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How To Steam: Some Tips And What Steaming Is All About!

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Steaming or moist-heat cooking technique -- what is it? what foods can you steam? The basics you need to know about steaming, you can read it here!

What is Steaming? 

Steaming is basically a cooking method that employs hot steam to conduct the heat to the food through a boiling liquid, leaving us with tender, moist results—when done correctly. This moist-heat cooking technique can be used for eggs, meat, and more and is commonly used in cooking Chinese recipes.

Steaming is always compared to broiling but I say it's better since this technique doesn't involve cooking the food directly unlike broiling where you need to boil it. It cooks slowly through a hot steam which makes it best for cooking seafoods too. Nutrients in the foods aren't lost too when you cook this way.

Steaming With Stovetop

Steaming can be done on a stovetop with two simple pieces of equipment: a pot and a steamer basket. The pot is filled with a small amount of liquid that is brought to a simmer; the item to be cooked is placed in a basket suspended above the liquid, and the pot is then covered. The hot steam circulates through the pot and cooks the food very quickly. This technique is known as "compartment steaming. -- The bamboo steamers used in Asian cuisine are an example of a compartment steamer.

A TIP: It is important that the bottom of the steamer basket does not touch the simmering water; this would add too much moisture to the vegetables and would not steam them correctly.

Steaming With Microwave

You can also steam food in the microwave, which is actually a natural piece of equipment for steaming since it "excites the liquids in food." You can create your own steaming system by placing the food in a microwave-safe dish, sprinkling it with water or other liquid, and covering with plastic wrap with a few holes poked into it. Cook for just a few minutes and you will be rewarded with perfectly steamed food.

A TIP: You can also buy a steamer basket made just for the microwave if you find yourself using this method often.

How to Steam Vegetables

Until oven-roasting and grilling vegetables came into fashion, steaming was the primary way home cooks prepared their veggie side dishes. Too often, however, the vegetables were left as is after cooking, leaving them bland and flavorless. Or, worse, the vegetables were steamed for too long, resulting in a pile of tasteless, dark-colored mush.

But vegetables—including potatoes—benefit from being cooked with steam when done properly. Some vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower can turn soggy when simmered, so steaming is an excellent alternative cooking method. And steaming can be a good first step to cooking certain vegetables an alternative way; for example, steaming broccoli before adding to a quick-cooking stir-fry will assure they finish with a crisp-tender texture. And steaming potatoes before being sliced and placed on the grill will shorten their grilling time tremendously.

How to Steam Seafood (Fish, Mussels, and more)

Seafood is particularly well suited for steaming. With compartment steaming, the cooking liquid (usually a broth, stock, or wine to add flavor) along with aromatic herbs, are gently simmered, creating flavorful steam. The moist environment inside the steamer compartment helps keep the fish tender and juicy.

Seafood can also be steamed in its own juices. Mussels are frequently cooked in a large, covered pot with a very small amount of wine. As the pot heats up, the mussels cook in the steam created from their own juices, which then combines with the wine and other ingredients to create a flavorful sauce.

Special Steaming Technique: Cooking en Papillote

Another technique for cooking with steam is known as cooking en papillote ("in paper") or in packets. This method is frequently employed for cooking fish and involves enclosing the food in a pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil along with a little liquid (often wine) and perhaps lemon, herbs, and even thinly sliced vegetables. The packet is then heated—in an oven or on a grill—so that the food inside cooks in its own steam.  

 

VIDEO: Perfectly Smooth Steamed Egg Recipe

Steaming And Its Health Benefits 

Besides being a simple cooking method, steaming is also a healthy way to prepare food. Compared to most other cooking methods, steaming preserves up to 50 percent more nutrients in the foods, and doesn't require any fats when cooking. This makes steaming an ideal cooking technique when you are watching your calorie and fat intake. Just don't forget to season!