The secret to the finest restaurants in the world getting your food out perfectly cooked? That would be the sous vide technique, which involves vacuum-sealing the food’s flavors and then cooking it in a water bath. We have the tricks to do this MacGyver style, with a plastic bag and thermometer. Or with your very own sous vide machine.
When I first started to sous vide, I learned the technique from our Europe Chef de Cuisine, Patricio (Pato) Fuentes. We met at his culinary school, Mimo in San Sebastian. Pato is one of the most talented chefs I have cooked with around the world. He upped my game in the kitchen with sous vide.
What I like about Pato is he doesn’t require you to have fancy equipment. I learned to sous vide with a ziplock bag, bowl of water and a thermometer. The key to successful sous vide is to vacuum seal the flavors into the food. Without a vacuum sealer, you can do this by placing your fish or meat in bag along with all the seasoning. Then you place that bag in a bowl of water, and allow the pressure of the water to “displace” the air in the bag. This allows you to get a natural seal. With the air out of the bag, you then just seal up the ziplock and you’re ready to start cooking.
With a thermometer, you heat your water to the desired temperature on the stove. Then you crank the heat down low so that it maintains that temperature. Add your sous vide bag to the pot of water, and set your timer accordingly. For halibut, it’s around 125-130 degrees for 30 minutes or so. You have to watch the temperature on the thermometer. You may need to add a little heat along the way to maintain your 130 degrees.
Of course, all of this is easier with the fancy tools like the vacuum sealer and the sous vide machine. The machine will automatically main your temperature, and also serve as the timer. I love though that I was McGyver and did this old school at the start. It wasn’t until my friend Liana gifted me a sous vide – the Darth Vader of machines by the way – that I actually got the fancy tools. Either way, it’s a go-to technique to cook when I have guests in the house. It keeps me out of the kitchen until it’s time to plate. The food also turns out perfectly, every time.