Five Problems With Sous Vide Cooking
Submitted by Stuart Broz on Sat, 12/12/2009 - 10:52am
While cooking sous vide can have some awesome effects, it is far from perfect. In my two weeks of experimentation, I found five big problems with the technique.
- Sous Vide Cooking Is Slow Some things cook reasonably quickly, but they are outnumbered by the variety of foods that cook for hours, or even days. This would normally not be a huge problem, but - unless you are a professional chef (or Nathan Myhrvold) - you probably only have one set-up for cooking sous vide (see #3 and #5, below).
- Food Cooked Sous Vide Is Ugly Now, if you have a high-end vacuum sealer, you can apparently get some pretty cool results by shaping your food. Still, most food coming out of the water bath is unappetizing in color. Vegetable pigments break down. Meats end up in various shades of gray-brown. Saucing is recommended.
- You Can Only Cook One Thing At A Time Most of the point of sous vide cooking involves precise temperature control. Chances are, if you want to cook two things sous vide, you are going to want to cook them at different temperatures. With a single set up, you can't do that.
- It Doesn't Produce The Malliard Reaction This is related to #2, but it isn't just a visual problem. The Malliard Reaction and related chemical processes are responsible for adding a ton of flavor to food. You aren't going to get a nice sear or crust on food cooked sous vide, unless you add it afterward... which isn't always ideal.
- Sous Vide Equipment Is Expensive If you're good with wiring, you should be able to hack together a temperature controller on the cheap. If you're not, a temperature control setup will set you back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Vacuum sealing equipment is not much better. You can use a $10 handheld unit, but I found it to be unsatisfactory. Air would sometimes be left in the bag, causing it to float to the surface of the water bath and cook unevenly. A good foodsaver would help, but a chamber sealer would be even better (and let you vacuum seal liquids, too).