Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, all the great gastronomists of the age are using the sous vide technique. On television, James Martin thinks nothing of dropping a piece of trout or lemon sole into the water bath on Saturday Morning Kitchen.
Meaning “under vacuum”, the technique involves vacuum-packing meat, fish or vegetables then immersing them in hot water (around 60°C). A thin fillet of fish or small piece of meat will cook in a few minutes. A brisket of beef might take 72 hours.
It keeps meat and fish incredibly moist and succulent, while vegetables leach none of their vitamins into the water and remain crunchy and firm.
The low temperature means that cell walls do not burst and when meat is cooked sous vide the potentially tough connective tissue is converted into gelatin. Meat is then finished on the plancha, a searingly hot griddle, to give it a succulent crusty edge.