Whether it’s a Friday night dinner at home or at a summer barbecue, there’s never a bad time for a steak.
With such a popular staple, it goes without saying that people have their varied methods of cooking their steak. It’s widely accepted, however, that slow cooking steak leads to a delicious, tender meat, but the debate still stands: is the sous vide or reverse sear method better for the perfect steak?
Of course, the answer to this question depends on preference, so we’ve decided to create a guide explaining the pros and cons of both techniques so that you can make up your own mind.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with sous vide, it’s a style of cooking and a French phrase which means ‘under vacuum’. The cooking process involves sealing your food in a vacuum bag and slow cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature. Using this technique, it’s near impossible to overcook your food.
Sous vide cooking is fantastic as it allows you to slow cook your steak to perfection every time, whether you like it rare, well done, or somewhere in between, regardless of the size and thickness of your steak.
However, there is one potential negative – depending on how you enjoy your meat – to cooking steak sous vide: searing. Sous vide meats usually come out of the bag wet as their juices come out when they’re cooked, which means that it’s really quite difficult to get a good sear on a sous vide steak, even if you pat it dry.
If you want to find out more about sous vide cooking, read through our ultimate guide which will tell you everything you need to know.
Reverse searing was actually designed as a way of replicating sous vide-style results without sous vide equipment so, although the techniques differ greatly, the end result is fairly similar.
With reverse searing, you slow cook your steak in the oven between 93°C and 135°C until it’s just below your desired serving temperature. Then, once it’s cooked through, sear your steak to match your preferences.
Reverse searing will give you that much-coveted crispy brown finish, whilst still allowing for a tender and evenly cooked centre.
However, reverse searing isn’t a great technique to use if you have a thinly cut steak (such as a steak thinner than an inch and a half), as they tend to cook through too quickly. If you’re interested in trying this technique, here’s a step-by-step guide from Buzzfeed.
As mentioned previously, there really is no definitive answer as to whether sous vide cooking or reverse searing is the best technique for cooking steak – it really does depend on your own personal preference.
With a sous vide steak, you’ll get a perfectly cooked steak every time, almost completely eliminating your chances of overcooking it. You’ll also get the added convenience of being able to leave your steak to cook unattended for hours before you need it so that you can have more time to enjoy, without having to check up on it.
Similarly, you can also ensure that your steak is cooked precisely how you like it with sous vide due to the accuracy of the circulator. However, a sous vide steak is harder to sear due to it being wet when it comes out of the vacuum bag.
A reverse seared steak, however, is ideal for the perfect sear as the meat dries when it’s being cooked and, like sous vide, reverse searing cooks your steak evenly throughout. Reverse searing isn’t appropriate for all steaks, though; a steak on the thinner side will cook through too quickly using this technique, so sous vide would usually be the better option.
If you’re looking to try your hand at perfectly cooked meals with sous vide, take a look at our blog, The Tool Shed, for recipes, techniques, news and much more.