Do Restaurants Use Sous Vide?

Is sous vide cooking tough? Do restaurants use sous vide? Does food cooked using sous vide taste better? These are but a few questions people tend to ask when learning the art of sous vide cooking. However, if you’ve had your ear to the ground, you’d know that a majority of chefs in the culinary world choose to use the sous vide cooking process in their kitchens. In fact, a lot of chefs swear by the sous vide technique of cooking: sous vide is cooking in batches while controlling the quality of food.

What Is Sous Vide Cooking?

One of the joys of using the sous vide cooking method is it’s a very hands-off method. Most foods can just be put in a bag and left for the required time. Using the charts available for cooking times allows you to be precise and know the food is cooked as you want it.

It’s always better to ensure the center of the food has reached the required temperature for safety. Many restaurants and professional kitchens do this using a probe thermometer. The thermometer is probed either through the part opening the bag and probing the center of the food, or by using “self-healing” foam patches that can be placed on the outside of the bags. This allows chefs to pierce the probe through the plastic to check the temperature without allowing leakage.

Benefits of Using Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking

Something else to consider while answering the question “do restaurants use sous vide?”is the many benefits associated with it. Perhaps that’s why it has become so popular in commercial establishments.

Consistency

The scientific principles behind sous vide cooking mean that there is a consistency you won’t find in other sorts of cooking. For instance, cooking a steak that’s an inch thick needs different timing to one that’s two inches thick. But with the sous vide cooking method, the steak will cook evenly all the way through, every time, no matter how thick. The sous vide method means consistent results: this is what makes it so popular in restaurant kitchens.

More Accurate Cooking

Because the water is at a constant temperature, food won’t end up dry when it’s cooked. It’s much more difficult to overcook something you’re making with precise timings. Since restaurants end up with repeat orders, they already have a timing chart worked out to cook food at the given timescales.

Succulence

The vacuum sealed package means that there is nowhere for juices or gravy to escape to. Gravy stays within the food, making it succulent and moist. Cooking a steak conventionally can release several teaspoons of juice, but with the sous vide method, tenderness is retained within the meat. This juice contains a lot of flavor, so if it’s held within the food, more flavor is retained, too.

Sauces and flavorings can be pre-prepared and added to the vacuum bags before cooking, so more of the flavor is held within the food.

A More Efficient Method

The sous vide method can be a much more efficient cooking system: many “bags” or pouches of food can be prepared at one time, and served out to customers when needed. This is ideal if you’re cooking for off-peak hours when the flow of customers is far less. This saves chefs from putting in too much effort, materials, and ingredients to prepare a meal for just a few people. Moreover, even if you’re short staffed, sous vide cooking allows you to enjoy an efficient means of cooking without compromising on quality.

Cooking Bigger Portions

This is one of the key benefits that help in answering questions like “do restaurants use sous vide?” Using sous vide, large portions of food can be cooked perfectly in a way that wouldn’t be possible with other methods. Other methods allow the outer portions of food to be ready long before the middle is cooked through. The only limitation with sous vide is the size of your water bath!

“Hands Off” Cooking

Although the cooking times are much longer than other methods with sous vide, this cooking method is “hands off.” Chefs are free to do other things and focus on other foods on the menu – there is not any stirring or checking required.

As it’s not time critical, and food can be left sitting in a bath, you can safely go out and leave food without worrying that you might be delayed and ruin the meal.

Become an Adventurous Cook

The combination of consistency and ease can turn even a novice into a Gordon Ramsay or make chefs more adventurous in their cooking. This method takes a lot of guesswork out, and allows chefs to produce gourmet food without major cooking skills.

Pasteurization

The long cooking times with sous vide can pasteurize food, killing harmful organisms. This method is useful since restaurants will always be cooking for those whose immune systems are compromised or underdeveloped, such as the young or elderly, or those with certain medical conditions. It means that people can still enjoy foods that are not overcooked, such as soft poached eggs or medium rare meat.

No Shrinkage

Because there is no water loss with sous vide cooking, foods retain their size and shape, so items like chicken breasts will not shrink down in a disappointing way!

Nutrition Retained

Water soluble vitamins are retained, increasing the nutritional content compared to boiling or steaming. This makes it a benefit, particularly for preparing vegetables and fruit.

Do Restaurants Use Sous Vide in the U.S.?

While not all restaurants in the U.S. use sous vide cooking, some of the top restaurants that use the sous vide cooking technique in America include:

  • Equinox (Washington, D.C)
  • Beaker & Gray (Miami, Florida)
  • Boston Chops (Boston, MA)
  • Kayne Prime (Nashville, TN)
  • Laurel (Passyunk, PA)
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (Across the U.S.)

Famous Sous Vide Recipes Used in Restaurants

1. Langoustines with Garlic Herbed Butter

Langoustines with herb and butter

Langoustines (you could also use small lobster tails) are delicious cooked sous vide and smothered in garlic and herb butter. You can use the liquid from the pouch to provide a delicious dressing for your langoustines. Parsley or tarragon are the best herbs to use, but rosemary in the pouches gives off a wonderful taste and aroma.

