The 2 Best Sous Vide Appliances
Sous-vide cooking has been around technically for several hundred years though it’s resurgence with mainstream chefs came about in the mid-1900’s. Sous-vide, French for “under vacuum,” describes a method of cooking whereby food is sealed in a vacuum packed pouch and cooked in a water bath at low temperatures for long periods of time to ensure even cooking and retention of moisture. For example, we can pan-fry boneless chicken thighs, which can result in a good dish under the watchful eye of a good chef or experienced home cook, or we can sous-vide the same chicken thighs at a much lower temperature (around 60 degrees Celsius) for a few hours, resulting in incredibly juicy, tender chicken.
Admittedly, sous-vide cooking was once reserved for professional chefs with good reason- it takes a lot of time. However, in recent years, sous-vide appliances have been making their way into everyday kitchens of home cooks due to their ease of use, lower price and of course, multiple culinary and health benefits. I am personally a huge fan of sous-vide cooking and will share here how you can incorporate this simple technique into your daily cooking with ease and little actual time.
First, let’s introduce my 2 all-time favorite sous-vide appliances. One is a full-size countertop sous-vide appliance from Sous Vide Supreme and the other is a kind of hand-held appliance from Nomiku. These two appliances are very different in appearance, the way they work and price point but both have fantastic benefits.
This award winning sous-vide appliance is more traditional like those previously used by professional chefs in high end kitchens. If you have a small kitchen, unless you plan to do all your cooking sous-vide, this particular appliance is probably not for you. If like me, you have a decent sized or large kitchen with enough countertop space, this is the most convenient and best bang for your buck sous-vide appliance there is. Comparable in size to that of a bread maker, the Sous Vide Supreme is just under 12 inches in height and width, and 14 inches in length. There is a smaller version of this appliance, called the Demi, which compares in size to a crockpot.
With sous-vide cooking, we want a very even cooking temperature all around the water. This evenness is what contributes to the retention of moisture in whatever you’re cooking. Despite its somewhat large counter-top size, I absolutely adore Sous Vide Supreme because once you pour up to 11 liters of water, you’re good to go for many uses with relatively no clean-up. With a touch-pad display on the front, you simply set your desired temperature and wait for the appliance to heat the water up. You can also set a cooking timer. As with any sous-vide cooking, you’ll need to place your food in vacuum sealed pouches (which Sous Vide Supreme sells) before carefully dropping into the water bath.
What makes Sous Vide Supreme stand apart from its competitors is its complete silence. The only noise it produces is a long beep once the water has reached your desired temperature or when the cooking timer goes off. Made out of stainless steel (virtually zero clean-up except for the occasional wipe-down), Sous Vide Supreme has a patented design where heat rises from the edge to edge heating plate at its base. This technology creates an efficient thermal convection which ensures the consistent temperature throughout without the need to stir the water or your food pouches.
Sous Vide Supreme also comes with a stainless steel lid that traps steam and prevents evaporation- the very thing that causes food to dry out with conventional cooking methods. When flipped over, the lid also doubles as a tray to transport your food pouches from the appliance to wherever you need to take them.
The Sous Vide Supreme comes in 3 colors- stainless steel, red and black and starts at US $329.
On the other side of sous vide cooking appliances, we have Nomiku’s Immersion Cooker which despite its different name, pretty much accomplishes the same thing that any good sous vide appliance should do- create a consistent temperature in a water bath.
The major difference with Nomiku is its size and the way it functions. Just a little over a foot long or so, the Nomiku is a cylindrical shape, kind of like a very large, thick Chinese eggplant. It features a silicone clip on its side- you clip this appliance onto your cooking pot which is filled with water. You’ll see a minimum and maximum line on the Nomiku which will tell you how much to fill your pot with. This fits most average sized cooking pots though you could not use it on small pots.
Controlling the temperature is super simple here- you simply turn the knob (which is around the touch screen pad) to your desired temperature. The first time I used the Nomiku, I was surprised at how quickly the water came to temperature, from 0 degrees to 60 in just under 5 minutes for a medium sized pot. Nomiku’s technology circulates the water continuously with just a soft bubbling sound.
For those of you short on kitchen counter space, the Nomiku will be your sous vide appliance of choice. Again, like any other sous vide cooking, you must place your food in vacuum sealed pouches. The only thing you have to potentially be careful of with the Nomiku is that the pouches tend to bunch up around the bottom of the appliance so those that are closest to it seem to cook faster.
At US $199, the Nomiku is more affordable than other sous vide options and as of the time of this writing, is on back order for both its original and Wi-Fi options.
As to which sous-vide appliance you prefer, it really depends on personal preference, kitchen space and budget. The Sous Vide Supreme and Nomiku are both fantastic choices for any home cook who wants to incorporate this once exclusive cooking technique for healthy, everyday meals.
The old image of sous-vide cooking being for people who had copious amounts of time is really a fallacy. While the actual cooking time takes at least 1.5 hours for small pieces of fish and up to many more hours depending on what you’re cooking, it’s not as if you have to stand in the kitchen watching it or doing anything. All you have to do is marinate and prepare your food, seal it in the vacuum pouch and place it in the bath. Unlike stovetop or oven cooking, there’s almost no worry of overcooking or burning. There’s no worry about fires to deal with. The water heats up to a temperature that is low enough that you can even dip your finger in it without burning yourself.
Sous vide cooking really is as easy as taking a good piece of fish or chicken, drizzling some olive oil and dress it up with some garlic and herbs, seal it in the pouch and let the sous vide magic happen. You can significantly reduce the number of times you have to deal with nasty oil-spits on the stovetop or heating a big oven. And those of you who adore perfectly poached eggs, stay tuned for my upcoming recipe on how to sous vide eggs for a perfect and easy brunch!
Pictured Above- one of my favorite and easy chicken recipes of all time, Crispy Lime Chicken using sous vide technique.