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Sous vide, also known as immersion cooking, involves cooking food at a closely controlled temperature by sealing it in a plastic bag and submerging it in a temperature-controlled water bath. Despite its name, sous vide doesn't necessarily require vacuum sealing; the main purpose is to shield the food from direct contact with the water. Common sealing alternatives include using zip-lock bags, making the technique more accessible to home cooks.

Traditionally, sous vide cooking was primarily found in high-end restaurants due to the cost of water ovens. However, with the advent of immersion cookers, the price has significantly dropped, making it affordable for home kitchens. Immersion cookers, which resemble stick blenders, come equipped with a pump, water heater, and thermostat in a compact unit that can easily fit into any large pot or container. They offer precise temperature control and convenient storage options, making them a popular choice among cooking enthusiasts. You can find various immersion cookers at different price points on platforms like Amazon.

The true value of sous vide cooking lies in its ability to control temperature rather than time. This is particularly advantageous for certain foods, like steak, where the desired level of doneness is achieved at specific temperatures. For instance, if you cook a steak to the ideal rare temperature using an immersion cooker and maintain that temperature, it will remain perfectly rare for hours or even days. However, since the surface of the meat doesn't develop a sear during the sous vide process, finishing the steak in a frying pan adds the desired char and Maillard flavors.

Restaurants often prefer using this method for steak, as it eliminates the need for precise timing and allows them to cook individual portions in advance, refrigerate, and finish them quickly upon order. The original immersion cooker temperature ensures that the steak remains at the desired level of doneness, reducing the risk of overcooking or undercooking. Many other foods with temperature-dependent rather than time-dependent cooking properties also benefit from sous vide.

Cooking Process

  1. Season the food and vacuum-seal it in a food-grade vacuum bag.
  2. Preheat the water bath to the desired cooking temperature using the sous vide circulator.
  3. Submerge the sealed bag in the water bath and cook for the specified time.
  4. Remove the bag from the water bath and pat the food dry.

Finishing and Searing


After sous vide cooking, you can give the meat or fish a perfect sear by using a hot skillet or grill for a minute on each side to develop a flavorful crust.

Floating bag


Certain foods are naturally buoyant, which can cause the sous vide bag to float. This situation is undesirable and potentially hazardous, since it may result in uneven cooking and failure to reach the intended temperature for proper food preparation. To counter this issue, it is advisable to utilize a sous vide weight, ensuring the bag remains fully submerged throughout the cooking process.