By: Carrie Dooher Date: 1/7/11
While not new to the culinary scene or foodies throughout the world, I recently discovered sous-vide. I had the extreme pleasure of both eating food prepared through sous-vide, as well as touring the first sous-vide processing facility in the United States, Cuisine Solutions, located in Alexandria, Virginia. And I am impressed.
The first time I knowingly ate food prepared using sous-vide was earlier this year at a meeting where I learned about the benefits of this innovative food preparation method. (I say “knowingly” because I since learned that many top chefs and restaurants have been using sous-vide for years to prepare their dishes and it is likely that I’ve eaten food prepared this way before.) As someone interested both in eating healthful and nutritious foods, and foods that are prepared and stored safely, I was pleased to hear that sous-vide is a technique that accomplishes all of these things.
What is Sous-Vide?
Sous-vide, a cooking process developed in France more than thirty years ago, is a cooking technique that controls both temperature and timing. By cooking food in hermetically sealed pouches in water (an efficient and consistent conductor of heat) at lower temperatures and for longer periods of time than are typically used in kitchens, proteins (meats, fish) become more tender, flavors are enhanced, and foods are fully pasteurized and stay fresh longer than traditional foods. After cooking, the foods are then frozen and distributed throughout the world for reheating and serving. This technology has allowed high-quality, safe food to be delivered to consumers traveling on planes and trains, guests enjoying hotel services, and to our military men and women around the globe. Throughout history, new cooking techniques have been employed and developed to deliver food more safely and efficiently. Not unlike many other food preparations or cooking processes, sous-vide provides great advantages: convenience, variety, accessibility, quality, and healthful food options. In fact, sous-vide as a cooking technique has been predicted to become so popular and common that it will soon be as prevalent as common household kitchen items such as the Cuisinart.
But, like most Americans, what ultimately won me over was the taste and the quality of the food. After tasting perfectly cooked, medium-rare short ribs that you could cut with your fork that were bursting with flavor and juice, I knew I was a fan. And I knew that given the opportunity, I will continue to seek out opportunities to taste and learn about sous-vide, a technology and perhaps an appliance that would be welcome in my kitchen next to my Cuisinart.