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What is Sous Vide?
(and why should I care?)
Maybe you're a little intimidated about the idea of getting into Sous Vide, but don't worry, it's simpler than you think.
Trust me when I say this. Sous Vide sounds way more intense than it actually is. True it’s used by professional chefs (and for good reason), but it’s probably the simplest thing a chef can even do.
So What Is It?
Sous Vide is a French word that simply means “under vacuum.” But really it could be better described by the phrase “hot water bath.” At its most fundamental process it’s just cooking food in a hot water bath that is held at a precise and controlled temperature.
Now, the key words there are precise and controlled. That’s what makes Sous Vide so unique and desirable. It gives you the ability to control the exact temperature you want to cook your food at.
It does this by either circulating water past a heating coil (immersion circulator) or by using a water bath (also called a water oven) with multiple thermometers and a heating element to calculate the exact temperature of the water (If you are wondering which type you should get, we will address that below shortly).
Vacuum Sealing your food allows it to stay submerged and cook evenly.
So where does this idea of “under vacuum” come in? Well since you are cooking your food in a water bath you want to make sure that whatever you are cooking stays submerged.
The simplest and best way to do this is to put the food in a bag and get it under vacuum. This essentially means removing all of the air from the bag so that it will sink when placed in the water. Again, maybe this sounds complex and intimidating, but at its core all you are doing is putting your food in an airtight bag to make sure it doesn't float (this can even just be a Ziploc).
Check out our Quick Start Guide Video to learn more about Sous Vide cooking and about using the Zing Sous Vide Water Oven.
So, Why Should I Care?
So, a tub of hot water may seem kinda insignificant, but when this process allows professional chefs to get perfectly edge to edge medium rare steak every single time, then you begin to understand the reason why almost every single restaurant uses this method.
Sous Vide is so loved by chefs of all pedigrees because with Sous Vide you never have to worry about overcooking your food. This transforms some of the complex guesswork of cooking things like meat and dairy into an insanely simple process. You simply let the sous vide machine do its work and your food comes out perfectly cooked every time.
Sous Vide allows you to have tender and juicy steak every time.
And because you vacuum seal your steak (or whatever else) before it’s cooked, all of the juices get trapped inside and lead to a wonderfully tenderized and fresh result.
And it’s not just for steak, sous vide allows you to perfectly cook almost anything. You can make delicate and dense eggs for a lovely mock-Starbucks egg bite or even a simple but wonderfully juicy garlic butter chicken.
Now because your food is being cooked inside a bag, this does mean in certain situations (like with steak, pork, and chicken) you will need to finish the cooking process with a quick sear in a frying pan, or a pop in the air fryer (in the case of egg bites).
As I’ll mention in a bit, one of the reasons why I love using the Zing Sous Vide Water Oven is because you can Sous Vide and Sear with the same machine.
Now, let’s be real here. Sous Vide is not the quickest process in the world. Because it uses such a precise and delicate process to cook your food, this does mean that generally it will take longer than other traditional methods. To get that perfectly medium rare steak it is going to take you two hours (but nothing is stopping you from cooking more than one at the same time).
Get consistent soft boiled eggs every time.
But again, here is the beautiful thing about the Sous Vide process, even if you leave your food cooking for hours (or even days) longer than it should have, it’s still not going to overcook.
So, if you are willing to wait a little longer for your meal, you can have perfectly cooked food every single time. And all you have to do is put your food in a bag, put it in the water bath and then wait. Seriously, it’s just that simple.
So what do you need to get started? Well, you really only need two things: A Sous Vide machine and some airtight bags (or vacuum bags). As mentioned earlier there are two types of Sous Vide machines. Immersion Circulators (which are the long tube looking guys) and Water Baths (which often look a lot like pressure cookers).
Now both kinds of machines have their pros and cons, but my personal recommendation is the Zing Sous Vide Water Oven, and I’ll tell you why.
For starters, the Zing Water Oven is an all in one machine. You don’t need to buy any additional accessories and there are no attachments or applications to figure out. It comes with everything you need to immediately get started and it has a really easy to use interface.
Sous Vide in one machine.
In addition to this it’s also super easy to clean and maintain. All you have to do is take out the pot, empty it out, refill it and you're ready to go again. There are no moving parts to clean like on an immersion circulator.
Immersion circulators use circulation to ensure that the whole water bath is a precise temperature but because they don’t often use insulated containers and because they only have one temperature sensor this can lead to imprecise results.
The Zing Sous Vide Water Oven solves this problem by using an insulated and sealed container, as well as dual temperature sensors to make sure the water is at the same temperature in the top and bottom of the pot.
And because this machine uses two temperature sensors instead of a circulator it is completely noiseless, which may not seem like a big deal, but it’s nice not to have a humming noise for 3 hours straight while I’m cooking something at home.
Now true, immersion circulators are more portable than water ovens. So if you want something a little more portable than an immersion circulator might work for you, but for most people I think a water oven is a great choice. The Zing Sous Vide Water Oven only has a 12in. X 12in. footprint, and can still fit two whole tri-tips!
Now here’s a big one for me. The Zing Sous Vide Water Oven isn’t just a Sous Vide machine. It has 6 other cooking modes. This means you can steam, saute, sous vide, and cook rice with one machine. Like I mentioned above, I can sous vide my steak and sear it with the same machine, which is not only super cool, but saves me a lot of time on dishes!
The Zing Water Oven has 7 cooking modes.
Okay the final and possibly most important consideration is price. The Zing Sous Vide Water Oven only costs $150 on Amazon right now (this includes everything you need to immediately start cooking) which is a very competitive price for a quality Sous Vide machine (compare this to the most basic Anova Immersion Circulator which is $150 and doesn't include the specialized cooking pot you need).
So we learned that at its most basic, Sous Vide is using a machine to precisely cook sealed food in a water bath to ensure perfect results every time. It really is just as simple as putting your food in a bag, putting it into the water bath and waiting.
Now, if you are short on time, you might want to skip Sous Vide cooking as it can take longer to cook food than other traditional processes, but if you have the time, Sous Vide is a simple way to get amazing results that will impress your friends and family.