Hi, I’m Abby, and my husband is James. I operate a food blog, and he has a meat distribution business. Together, we love food, ingredients, kitchen equipment, and every cooking method there is.
I have always loved cooking, but in my teenage years, I did not really know if I wanted to make a career out of it. I loved to experiment with different methods of cooking but without hi-tech equipment.
I remember being fascinated by sous vide and using an ice cooler as improvised pot. I also didn’t have a vacuum-sealer and used instead of the water displacement trick as an alternative. This is my sous vide story.
I saw sous vide on TV, and mostly, it is a cooking method where food is placed in food bags, dunked under water with perfectly controlled temperature and time, and when it’s done, the food is beautifully cooked and flavored.
Different foods, same benefits
Food is cooked so tender
Steaks and ribs are my favorite. I like to prepare short ribs braised for about 70 hours, at 136 degrees Fahrenheit. Another favorite is the beef sirloin steak tips, cooked for an hour at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. They literally just melt in your mouth.
Food is not directly placed under or over a fire but is cooked by the temperature of the water. Since the whole bag of food is submerged under water, it is cooked to be so tender, but not dry or flavorless.
Food is cooked evenly
All sides of the food is thoroughly cooked, with no side undercooked or the other side overcooked, which is a more common mistake when each side gets a turn on the grill or in the frying pan.
I like to put in shrimps or lobster tails inside a bag, add butter to it, and dip it into the sous vide bath. They will come out beautiful, moist, firm and very flavorful.
Food is flavorful
With the meats, I put in a dry rub or sometimes a marinade inside the bag itself, so as they slowly cook, the flavor seeps into the surfaces of the meat.
If you think sous vide is only for meats and chicken, you are so wrong. I like my carrots cooked the sous vide way, too. I put them inside the bag, stew them in their own juices at 183 degrees Fahrenheit, and they come out so tender yet crispy. I then give it a quick toss in the frying pan for the juices to be reduced to a glaze for more flavor.
Different tools, different stories
I didn’t start with my beautiful Anova, and Joule, or with my good FoodSaver sealer. I started as a teenager just grabbing anything in the kitchen.
What to do if you don’t have vacuum-sealer?
It is essential to remove the air from the bag since it affects the cooking time and the temperature. The best way to do it is using a vacuum-sealer, like the FoodSaver that I have now.
You put the bag inside a food bag with its marinade or with spices and dry rub. Vacuum-seal the bag to remove the air. With a proper vacuum sealer, this step is done fast and efficiently.
If you don’t have a vacuum-sealer, like me years ago, do what I did:
- I got a zipper-lock freezer bag, put the foods inside, and then put the bag in a pot with water, making sure the open top does not get submerged.
- I used my hands under water holding the bag and pushing out the water slowly.
- I submerged the bag lower into the water, leaving only the top not overwhelmed, and when I couldn’t go any lower, and I’ve pushed out the air enough, I closed the zipper top.
This water displacement method may not be perfect but it is enough to get the sous vide done.
Use the immersion circulator
This is one equipment you really need to have. Put it inside the tub or pot.
It is the tool that heats the water, and where you set it at a specific temperature, for a precise length of time.
Options for containers
- You can get a water oven with a tub of its own but it takes up much space compared to a wand-type circulator.
- Or you can use any old stock pot as long as it is deep enough to hold water.
- Use a plastic container specifically for sous vide cooking, like a Rubbermaid plastic container that can be big enough for large family cooking.
If you are using an immersion circulator, try if you can clip it on the sides of your container. Otherwise, you would have to hold on to it for a long time. The best container would be the Rubbermaid that comes in two different sizes. It has provision to hold up the immersion circulator.
My favorite sous-vide tips:
Over the years, I have discovered a few hacks and tips, and I would like to share this with you:
- If you are using a dry rub of spices, put a little olive oil inside the bag so the meats will not eat into the plastic.
- After sous vide cooking, you can put the meat on the grill or a frying pan very quickly to give it some color. Straight from sous vide, it will look unappetizing in its gray-brown color.
- It is okay to use a big container, but the bigger it is, the longer time it will take the water to its desired temperature, so if you cook for just a small family of 5, you can get a small sized container instead.
- I use hot water from the faucet instead of cold, that way I reach the desired hot temperature faster.
Sous vide is not complicated at all. You don’t even need to say it right as the French do to learn how to do it.
I personally like doing sous vide because it is easy – put in a bag, vacuum seal, swim, set the temperature and time, and that is it. It does not take much effort, and while it is cooking (as it can take hours), I don’t even need to be there to check if it is overcooked. I can do other tasks while cooking.
Eventually, I also discovered Joule and an efficient app that alerts me on my phone when my sous vide are done.
Now, I do sous vide in our restaurant, and I still do it at home for my family. Different equipment and tools, different types of food, but all end up being delicious and juicy, enjoyed by everyone – family and customers alike.