Sous vide may be the darling cooking method for the gourmet end of the market, but how does this submerged vacuum technique compare to other modern technologies?
According to Mark Hogan, marketing and sales manager of supplier, Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM): “Sous vide cooking is so quick and easy. It offers a more precise and gentle way of cooking, enabling chefs to get the very best from ingredients. Sous vide allows products to be prepared before service, then quickly finished off – so it can bring a better quality of food to grab and go operations.
“Being unlikely to overcook, it reduces waste and aids consistency. With handy equipment, such as FEM’s Sirman Easysoft sous vide/vacuum packer combo, even smaller establishments can get in on the act and reap the benefits.
“Being compact, multi-functional, easy to use and fast are key features of the Easysoft, making it ideal for those looking to start out in sous vide cooking. The fact that it is the first of its kind to combine the two functions in the one unit is definitely a bonus.”
He advised dealers: “In recent years sous vide cookery has entered the foodservice industry’s consciousness after gaining popularity with gourmet chefs. Cooking sous vide helps retain the flavour, aroma and nutritional value of food while reducing shrinkage and helping to guarantee consistent results.”
At Instanta, sales director Graham Crisp sees four key advantages to using sous vide cookers. “Firstly, and despite what many people think, the technique is actually very simple and can be learnt quite quickly,” he explained. “Secondly, it saves a lot of time during service by virtue of the fact that it allows the operator to prepare food well in advance and hold it safely and accurately at the required temperature.
“Thirdly, it’s very versatile – cook individual or multiple portions as and when you need them. And finally, it is very affordable in terms of both equipment and running costs.” He cited other unique selling points for these units as consistency of results, improved texture, nutrients and flavours and higher yield of cooked product.
For sites which require quick cooking, he detailed: “There is most definitely a place for sous vide cooking in the grab and go sector. In fact, we have seen an increase in the number of our machines being installed in fast food outlets. They are a great way of cooking meat and holding it at a set temperature ready to ‘flash’ on the grill. This saves the operator a lot of time when compared to cooking from scratch, prevents food from being left to dry out in a holding cabinet, is a great way of reducing waiting times and cuts down wastage.”
As regards to what dealers should consider, Crisp said: “Ensure that the end user has the adequate space and appropriate surface for the unit to go on. Listen to the customer’s requirements; this will determine what capacity machine they require.”
For Chris Holland, chef director at Sous Vide Tools: “Compared to other cooking methods, sous vide provides greater control and, as a result, perfect results that can be replicated time and again.
“With all other cooking techniques, heat penetrates from the outside of the food until the centre gets to the right temperature, which means that even if you want a rare piece of beef you will still have to roast it in an oven at around 280°C to ensure that the centre reaches 54°C. With sous vide you can ensure that food is cooked at the same temperature throughout, is never overdone, doesn’t dry out, and retains all its nutrients and flavour.