Perrone’s Restaurant in Pawleys Island. This humble man finds it uncomfortable to talk about himself and his talent but is known locally as “the food whisperer.” Steve is a self-taught chef who has fueled his culinary journey with passion, perseverance and a profound understanding of flavors. He’s a bit of a maverick, who fears no one or nothing (except clowns), especially when it comes to food.

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