What Should You Not Sous Vide - Ask Jason

I get a lot of great questions from my readers. In order to help out everyone else I'm answering some of the most popular ones here on the blog. Have something you need help with? You can ask me on Facebook, contact me directly, or view all of the Ask Jason questions!

Thanks for all you do. What is the one thing you prefer not cooked sous vide versus conventional cooking?

- Darrin Wilson

Note:The following article is an edited transcript from the video.

This is a really great question!

We get in this kind of echo chamber when discussing the use of sous vide cooking. I feel there's two opposite groups of people. There's the one side who thinks sous vide is completely overrated; it can't do anything that you can't do with traditional cooking. Then there's the camp who thinks you should sous vide everything. You've probably seen the extreme of that in the once or twice a year joke post about "my popcorn is going in the sous vide machine".

Sous vide salmon carpaccio joule

Despite the fact I make a living from writing and talking about sous vide, I believe that not everything is better with sous vide. I really feel sous vide is another tool and depending on what you're trying to accomplish, it might be the best tool.

With Sous Vide Steaks it Depends

Sous vide short ribs mashed potatoes 11

You want to make short ribs that have the texture of steak, you should be using sous vide. Because it's going to be more tedious and time consuming to cook short ribs for 72 hours without using an immersion circulator. You can accomplish this using other methods, but it's going to be a pain in the butt.

If you're trying to cook a ribeye steak then maybe cooking it on the grill is the best way. Ribeyes aren't my favorite sous vide steak. But I love sous vide strip steaks and sous vide sirloin steaks, and the only way I eat a chuck steak is with sous vide. But when possible, I love just throwing a ribeye on the grill, getting a nice char on it and enjoying it that way.

Some of My Favorite Sous Vide Steak Recipes

Some Sous Vide Fish Doesn't Work Well

I think a lot of people are disappointed when they cook fish with sous vide. There's several types of fish preparation, but the 2 main general ones are grilled or pan-fried fish, and poached-like fish.

I always picture back in Boy Scouts when they would cook rainbow trout. They would catch them, clean them and then they throw them on the grill and it'd be nice crusty skin on one side with a few little grill marks on the top and that's all that would go into it. It was amazing and really flavorful.

Sous vide halibut chimichurri sauce 6

But to replicate that with sous vide is almost impossible. The fish is only 1/2 inch, maybe 3/4 inch, thick which only needs to be grilled 2 minutes per side to bring it up to temperature. So trying to reproduce the type of fish that is seared and has a crusty outside and more rawish inside, or is just thin enough that it cooks all the way through by the time you get a sear on it with sous vide is just not a good choice of cooking techniques.

Halibut citrus pudding close

Some Sous Vide Fish DO Work Well

On the other hand, you can make a lot of flavorful poaching liquids to cook fish in. You can poach them in butter, or you can steam them, or use any other low temperature cooking method with this type of fish. I personally think sous vide makes a flavorful poached fish really, really good. It's an area that sous vide can make fish shine.

If you're trying to do a more poached-like preparation, I have a few fish recipes on the blog that cook at low temperatures and then serving it as part of a dish. However, if you want the more pan fried or grilled fish then cooking it sous vide isn't the best way to go. There's a lot that I don't use sous vide for, but when used on the right kind of fish dish it can certainly make a big difference.

Fish tacos

Looking for a few good sous vide recipes? Here's some of my favorites:

If you like this you can get more than 85 inspiring recipes to get you on your way to sous vide success. It's all in my best selling book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide - Get Your Copy Today!

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All tags for this article: Ask Jason, Sous Vide, Sous Vide Fish

Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the AmazingFoodMadeEasy.com website.
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