The Best Way To Sear Your Sous Vide Food

The sous vide cooking process is excellent for creating tender food. But when you don’t want that tender food to reflect your outside, you must sear it. But do you sear before or after sous vide cooking?

Typically, you’ll want to sear before because it helps to lock in the flavor. However, post-searing is a step you can take if you want to give your food an extra crisp.

Regardless of either choice, the searing process can be done in multiple ways. We will discuss those ways here and teach you a step-by-step process for pan searing. 

What is Searing?

Searing is the process of crisping the outside of your food by exposing it to high heat. The higher temperature is typically done on a pan, but you can also do it with a torch or grill. 

When doing sous vide steaks, searing is an essential part of the cooking process. The browning of the surface of the meat is known as the Maillard reaction. 

While the Maillard reaction is bad for dairy, it is much better for steak or bread.  

What are Different Methods for Searing?

Different methods of searing include pan, torch, or griddle searing. 

What is Pan Searing?

Pan searing is when you use a standard pan and stovetop to sear your meat. The pan can be made of any material but typically is either stainless steel or a cast-iron skillet. 

Pan searing is typically the most popular, as it is the most accessible cooking method.

What is Torch Searing?

Torch searing is the process of taking a cooking torch to your sous vide food. This is typically less appealing than using a pan or grill because it involves holding a torch to the food surface for quite a while. 

The high heat of a torch is suitable for this purpose but doesn’t result in an even sear.

What is Griddle/Grill Searing?

Grill searing is the same as pan searing, only on a grill surface. It’s the most appealing option of the three because griddles are typically best at even heating. 

Griddle cooking also involves placing grill marks behind, which are great at creating the perfect sear. 

A Step-By-Step Process for Pan Searing Meat 

Searing meat

Knowing that pan searing is likely going to be your best bet, here’s a quick process for how you can get a good sear on your sous vide cooking. 

Step One: Preheat the Pan 

Your first step is to make sure the pan is set to the right temperature. You’ll need a high temperature that is typically around 300 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You can set the exact temperature to anything you want. If you want the best results, set it to 300 with about five minutes on either side. 

Step Two: Pull The Meat From the Pot

The first step of getting that perfectly cooked sous vide steak is removing it from the pot. You will want to use tongs for this, as the surface of your meat will likely be hot. 

You’ll quickly want to transfer it over to the pan. You’ll want to place cooking oil down as it’s heating up. Ideally, you’ll want to put it down before the oil reaches its smoke point. 

Smoke points typically happen at 400 degrees, but butter and coconut oil have lower smoke points. That’s why you’ll want to stick to relatively lower temperatures, as going beyond the smoke point will give your food a bitter taste from the oil. 

Step Three: Let the Meat Rest

Whenever you are done searing or cooking meat, you’ll always want to give time for the meat to rest. Resting time enables the juices of your meat to settle. 

If the food is greasy, place it on a plate with paper towels underneath it to absorb any grease. If you plan on storing the food, move it to an ice bath quickly so you can get it out of the temperature danger zones. 

Once the meat is given about five or ten minutes to cool down, you can plate it. At this point, you’ll know that you have a perfect sear from the flavor of the meat. If it tastes bitter, that means you’ve likely hit the smoke point. 

Final Thoughts

Alternatively, you can always choose alternate methods to searing. Deep frying is another option, but you’ll need to be sure the surface of your food is patted dry beforehand. Still, nothing beats the excellent taste of a perfect sear. 

If you are looking for more sous vide tips, check out our article on how you can use an instant pot to sous vide. Thanks for reading!

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