“Sous vide”, or under vacuum, is a slow method of cooking in which ingredients are sealed in an airtight bag and soaked in water at a regulated temperature over an extended period of time.
This exquisite form of cooking has recently gained popularity and much sought after by customers at fine-dining restaurants.
However, “vacuum cooking” has been around for at least the past 20 years.
Sous vide is recognized as the best way to retain the essence of ingredients.
In other methods, much of the nutrients, juices and aroma of food are lost during the cooking process.
But I would say this is one of laziest ways of cooking food as it requires no culinary skills on the part of the chef.
In the world of western culinary arts, there are a lot of fascinating ways to cook food: baking, roasting, stir-frying, deep-frying, marinating, mixing, boiling, pan-frying, smoking, fondue (with melted cheese or oil), and so forth.
Meanwhile, there are 35 basic ways of cooking in Chinese cuisine, and each method has branched out into so many variations.
For example, there are many ways of frying: simple frying, frying with thick sauce, quick frying in hot oil, etc.
There is also such a thing as double-frying, which is a popular technique to make fried food crispier.
When it comes to braising, the method has produced Shanghai-style red braised pork belly and Hong Kong-style dry-braised e-fu noodles.
Examples of steamed dishes are general steamed fish or eggs, steamed spareribs with the addition of rice flour, and steamed tofu stuffed with minced pork or shrimps.
Two well-known roasting methods are roasting by charcoal fire and “bare” roasting in the oven, which doesn’t involve the use of aluminum foil to wrap the food and ingredients.
Marinating ingredients in salt or sauce adds flavor to the dishes, such as in the case of salted chicken and marinated cold crabs.
In a stew, food is briefly fried and then cooked in a pot of broth till it thickens. A famous example from Hong Kong would be beef brisket and tendon with turnip stew.
The Chinese often have vegetables pickled in salt or vinegar with sugar.
Rice wine is widely used in the kitchen to get ingredients “drunk” by immersion like in Shanghai drunken chicken.
In short, there is an inexhaustible list of cooking methods from the East and the West to bring out the best in food.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 14.
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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