Enjoy Sous Vide—The New Home Cooking Method

Sous vide ovens have been around for more than 45 years, primarily in France and Europe. Only in the last couple of years have home versions become available.

Sous vide immersion cooker
Sous vide immersion cookers available by Sancere. Other versions are also available online by Sous Vide Supreme.

They are selling like hotcakes. I found a new “demi” version on Amazon.com that was no bigger than a small microwave oven, with a discount that was remarkable. Ideally you will also need to purchase a vacuum bag sealer, which can also be found online.

What are we talking about here? Sous vide in French is “under vacuum.” It’s a water oven that is very easy to operate. It involves cooking in a water bath for a specific time, until your food reaches the temperature you want. It’s a tried and true method that works.

The difference here is the precision of the cooking method. Unlike a slow cooker, or a smoker, sous vide is all about precisely cooking food with little variance in temperature. It is very convenient and the resulting flavor make your meals taste amazingly delicious. Herbs and spices in moderation will enhance the flavor of the dish. Sodium is not needed.

The trick is dropping the food in a sealed bag into precisely heated water for a designated time that will cook exactly what you wish to achieve—rare or medium or well done beef,  seafood,  chicken,  pork, or vegetables. Sous vide books will provide tables to follow.

When your meat, for example, reaches the target temperature, you simply remove the sealed bag from the water, take your beef, or chicken or vegetables out of the water to sear or brown for 30-45 seconds in a cast iron skillet, and you are done.

In contrast to traditional cooking that must raise the temperature of your oven, stovetop or grill to 500 degrees or more to achieve a rare internal temperature of 130 degrees, sous vide is far more efficient and probably healthier since charcoal steaks are flavorful but potentially carcinogenic as well.

One disadvantage of sous vide is the longer cooking time. However, you can cut a roast into smaller, thinner pieces to reduce your cooking time.

The two recipes below further clarify how sous vide works compared to a grilling technique. Let your own taste buds help choose your favorite method.

Sous vide steak


Sous vide steak

Comparing Sous Vide to Grilling Recipe

(Adapted from Steve Cylka’s Perfect Steak)


1 strip sirloin, 1” thick
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper


Grilled  “Non Sous Vide” Steak Version

1. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Sear for 45-60 seconds on both sides. While searing, add the butter and baste.

2. Move skillet to oven at 400 degrees and continue cooking for four minutes (for medium rare).

3. Remove the steak from skillet and lightly season with pepper.

4. Let rest 3-4 minutes.

Sous Vide Steak Version

1. Fill the sous vide machine with water

2. Set the machine temperature to 134 degrees for medium rare.

3. Place the steak in the water bath in a vacuum sealed bag.

4. Cook in water for one hour.

5. Remove the steak from the bag and pat dry

6. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on high heat. Sear for 30-45 seconds on both sides.

7. Remove the steak from skillet and lightly season with pepper.

8. Let rest 3-4 minutes.




Please send comments, questions, and observations of interest to: Chef Alan Zox at [email protected].