The Four Basic Steps Of Sous Vide Cooking

You may have heard us talking about sous vide before. Truth be told, it's an ultra-reliable method for cooking all sorts of meats, fish, poultry and veggies. Our friends at ChefSteps frequently provide us with recipes using this surprisingly easy technique, and we wonder why it isn't utilized more often in home kitchens.

Just getting started with sous vide cooking? Here is an overview of the process, broken down into four steps. We begin by prepping the food, then move on to packaging it. Next, we determine the best temperature and cooking time to use to achieve the results we want. When the food is cooked, we finish it for serving — often by giving it a golden-brown sear — or store it safely for future use. Below are the basic steps for getting started, along with a brief video depicting an overview of the process.

  • Prep food.
  • We prepare food for sous vide much the same way we do for any other cooking method, but there are some important tips and tricks that will make preparation easier. They include oiling up the food, holding off on slicing, avoiding overcrowding, keeping things moving, lowering the temperature and pressing as you chill.

    1. Package.
    2. Packaging food usually involves sealing ingredients in food-grade plastic bags and removing the air. But sometimes the best way to cook foods sous vide is with no packaging at all. Eggs, for example, come handily packed in their own shells. We have been known to prepare foods such as custards and pâtés in sealable glass jars.

      1. Cook at desired time and temperature.
      2. The first question we ask when cooking sous vide is: What doneness do I prefer? Then we can select the corresponding time and temperature to achieve it. Check out ChefSteps' handy time and temperature guide, a good reference to keep on hand so that you can quickly determine the exact settings you need to cook food exactly how you want it. Once you've tried cooking sous vide a few times, you'll start to develop preferences for doneness and convenience, and it only gets easier — and more fun — from there.

        1. Finish.
        2. Once your food has been cooked sous vide, the final step is finishing. Sometimes this can mean portioning, repacking and preserving cooked food to use later. If serving immediately, we usually quickly sear meats and seafood to crisp the skin and develop the flavor.

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