The sous vide cooking method is exploding in popularity, for one very good reason: it makes perfectly cooked food, every time.

But, what is it you ask?

I can answer that question in three easy pieces:

1) The term “sous vide” is French for “under vacuum,” but . . .

2) . . . the technique is less complicated than its fancy name suggests, and . . .

3) . . . it involves vacuum-sealing food in a heavy plastic bag, then slowly cooking it under water at a relatively low and constant temperature.

2015-03-15-1426430800-2155530-sousvidestead.jpg Frequently featured on cooking shows and used in very high-end restaurants, sous vide has been embraced by top chefs worldwide as an ideal way to prepare, for example, the perfect steak: They sous vide it first, then finish it off on a super-hot grill for only 45 seconds or so on each side (not to cook it, just long enough to get those mouth-watering seared grill marks!).

Until a couple of years ago, however, sous-vide cooking was expensive, intimidating and difficult — not an option for most home cooks, even serious foodies. That all changed in 2013, when companies such as Anova and Sansaire came out with simpler sous vide equipment for under $200.

In this new episode from “The Best of Everything” — a weekly series you can watch on AARP’s YouTube Channel — I will show you how to prepare the perfect salmon, but you can also sous vide steak, chicken, vegetables and much more.

This isn’t the kitchen technique designed to get you out the door in a hurry, however. But, the flip side is, you can do a lot of other things while your meal is “sous viding.” For example, the best soft-boiled eggs I’ve ever eaten were prepared with the Anova, but it entailed cooking them at a constant 167° F. for a leisurely 13 minutes. So I set the table, did a few push-ups and called my mother — time well spent, no? 2015-03-15-1426444292-4239626-eggsusethis.jpg

Sous vide is also the perfect way to cook for one or two people, making it appealing to empty-nesters, and a great gift for kids who are starting out on their own: You can simply place a single steak or one piece of fish in a bag, and start the sous vide. A walk, a few push-ups or phone calls later, and you’re eating a restaurant-caliber dish!

For those of you who might fret about the use of plastic bags, here are two points to consider: 1) temperatures never get high enough to cause a health threat; and, 2) you can also purchase reusable silicone bags. See? There’s really no excuse not to sous vide, and lots of reasons why you should!

Have you tried this trend? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts (and recipes)!

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