A Map of Sous Vide Cooking

Most of us begin the journey into sous vide cooking by memorizing a handful of time-and-temperature combinations that we prefer for particular proteins—a 135 °F / 57 °C steak, perhaps, or a 104 °F / 40 °C salmon. But when you’re ready to level up, it can be difficult to access time and temperature information for different types of dishes, and because there aren’t a ton of recipes for sous vide food out there yet, it’s not as simple as cranking up your oven to whatever temperature Epicurious dictates.

Creating your own recipes is even harder: Sous vide just hasn’t been around long enough for home cooks to have developed an intuition about what things cook at what temperatures. This problem also extends to people trying to serve two sous vide–cooked items in one meal—why do steaks cook at 135 °F / 57 °C, when asparagus cooks at 185 °F / 85 °C, and how do you deal with that difference when you’re trying to put both things on the table at 7 o’clock?

These are conundrums we think about every day at ChefSteps. How do we help people adopt this revolutionary cooking method, when starting from scratch is so challenging? Here’s our crack at a solution—a Map of Sous Vide Cooking; a high-level view of most of the items you would want to cook in a water bath, and how the times and temperatures we cook them at relate to each other. Here, your 135 °F / 57 °C steak and 104 °F / 40 °C salmon are specific coordinates on the map, small cities that exist within countries where steaks and salmon can be prepared all kinds of ways.

Grouping foods by type allows us to visualize the Wide World of Sous Vide, where fish cook in cooler waters down south, while succulent braises can be found in the northeast, where cook times are longer. If it’s vegetables you want, head up north, where temperatures are highest. As you’ll see, there’s no one way to cook a steak, or salmon, or asparagus, just general times and temperatures that work. (And since steak and asparagus cook at such different temperatures and times, you really can’t successfully cook them simultaneously. The solution: Cook the steaks, then turn up the heat and cook the asparagus. Easy.)

Use this map when adapting traditional recipes for sous vide, and when experimenting with new ingredients. We hope this discovery will alter the way you think about sous vide—and cooking in general—forever. Bon voyage!

A Map of Sous Vide Cooking

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