In the field of cooking the process of Sous Vide has been a bit controversial in the United States. Sous Vide is a process in which food is vacuum sealed in plastic bags then controlled temperature cooked in a circulating bath. Although widely adopted as method cooking in Europe the FDA and USDA have made several strides in the last decade to kill this method of cooking in the restaurant scene. Chefs in NYC have literally been forced to throw away food in very high end restaurants. Their main issue of contention is that sous vide method in the air tight vacuum sealed bags can cause botulism to thrive due to the lack of oxygen, temperature and duration of cook time. However these are also the same people that want you to eat well done cheeseburgers and never touch sushi.
Why to Sous Vide?
The precision, repeatability of results and the overall final result of the product is the main reason to cook with this method. You have way more control with the outcome of final product. Overcooking a product is less likely with sous vide due to the fact that once you know how and for long to sous vide the entire process controlled temperature to proper doneness. A perfectly cooked piece of fish can be mind glowingly good as can a juicy pieces of medium-rare beef. Fat and collagen cells in meat break down much differently because of the gradual process and result in higher moisture retention and tenderness. Vegetables retain a crispy texture and much of the flavor lost during a traditional process like boiling are retained rather than lost. The biggest added bonus to sous vide is the benefit of imparting a ton of flavor into the product with seasoning without being lost in the cooking process.
It however is not all good with sous vide. The downside is you miss a lot of the flavors gained when pan roasting, searing or braising that you can’t get with strictly sous vide. The wonderful crust you achieve in conventional methods is my biggest detraction. Although once cooked you can add sear, crust or crispy skin, this often its by extremely hot and quick methods as to not ruin the doneness of the product I find that its just not the same. Texturally I think it alters some proteins that most people wouldn’t be use to eating if they haven’t tried it before. The cost of a proper setup can be rather high which is why up until recently it hasn’t found its way into the homes of people.
In the end I like the method a lot, but use it for minimal applications. Eggs cooking sous vide at a controlled temperature can be ridiculously delicious. It’s probably not for everyone or every home cook for that matter, but in the end I think its a worthy cooking method.
Check out https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/sous-vide-time-and-temperature-guide for some pretty good cook time and temperature references.