We get a lot of questions about our Sous Vide Egg Bites, and it's easy to see why: the term "sous vide" can sound intimidating at first, but the truth is that it's no more complicated than cooking with an Instant Pot! So what is sous vide, anyway? Pronounced "soo veed", it's a fancy French term for a specific method of cooking food. This cooking technique is used in restaurants and home kitchens all over the world, but in our case, it's the secret to three flavors of creamy, delicious egg bites.
What does sous vide mean?
In the simplest terms possible, sous vide - which translates to "under vacuum" - is a cooking technique that involves sealing food in an airtight bag or container, then cooking that food by submerging the bag or container in a bath of water that's temperature-controlled by a gadget known as a sous vide cooker or sous vide machine. Specially made vacuum-sealed bags are common vessels for cooking meat or fish sous vide, while Mason jars are often used for liquids like eggs. Similar to a slow cooker, sous vide is gentle, low and slow cooking method, usually requiring up to a few hours of cook time depending on the ingredient being cooked. But unlike a slow cooker, the sous vide method ensures that absolutely no direct contact is made between the heat source and the food.
How does sous vide work?
To cook your favorite ingredients in a water bath using the sous vide method, you'll need two things:
- A sous vide cooker, which does the actual heating of the water. Many of today's modern models are made for home cooks and easy to use in the comfort of your own kitchen, even if you're a beginner!
- An airtight cooking vessel, because sealing your food without air will keep your ingredients totally submerged in the water and result in an even cook.
The best part about sous vide is that the cooker does all the work for you, so it's an excellent option for anyone seeking perfectly cooked steak, chicken, fish, or eggs (and much more!) every time. Here's a breakdown of the sous vide cooking process at a glance:
Step 1: The ingredient is added to an airtight, food safe, and heatproof vessel, such as a plastic vacuum-sealed bag or a Mason jar.
Step 2: The vessel is submerged in a large food safe container or pot of water attached to a sous vide cooker, which has a heating mechanism that regulates the water temperature (typically well below water's boiling point of 212F/100C).
Step 3: After anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, you're left with a perfectly cooked ingredient!
Step 4: If cooking meat such as steak or chicken, the final and optional step is very briefly searing it in a hot pan. This will add texture and flavor to your proteins without messing with the perfectly cooked interior.
What does a sous vide cooker do?
Though they may look fancy, sous vide cookers are very simple tools. Most popular models made for home cooking start at less than $100, and tend to get more expensive as more features are added on, such as bluetooth capabilities. Most sous vide cookers look like a column that can be attached to the edge of a pot or container holding water. Once clipped to the vessel, a metal coil inside the cooker heats and circulates the water, holding it at a consistent temperature of your choice for a set length of time. While a sous vide cooker is essential to this cooking method, a vacuum sealer is not. An easy workaround for eliminating air from your heat safe plastic bag? Simply submerge the lower portion in water, leaving the open end above the surface. Once the air has been forced out, seal the bag and you're ready to start cooking!
Benefits of sous vide
By far, the biggest benefit of using the sous vide cooking method is achieving a perfect, consistent cook every single time. Even for professional chefs, this is not nearly as easy to pull off when using the much hotter oven, stovetop, or even other gadgets like pressure cookers, which often cook unevenly and can be unpredictable. Have you ever pan fried a chicken breast and found that the exterior had a lip-smacking, crispy crust while the inside was still slightly underdone? A sous vide cooker can ensure that this never happens again! A perfect cook is just one of many benefits that sous vide offers. Others include:
Better flavor: Cooking in a vacuum-sealed vessel means no flavor loss. Seasoning with salt and pepper, fresh herbs, and marinades will only introduce your ingredient to even more flavor, infusing those aromatics into the food during the cooking process.
Better consistency and texture: Since you have total control over time and temperature, cooking sous vide allows you to achieve your desired level of doneness or tenderness in every bite of that steak or those veggies.
Completely hands-off: Set it and forget it! Like cooking with a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you can walk away from your sous vide cooker knowing that when you come back, you'll have a delicious meal that required virtually no hands-on cooking.
Multitasking: Since your ingredients will be sealed in individual bags or containers, you can cook multiple ingredients sous vide at the same time, making it a great option for meal prep.
Minimal equipment required: Yes, you'll have to purchase a kitchen gadget specifically for this purpose, but once you have a sous vide cooker to call your own, the sky's the limit!
Best foods to sous vide
Sous vide cookers are often used for meat and fish, but can also be helpful when preparing tender veggies, eggs just the way you like them, and creamy desserts like mini cheesecakes and custards. Some of the most common foods cooked sous vide include:
- Creme br√ªl√©e
Why sous vide egg bites?
Let's face it: eggs are easy to overcook. Whether you're making scrambled eggs or hard-boiled, overcooking can lead to a rubbery texture and even a sulfurous smell. And if you like your yolks runny but your whites firm, it's tough to find that ideal balance without overcooking at least one element of the egg. Sous vide is a perfect solution: it ensures that your egg is cooked evenly and to your desired doneness with no risk of overcooking. Take our Sous Vide Egg Bites, for example: they're cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch, to a very precise temperature, in a water bath. This helps our bites retain the most flavor possible, and ensures they're cooked exactly the same way, every time. The result? An egg-cellent, mouthwatering snack with superior, extra fluffy and creamy texture without the use of fillers like cream or cottage cheese.
History of sous vide
How did the sous vide cooking method come to be, anyway? The history of sous vide suggests that it doesn't necessarily have a single origin. In the late 1960s, retired army colonel Ambrose McGuckian began cooking food for his hospital patients by submerging the ingredients in plastic bags, then in a water bath in an attempt to improve the quality and flavor of the meals served at the South Carolina hospital where he worked. McGuckian simply called it "water bath cooking," but is largely credited for being one of the first people to cook food sous vide style. Fast forward to the 1970s, when French chefs Pierre Troisgros, Bruno Goussault, and George Pralus all independently began using a sous vide method in hopes of improving their food by preventing dry exteriors and adding tenderness to proteins like roast beef and foie gras. By the mid-70s, the method had been commercialized. Today, renowned chefs like Thomas Keller have helped sous vide cooking grow in popularity, especially among home cooks.