It may seem like sous vide vegan cooking wouldn’t be a thing, but let our vegan sous vide recipes change your mind! (Along with our two sous vide tips!) Take this sous vide coconut amino Asian tofu recipe for example. Sous vide cooking tofu allows it to absorb and be infused with incredible flavor, and yet it is the easiest way of all to cook tofu, because you set it and forget it! And you can even make sous vide rice at the same time so that when your tofu is done your rice will be ready too, and you can pour the yummy sauce from your tofu over the rice!
For those of you not familiar with sous vide cooking, the concept is pretty simple: you vacuum seal your food (‘sous vide’ literally means “under vacuum” in French) in either a vacuum-sealed bag or vacuum-sealed canning jar, and then you submerge it in a hot water bath which is kept at a constant temperature. With this setup your food is slowly cooked with constant heat and with no chance of burning, and no chance of your food being diluted or changed by contact with water. Sous vide cooking is also slow cooking, which accounts for the incredible flavors that you get with sous vide cooking.
The way that you accomplish all this is with a sous vide device known as a ‘circulator’. The circulator heats the water and keeps it at a constant temperature for a set period of time. Some circulators are integrated with or come with a hot water bath container, however we use an immersion circulator that we can clip on the side of any large pot. In fact, the sous vide device that we use is made by the same company that makes one of our other favorite kitchen appliances: Instant Pot! This is the sous vide device that we use.
Don’t be confused by the Instant Pot name, you do not need an Instant Pot to use this sous vide device (although you can use it with your Instant Pot’s inner pot if you like), any large pot will do. As with any of the immersion sous vide devices, you just clip it to the side of the pot, plug it in, fill your pot with water, and then submerge the vacuum-sealed food into the water. Then you set the temperature and cooking time and walk away, the device does all the rest! (Although you do need to check on it from time to time to make sure that the water hasn’t evaporated below a certain level or the device will automatically shut off for the sake of safety; we find that we need to top the water off just once during a 4-hour cooking process.)
Before we get to the recipe, here are the two tips that we promised.
Tip #1: Let Gravity Be Your Friend!
When vacuum sealing in a bag to use in sous vide cooking, it helps to let gravity keep the liquid from getting to the top of the bag before you can seal it. We do this by moving our vacuum sealer to the very edge of the counter, and letting the bag hang over the side (supporting it because there’s only so much weight a vacuum sealer can hold!)
Let Gravity be Your Friend!
Now, you will still need to vacuum the air out of the bag by pulsing it, rather than just turning the vacuum sealer on, as otherwise it will still suck the liquid right up out of the bag. If your vacuum seal doesn’t have a pulse button, then just turn the sealer on and off in rapid succession. Either way, manually hit the ‘seal’ button when you’ve drawn out as much air as you can.
Alternatively, if you have the adapter for canning jars, you can vacuum seal the food you are going to sous vide in a canning jar. In large part which way you choose to go will depend on what it is that you are going to cook.
Sous Vide in a Canning Jar
Tip #2: Magnets!
In order to help keep your vacuum-sealed food fully submerged, and to keep it from floating all around the pot, affix two magnets to the bottom of the bag – put one on either side of the bottom flap, and they will snap together. Be sure to use uncoated magnets, as you don’t want a plastic or rubber coating to melt off in the water!
Magnets on the Bottom of the Sous Vide Vacuum-Sealed Bag
Bottom View with Magnet on Each Side
Here’s the recipe!
Sous Vide Vegan Asian Tofu with Coconut Aminos
1 package tofu (ideally the refrigerated kind as it presses better, we use the House Foods brand tofu from Costco, which is perfect for this)
1/4 cup coconut aminos (some brands are sweeter than others, choose based on your preference – we like the Big Tree Farms coconut aminos from Costco)
1/4 cup peanut oil, sesame oil, toasted sesame oil, or neutral vegetable oil (based on preference)
1 Tablespoon chili paste (we use Huy Fong Sambal Oelek chili paste)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar or other mild vinegar
Press your tofu (you don’t have to do this but it makes it much better) while preparing the sauce.
Whisk all of the liquid ingredients together and set aside.
Remove your tofu from the press (if you’re pressing it, again you don’t have to), and cut into cubes approximately one-inch in size.
Put your tofu into your sous vide bag or canning jar. Whisk the sauce one last time and pour over the tofu.
Seal the bag or jar, set into the water bath, and cook at 180° for 4 hours.
When the time is up, remove from the water bath (carefully, it’s really hot, and if you used the magnet trick they are really hot), open, and spoon out the tofu.
At this point you can serve the tofu as is, or you can put the tofu pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in an air fryer, to crisp up the outside of the tofu. If baking, bake for about 15 minutes in a 400° oven. If air frying, air fry at 375° for 7 minutes, then shake and turn the pieces over, and air fry for another 7 minutes. In either case these times are approximate, keep an eye on it because it can go from done to over done in the blink of an eye.
Either way, when you are ready to serve your delicious tofu, pour the sauce over it, either on its own or on a bed rice. (Next up will be our recipe for how to make sous vide rice! :~) )
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