One of the great things about sous vide cooking is that you can use the technique to cook more or less anything.
Experimenting with different foods to see how they taste when cooked sous vide is half of the fun, and you can’t go far wrong with using most ingredients, but there are some foods which definitely work better when cooked sous vide than others, which we’re going to take a quick look at here.
The Best Foods To Cook Sous Vide
Tougher Cuts of Meat
What’s important to remember here is that a ‘tougher’ or ‘cheaper’ cut of meat, doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘worse’ cut.
The reason that cuts such as the neck and leg are cheaper and less desirable is that they are constantly in motion on the animal, meaning that the protein strands in the muscles are much more robust, making them tougher to cook and eat, and hence, cheaper to buy from the butcher.
But this is where your sous vide machine comes in! The sous vide process breaks down these tough proteins and gives you a super tender cut, all from a product which most people would discard.
As an example, Chris Holland, our Chef Director here at Sous Vide Tools, loves to use beef short ribs, a cut known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.
Usually braised like pulled pork, when it’s cooked using sous vide it can actually become more like a tender steak. Delicious!
Eggs are one of the most popular foods to cook sous-vide for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is the control over texture that the method gives.
Because of the precise control of sous vide, you can control the exact consistency of your egg, so be sure to check out our guide to a perfect sous vide egg to determine how long you need to leave yours for, and at what temperature, from ‘flowing cream’ to ‘pliable camembert’. Starbucks recent made sous vide eggs famous with their ‘sous vide egg bites.’
Once you’ve got that consistency nailed, sous vide allows you to cook, consistently, eggs to perfection each and every time.
The second reason chefs love sous vide eggs so much is because of how easy it is to do! Due to the fact that the eggs are already contained within their shells, there’s no need for them to be vacuum packed.
Pork often has a bit of reputation as being one of the blander, drier meats. However, it’s a prime example of the wonders of sous vide.
The problem is that conventional cooking methods lose a lot of the fats and juices of pork, but sous vide retains these fats, turning them into flavour.
As an example, take a look at our recipe for how to cook pork rack sous-vide.
Lamb is another meat which is difficult to get right, with many cooks overdoing it, resulting in chewy, tough meat, and others overcompensating too much and leaving it undercooked.
This all means that it’s great for sous vide, removing all of the guesswork and guaranteeing a succulent, flavourful cut which you don’t have to constantly keep your eye on.
If you’ve always viewed lamb as a little bit boring, try it sous vide, such as in our recipe for lamb rump sous vide.
Vegetables are, by and large great for cooking sous vide, keeping them firm and crisp, and sous vide carrots are particularly good.
What’s great is that not only do you achieve the perfect texture, you can also infuse the carrots with things such as herbs and duck fat, all of which will infuse with the carrot to take it to the next level, before browning the carrots afterwards to caramelise their natural sugars.
The Worst Foods To Cook Sous Vide
While you certainly can cook fish sous vide, depending on your personal preferences, you might not want to.
The problem is that a filleted fish is simply too delicate and flaky to cook in sous-vide machine, and once it’s gone through the process, it’ll simply fall apart as you try to get it out of the bag.
Perhaps if you’d like to try out some sous vide seafood, you should try shellfish, like these tasty sous vide scallops.
There are some foods which feasibly can be cooked via sous vide, but simply aren’t worth the time, and liver is one of those foods.
Liver is such a lean product to begin with, that it really doesn’t benefit enough from the effects of sous vide, and you’re probably best off simply cooking it in the pan instead.
This might be a controversial one with some, and it might be a bit harsh to term it “one of the worst” foods to cook sous vide, but Chris believes that sous vide is somewhat wasted on a cut of fillet steak.
This is for a similar reason to those outlined with liver, and it’s just that fillet steak is already so tender, that putting in a sous vide machine won’t have enough of impact on it.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t cook your steak sous vide, just that the benefits may not be worth the time!
Hollandaise is notoriously tricky to get right, and while some chefs claim that sous vide makes it fool-proof, this isn’t the case.
Sous vide Hollandaise involves mixing egg yolk, lemon juice and butter in your sous vide machine, shaking a few times in the process.
Unfortunately, it’s still just as difficult to get right as it would be, and just as prone to falling apart and winding up lumpy and unappetising.
Of course, the best and worst foods to sous vide are often down to personal preference, however the above are our own thoughts. We’d love to know what you think works best when cooked sous vide or what you’d advise others to avoid at all costs?