Skip to main content

What is Sous Vide Cooking? Chef Tyson Ho Lets Us in on the Details

If you’ve ever dined at a fancy French restaurant and wondered how the chefs there cooked a slab of meat to tender perfection, they’re probably using the sous vide method. Sous vide translates to “under vacuum” and involves cooking foods using a pot of water and a vacuum-sealed bag. It is a trendy culinary technique, for sure.

But did you know that it originates from an old-school method? We’re not going to spoil everything because Tyson Ho, the owner of Arrogant Swine in New York City, will talk about everything you need to about sous vide cooking. Then, head on to our roundup of the best sous vide machines if want to hone your sous vide cooking skills.

Related Videos

The Manual: It’s strange to think boiling a steak would lead to a perfect result — can you explain some of the science behind the sous vide method?

Tyson Ho: Sous vide demystifies most of meat cookery. The craft of the cook is the subjugation of fire to maintain a temperature. This is very hard to do, fire is an ancient and violently unstable god. Sous vide eliminates the need to master cookery because a set temperature is at your fingertips.

Sous vide allows for meat to hit a desired temperature and go no further, defanging the threat of overcooking. It does this by slowly raising the internal temperature of the meat in a stable and controlled environment i.e., the water bath. Its creation is no less pivotal than the lever and pulley were for the caveman.

A hand holding a vacuum-sealed bag containing meat on a tray with a sous vide machine.
Annick Vanderschelden Photography/Getty Images

TM: How long has this cooking method been around?

TH: Sous vide is a fairly recent cooking method that, in my opinion, evolved from the classic French technique: En vessie. En Vessie was a technique of slow cooking popularized by the father of modern French cuisine, Fernand Point (1897-1955). When a dish is cooked en vessie, the animal is placed inside a pig’s bladder and seasoned with aromatics like truffles and boosted with aromatic liquors like sherry, cognac, or Madeira.

The bladder is tied and set over simmering waters, where it would balloon up slowly, cooking chicken or poultry in its natural juices. The underlying theory became mainstream. Gentle cooking of meat resulted in a product that was more tender and juicy.

A cooked steak in a vacuum-sealed bag on a wooden table.
Annick Vanderschelden Photography/Getty Images

TM: Do you get the sense many restaurants and/or chefs are using sous vide?

TH: Sous vide is largely relegated to high-end restaurants and most chefs avoid it because of the extra administrative requirements to legally use sous vide. The technique is not one that our modern health departments understand and so many unnecessary fines have scared off chefs.

TM: Is there anything we can’t cook via sous vide?

TH: Barbecue. Like Flat Earth theorists, there are some who believe that barbecue can be cooked sous vide. And just like flat earth theorists, to design to their thoughts is nothing short of irrational.

TM: How difficult is it to master?

TH: [It’s] a device so easy a child could cook meat at the precision of a Michelin-star chef.

Editors' Recommendations

Ramen noodles can be so much more than just a 2 am drunken mistake
Turn your instant ramen into a restaurant quality dish
instant ramen noodles packet better

Coming into true adulthood is a mixed bag of emotions. While the perks of bigger bank accounts, spaces to call our own, and the ability to appreciate really good wine are beautiful things, it's perfectly normal to find oneself nostalgic for simpler times. For most of us, gone are the good ol' days of few responsibilities, hangovers that magically vanish in no time at all, and living off 5-for-a-buck packages of instant ramen. And while we can't do anything about the hangovers (sorry), we can give that familiar little orange package an adult upgrade.

Now that your kitchen (hopefully) consists of more than a greasy microwave shared with five other students, it's time to view instant ramen as the insanely convenient, perfectly delicious ingredient it is. For the most part, we've outgrown the version that's simply boiled to death then sprinkled with a packet of delicious MSG magic (though we won't lie — this dish still slaps at 2 am after a long night). So how do we turn this coming-of-age staple into fare fit for grown-ups?

Read more
Of course there’s a turkey shortage — here’s what it means for your Thanksgiving dinner
Wait, there's a turkey shortage? Yes, and it comes at an unfortunate time of the year
Turkey being carved on a cutting board.

Aren't supply chain issues fun? First, the bottleneck came for your Champagne and Sriracha. Now, it's coming for your Thanksgiving turkey.

It's expensive out there, we know. Thanks to a global health crisis and economic recession, even a loaf of bread is far from cheap these days. That's why we're trying to set you up with helpful advice on grocery shopping and the like so you can navigate the new normal.

Read more
This chef will completely change your perspective about food
You don't love food like Massimo Bottura does—but you can after observing his remarkable ways
Chef Massimo Bottura in his restaurant.

Massimo Bottura might be the most convincing chef on the planet. His combination of big personality, post-modern Italian cuisine, and absolute love of all things delicious makes him truly special, even within the crowded confines of the culinary landscape. If you don't love food already, Botura will change all of that.

The Italian chef is most widely known for his work at Osteria Francescana, a Three-Star Michelin restaurant named best in the world several times over. It's based in Modena, an Italian city with tons of gastronomical history and that's known for its vinegar and exceptional cheese. Bottura says it best: “In my blood, there’s balsamic vinegar, and my muscles are made by parmesano reggiano.”

Read more