The Sous Vide cooking method is quite simple. Food is prepped, packaged, cooked and then either chilled or finished. This technique achieves extraordinary culinary results with minimal training and effort. Throughout the cooking process there are some best practices to follow that will help enhance the quality and safety of the finished product.
Be mindful of seasoning
With regard to animal proteins, it’s important to consider your service period when seasoning foods with salt prior to cooking sous vide.
– If you’re going to cook your product and chill it after Sous Vide for service later, seasoning beforehand may create a firmer “hammy” texture.
– If you plan to serve or consume the product immediately after cooking, go ahead and season it with salt before vacuum sealing.
– Fats, herbs, and spices are often fine to join the party at any stage in the process.
For many proteins, it’s advisable to pre and post sear when cooking sous vide. Pre-searing has 3 key benefits.
– It pasteurizes surface bacteria
– It begins Maillard flavor and aroma development
– It sets the shape of foods
Post-searing re-crisps the exterior after softening in the sous vide bag.
Chill before vacuum sealing
It’s critical to chill the food to a core temp of 41ºF / 5ºC before vacuum sealing, even if you have not pre-seared. This will prevent the fluid trapped in the cellular structure of the food from boiling under vacuum. If this fluid is allowed to boil, it will rupture the cell walls resulting in food with an unpleasant & mealy texture.
Cook at multiple temperatures
This sous vide technique can be used across many proteins. With fish however, it really shines. Because we typically do not pre-sear fish (although you may), a quick blanch at 84ºC before cooking in a core temperature bath will benefit the end product.
– The 84ºC bath will pasteurize surface bacteria.
– It will also create textural contrast from exterior to core, creating a far more texturally pleasing product.