Serving 4 (as a starter)
Preparation Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Ingredients
  • 12 langoustines
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed or grated finely
  • Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
Method
  1. Set the sous vide machine to 130°F/56°C.
  2. Place the langoustines, 6 tablespoons of butter, rosemary, and salt in a large vacuum-seal pouch. Vacuum seal the pouch.
  3. Place the bag in the water bath and set the timer for 1 hour.
  4. Make your garlic butter by mixing the crushed garlic, parsley and butter together. Leave the mix ready to melt when langoustines have finished cooking.
  5. When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath. Carefully remove the langoustines from the bag.
  6. Gently grip each langoustine on the sides to remove head, tail, and intestines before putting on plates.
  7. Heat the handmade garlic butter, but do not boil.
  8. Place langoustines on your serving plates and drizzle with melted butter from the bag, plus some of the garlic butter you made.
  9. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve.
Nutritional Information Calories: 217, Fats: 23.4 g, Carbohydrates: 2.6g, Protein: 0.9g

2. BBQ Pork Ribs

bbq pork ribs

We all love ribs – the stickier the better. No matter which restaurant you choose to visit, you can always count on finding ribs on their menu. With sous vide cooking, you can’t spoil these ribs – in fact, this method of cooking ensures they’ll be tender, so the meat will come away from the bones easily.

Serving 4
Preparation Time 20 minutes plus min. 6 hours chilling
Cook Time 12 hours plus 30 – 40 minutes finishing
Ingredients
  • 2 racks of bone-in pork ribs
  • 6 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • BBQ sauce, your choice
Method
  1. Carefully peel the membrane off the back of the ribs, and cut the rack into pieces of 3 to 4 ribs each. Combine the paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Rub the spice mixture into the ribs on both sides, then place them in vacuum-seal bags.
  3. Add a few drops of liquid smoke to each bag, then fold over the top of the bags.
  4. Vacuum seal the bags, and place them in the refrigerator to chill for 6 to 12 hours.
  5. Preheat your sous vide cooker to a temperature of 165°F/74°C.
  6. Place the vacuum-sealed bags in the cooker and cook for 12 hours until it reaches the desired temperature. Transfer the bags to an ice water bath until thoroughly chilled.
  7. Remove the ribs from the bags and pat them dry with paper towels.
  8. Preheat your oven to 300°F/150°C and line baking sheets with foil. Place the ribs on the baking sheets and cook for 20 minutes until heated through. Brush the ribs with your choice of barbecue sauce.
  9. Cook the ribs for another 40 minutes, turning and brushing with sauce every 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Nutritional Information Calories: 364, Fats: 17.3g, Carbohydrates: 25.0g, Protein: 29.4g

3. Shoulder of Lamb

Sous-vide lamb rib

A shoulder of lamb is one of the tastiest cuts, even though it can be a little fatty. It benefits from sous vide or slow cooking. Using a semi-dry rub with Italian flavors, the end result is very delicious.

Serving 6
Preparation Time 15 minutes (get your butcher to butterfly your lamb) plus 10 hours curing/marinating
Cook Time 72 hours plus 5 – 10 minutes to finish off
Ingredients
  • 4 1⁄2 lb/2kg shoulder of lamb, butterflied
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp (heaped) oregano (or you can also use thyme)
  • 1⁄2 tbsp garlic powder, or 2 cloves grated garlic

For the herb butter

  • 7oz/200g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp oregano
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
Method
  1. Mix together the orange zest, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon oregano, and garlic. Open out your butterflied shoulder of lamb and make a few cuts in it. Rub the marinade into the cuts and all over the inside of the lamb. Cover and place in the fridge for 10 hours, or overnight.
  2. When ready, set the water bath to 130°F/56°C.
  3. Remove lamb from the fridge and gently dust off the marinade, and pat with paper towel. Roll the shoulder up and tie to keep intact.
  4. Mix together your herb butter ingredients, and then smooth all over the outside of the lamb. Place in a pouch and vacuum seal.
  5. Place in the preheated water bath, and cook for 72 hours. Don’t let the water level fall below the pouch.
  6. Remove the shoulder from the pouch, and brown in a pan or on top of the barbeque to give a lovely glazed finish.
  7. If you want to do all work in advance, put the cooked lamb shoulder in its pouch in iced water, and when cold, place in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat at 130°F/56°C for 1 hour and 40 minutes, then finish the glazing process.
Nutritional Information Calories: 1473, Fats: 98.8g, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 125.5g

In Conclusion

So, now that you have your answer to “do restaurants use sous vide?” as well as the benefits they reap out of it and some of the delicious recipes that involve sous vide cooking, perhaps it’s time to try some of the best restaurants in your neighborhood. Enjoy a moist and flavorsome sous vide meal, and bon appetit!

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