Reverse sear — courtesy of the barbecue community

Sous-vide is unbeatable for bringing meat and fish up to the perfect core temperature. Unfortunately, that usually does nothing for the outside of the food. If you want a crisp crust, or grilled entrée, then you need to combine it with some type of grilling or searing. The big question is whether to create the crust (with searing or grilling) first, and then sous-vide, or do it the other way around.

Fortunately for all of us, barbecue gurus and food scientists Meathead & Dr. Blonder at have helped us solve this riddle. Since BBQ fanatics have a similar quandary (sear or smoke first), they did the science and came up with a hard-to-question conclusion that searing second (aka “reverse sear”) is the indisputable winner.

Since reading that, I’ve adopted the reverse sear for my sous-vide dishes (short ribs, steaks, chicken, and fish) and have never looked back. There is one wrinkle to the process that is unique to sous-vide. Because dishes cooked with s.v. are by definition moist, and sears work best on a dry surface, it is a good idea for fish or chicken to pat the surface dry after the food comes out of the thermal bath, to help the sear work better.

Let me know your results, or if you’ve found a different solution for combining sous-vide with searing & grilling!

February 8, 2015. Tags: , . Education & Resources, Technique. Leave a comment.