What is sous vide?
Sous vide (say “soo-veed”, French for "under vacuum") is a cooking method that uses a precise temperature and a precise time to cook food in water baths or temperature-controlled equipment. Requiring specially designed bags and a vacuum sealer, sous vide can also be used to preserve or marinate food. This cooking technique is a trend among modern home cooks, and is often used by chefs.
Benefits of sous vide cooking
Sous vide cooking ensures that food is cooked at a constant temperature — ranging from 50 to 85 deg C — for a specific period of time that helps achieve and maintain consistent quality, as well as retain nutrients in food.
Juices, sauces and aroma are all kept intact as compared to conventional cooking, such as roasting or grilling, where food is cooked over higher heat levels than necessary.
Sous vide cooking allows the ingredients to retain its natural flavours as well. The process also doesn't require constant supervision.
Types of sous vide equipment
Vacuum sealer and bags
Before fully immersing yourself in the world of sous vide cooking (pun intended), you need a vacuum sealer and specially made bags to cook your food in. Some home chefs opt for ziplock bags, but these might not be as safe as sous vide bags, which have a layer of nylon to ensure that the plastic does not contaminate your food.
These heat and circulate water to maintain precise temperatures and can be clipped onto any pot. They are specially designed for home cooks and can be used when cooking small or large amounts of food, depending on the size of your pot.
Most commonly used in professional kitchens, these are fully contained countertop sous vide devices. About the size of a small microwave oven, they include a combined heating vessel, and operate through thermal convection and do not need water circulation. They are, however, bulkier and more expensive.
Combination ovens (convection and steam oven)
Combi-steamers are a combination of convection and steam ovens. Using the steam function, it can maintain precise temperatures and cook with the use of a plastic vacuum bag, in a similar way to a water bath.
Though still relatively new in the market, Anova has been gaining traction among home cooks for its sous vide immersion circulators. This affordable and convenient machine even won the 2016 Best Cooking Gadget of the Year award. Thanks to its adjustable clamp, you can easily alter serving sizes just by changing the size of your pot. You can also control the temperature and starting cooking time with your phone using their Precision Cooker Wi-Fi system that is available on Google Play and Apple's App store.
The Anova Precision Cooker, from $219, is available at http://sg.anovaculinary.com.
Gaggenau has ventured into the world of sous vide with the launch of its 400 Series combi-steam oven and vacuuming drawer. The handleless drawer offers a quick sealing solution with intuitive touch-control technology that provides three levels of oxygen extraction and heat sealing for vacuum bags. This can be integrated with the Gaggenau combi-steam oven, which has functions tha tensure highly accurate temperature regulation. Plus, the automatic cleaning system makes cleaning up a breeze!
The Gaggenau vacuum drawer cost $4,500 and the steam combination oven is priced at $12,900. Both is available at the Gaggenau Experience Centre, #04-01, 11 Bishan Street 21.
Sous vide cooking is no longer confined to professional kitchens. To cope with the increasing demand for convenient quality food, Miele has launched a vacuum-sealing drawer to match its Generation 6000 built-in appliances. The 14cm-tall vacuum chamber is nearly invisible unless opened, and comes with three settings depending on the thickness of your bag. All Miele steam ovens cover a temperature range from 45 to 90 deg C.
The Miele built-in vacuum drawer retails at $3,990 and the Miele steam combination oven XL retails at $10,500. Find them at Miele Singapore, #04-03 Winsland House II, 163 Penang Road. Call 6735-1191 for more information.
4. Sousvide Supreme
Sousvide Supreme has been offering authentic sous vide experiences for home chefs since 2009. The sousvide Supreme water oven is an all-in-one appliance that can achieve precise temperatures with the touch of a button. It has won awards — including the Housewares Design Award for Best in Category — and received positive reviews, thats to its simple designs that still provides quality results. It also has vacuum pouches — in two sizes — that can be used with its VS3000 sealer.
The Sousvide Supreme water oven, priced from USD$329 (S$467) for a Demi water oven, USD$129 for the vacuum sealer, and from USD$10.99 for a packet of small vacuum seal pouches. Visit www.sousvidesupreme.com for more information.