What is Sous Vide?

Pralus - sousvidechef.co.nzSous vide literally translates from French as ‘under vacuum.’ It was developed in France in the early 1970s when George Pralus and a food scientist joined forces to devise the perfect method for producing foie gras. After numerous experiments the best method proved to be sealing the food in a pouch under vacuum before cooking it very slowly at a controlled temperature.

Sous-vide today uses a water bath to accurately cook the vacuum packed item at a precise temperature. This creates enhanced texture and taste and means that meats such as beef emerge tender enough to be cut with a fork. This process results in minimal shrinkage, with greater yield.  Wastage is reduced through accurate portion control at regen stage. This is why so many acclaimed chefs worldwide, including many with coveted Michelin stars use sous vide equipment.

Direct or Indirect Cooking

Direct cooking is the term given to food items which are prepared for immediate consumption. Indirect is the term which is used for food which is cooked, chilled, stored in chilled conditions for subsequent regeneration.

Bigger capacity unstirred baths are commonly used for mis en place or indirect cooking. For direct cooking (immediate consumption) chefs sometimes prefer the smaller capacities placed on each relevant section e.g. sauce, fish, pastry.

Immersed or Vacuum Packs

Sometimes food can be poached directly in a liquid and not vacuum packed. The food portion is placed directly into oil for example and is not vacuum packed. Vegetable oil can be flavoured with a vanilla pod, star anise or such like.

Some chefs poach items in the bath filled with a stock eg chicken, vegetable etc. The most common process however is to put the food item into a vacuum bag and cook resulting in mise en place or for direct service.

What is molecular gastronomy?

A concept originally introduced in the 1980s, molecular gastronomy recognises the correlation between science and cookery. ‘Slow cooking’ is an important part of molecular gastronomy, due to the excellent flavours and textures which result.