Sous-Vide technique keeps the meat tender and juicy without burning the outside.
Some people love their meat well done, but even more people love their meat juicy and tender. Right cooking process will allow meat lovers to taste the quality of meat.
Cooking meat to desired texture requires various cooking technique, form simple one like grilling with controlled heat to cook with high-pressured cooker. There is also one sophisticated way to cook meat until it is silkier than silk: sous-vide.
Sous-vide cooking involves heating ingredients inside airtight plastic bag. Medium to transfer heat to the ingredients is water with low temperature, usually 55-60oC. With that low heat, food can be slow-cooked in a long time – even more than two days for some food – without getting overcooked. This technique is well known for its ability to keep ingredients juicy and tender in the insides without sacrificing the outside texture.
Invented by an English physicist Sir Benjamin Thompson in 18th century, sous-vide technique was later discovered by French chefs in mid-1960. Once popular at France and then at Europe, now the cooking method has been used in many high-end restaurants around the world.
Although invented by Europeans, it does not mean that this cooking technique is only suitable for Western cooking. This method can also be adapted into Asian cuisine, including Indonesian cuisine. Degan Septoadji, ex-Masterchef judge, also use this cooking technique to cook meat at his restaurants.
“It allows me to cook without worrying about the texture of the meat,” said Degan.
On cooking meat with sous vide, Degan tends to choose the chewier meat such as short ribs and back ribs. He also cooks steak cuts such as tenderloin and strip loin, but the cooking time will be adjusted according to the type of meat.
“I usually cook ribs in sous vide machine for 12 hours. For steak, the cooking time will be shorter,” said the Balinese chef.
Degan who has more than 30 years experiences in F&B business explained that although this cooking method allows a person to cook easier, it does not very applicable for cooking in very small scale. The reason is the cooking technique requires a long time so that it will not be economical and also energy-consuming. Sous-vide cooking is actually more suitable for cooking in restaurants with middle to bigger scale.
One thing that should be noted is the marinade seasoning. When it comes to meat seasoning, most Indonesians will prefer fresh ingredients. However, cooking with low temperature can be risky as bacteria can grow in the wet rub.
“To prevent the bacteria, we have to cook the seasoning before marinate the meat,” stated Degan.
This step is very crucial in sous vide cooking for Indonesian food. Otherwise, the wet rub can be spoiled and ruin all the cooking process. Sisca Soewitomo, a food expert and cookbook writer seems to agree with what Degan has said.
“Sautéing wet seasoning eliminates mucus or secretion that comes from some ingredients such as shallots and garlics. It also helps developing the flavor,” said Sisca.
The marinade process can be done for one to two days in the chiller. After that, the meat can go straight into the sous vide machine.
“When the meat is done, you can serve them to the diners and let them enjoy the reddish juicy meat. You can also caramelize it by grilling them with mixed kecap manis seasoning for more Indonesian kick,” said Degan in the end of the interview.