Hong Kong likes things fast. Express orders, rush jobs, fast tracks and even speed dating are the clichés of busy city life. And the pace doesn’t slacken at mealtimes: Our food is flash fried, nuked, and gobbled on the run. Six out of ten of us will eat fast food today – the highest percentage in the world. Cooking foods in slow anaerobic environments is nothing new. The Scottish have been using pig’s bladders as food packets for centuries. Hawaiians bury their pigs in hot sand all day to bake. And in modern life, it has been used as a hygienic way of prepping evergreen meals for airlines, packaging disaster relief feedings and catering to the wedding banquet masses. But sous vide takes everything a little further. It was born (slowly, of course) in 1974. Chef George Pralus (of three Michelin star restaurant Troisgros, in Roanne, France) was looking for a way to cook foie gras without losing too much mass during cooking. He started experimenting with water bath machines, precisely heated water and massive cooking times. Now some of Hong Kong’s culinary creatives are getting in on the act. Innovator Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation does a nice suckling pig with this technique. He finds that by cooking the meat thoroughly, then crackling the skin, rids it of the raw pig odors and leaves the meat incredibly tender. “Nobody wants to eat it too rare purely because it is dangerous to do so,” he says. People like their chicken and pork dishes cooked all the way through, but sometimes “well done” can mean dry if not done properly. Sous vide makes cooking meats almost foolproof. But it does take a long time, a perfectly cooked leg of lamb can take anywhere from 17 hours to 2 days at a low temperature to cook. “When it comes down to picking something up from the deli counter or cooking for hours, most of the time the deli counter wins,” says Leung. “[Sous vide] is not for the home cook.” Oh, and deadly botulinum bacteria can grow if you go below 52C. Executive chef Marco Avitabile, of Grand Hyatt Hong Kong was a sous chef at Troisgros, the birthplace of sous vide and says it is an essential in today’s hotel business. “It’s the most reliable way to do big catering in the most hygienic way,” he says. To feed 500 eaters braised veal shank as a main would take an army in the kitchen, but with sous vide, take about 10 line cooks. “The best part is, since the machine does most of the work, the first dish will come out exactly like the 500th.” Now Hong Kong culinary creatives like Joel Robuchon of L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, are embracing this method to produce some of the most innovative dishes in modern kitchens. Take, for example, watermelon cubes compressed of air and cooked at a low-low temperature for hours. The result is a block of concentrated watermelon with the texture of meat. Then there’s soft short ribs with truffle essence braised for 72 hours at exacting temperatures that falls apart when plated, or a coq stew that is trapped and steamed repeatedly for two days in its own juices. Or slow cooked pig’s head. Vegetables cooked this way will not lose their flavor or vitamins to the water it is cooked in. Eggs cooked this way at 64.5C degrees for 45 minutes produces egg whites at the exact same temperature as the yolk, which until now hardly anyone has experienced. All this is great if you have no plans for the week. If you want to go out and try a sous vide prepared meal, well you probably have already as the majority of hotels and restaurants use it. It’s just never been so romantic to cook out of a plastic bag.