Why you should consider steaming

Why you should consider steaming?

Steaming involves boiling water continuously which causes the water to vaporize into steam.  The heat from the steam cooks the food.  Unlike boiling, the food being cooked is not submerged in water but is put above it, where it gets direct contact with the steam.  Steaming is one of the gentlest cooking methods which allows food to remain moist and retain its nutritional value.

The most popular steamed food is probably the Chinese Dim sum, where we see various varieties of dim sum cooking on a table steamer with one dish piled on top of one another through circular bamboo trays.  The Chinese Bamboo steamer still remains to be the most efficient way to steam food.  Using bamboo, which retains moisture, creates that perfect moist atmosphere for the food to cook in. 

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But actually, you can steam practically anything to cook it!  We want to share with you the joys of steaming!

Steaming with Benefits

We rarely see any chefs on TV steaming the food they dish out.  But that doesn’t mean that steaming is not a good way to cook food.   It maybe just because steaming food is pretty straight up, simple, no show or stirring, flipping, or sprinkling techniques.

Here are some benefits of steaming that may open your mind to trying it.

  • Convenience – you just leave it and come back for it.  Just like an oven.
  • No oil needed to cook – you don’t need oil to cook the food
  • Making fiber more soluble – steaming softens the fiber of vegetables making them easy to digest and easier for your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals it offers.
  • Foods retain their shape and texture – since food is cooked purely by steam, it remains pristine.
  • Time and cost efficient – if you have a multi-layer steamer or a bamboo steamer, you can cook many different kinds of dishes in one go.  One dish for each layer, so you can cook, appetizer, main course, and dessert in one go.
  • Keeps in the good stuff – since food is treated like a god on a pedestal, it retains its original gifts of vitamins and minerals which would have otherwise been lost in boiling, sautéing, frying, and other methods used.   And steam retains most of the flavor of food, when food is steamed it only loses 11% of flavor while for other methods like boiling it loses 66%.
  • Burn Proof – you practically cannot burn anything if it’s cooked using steaming. 

The Ways of the Steam

There are a few different ways to steam food.  Depending on what you have at home or what you’re cooking, feel free to choose the method you want to try.

Steaming with on Stovetop

You will need 2 pieces of kitchen equipment, a pot and steamer basket, there are other more modern steaming equipment that you just simply put on top of a deep pot or wok. 

You can also make a makeshift steamer.  Put the raw food on a heat proof plate. Make a ball out of aluminum foil inside the pot with water filled up to halfway of the ball.  Put a plate over the ball.  Then put the raw food (on a heat proof plate) on top of the plate, then cover the lid of the pot. 

Steaming with an Oven

Use two pans, one bigger and one smaller.  Follow the same method as steaming via microwave but cover it with foil instead. 

Steaming with a Microwave

  • Get 2 microwave safe bowls – one big one, and a smaller one. 
  • Place the raw food in the smaller bowl then place the smaller bowl with food inside the big bowl. 
  • Fill the big bowl with water until it reaches a third of the small bowl.
  • Cover the big bowl with a microwave safe plate. 
  • Put all of them on inside the microwave and press start. 
  • Follow the microwave manual on cooking time depending on the food cooked.  Please be careful when you take the plate off, you may get burned by the steam. 

What to Steam?

You can steam practically everything, even cake!  Here are some tips on steaming meats and vegetables.

How to steam fish

Here are some tips on steaming fish:

  • Let the fish thaw for 15 minutes before cooking time.
  • Make sure there are no more scales.
  • Score the body of the fish on both sides.
  • Standard cooking time for 600 grams of fish.  The bigger the fish, the longer the cooking time.

Here’s a recipe for Steamed fish with Ginger, scallions, and Soy from epicurous.com

How to Steam beef?

Here are some reminders with cooking beef:

It takes a longer time to steam beef approximately 60 to 90 minutes.  The ideal steam temperature is 210 degrees F.  Keep turning and checking the beef for tenderness.

Here’s a recipe for steam beef in oyster sauce from Yummy.ph.

How to steam pork?

Some tips for cooking pork:

  • It takes about 15 to 30 minutes to cook pork depending on the cut.
  • It should reach a temperature of 160 degrees F.

Try this classic Steamed Pork Ribs recipe from Yummly.com

How to steam vegetables?

Here are some tips on steaming your veggies:

  • Cut them into uniform sizes
  • Mix together veggies that have the same cooking time.  Put in longer cooking veggies first and faster cooking veggies last.
  • Standard steam time for veggies:
    • Spinach, Arugula, and peas : 3 minutes
    • Broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans : 5 to 7 minutes
    • Carrots, Potatoes and similar veggies : 8 to 20 minutes

You can steam vegetables straight without adding anything or you can also try these tips from SoDelicious.recipes on how to add flavor.

Get Steaming!

Steaming is a good way to eat healthy and it’s not actually hard.  You get the natural flavors of the meat or vegetables and most of its nutrients too.  If you end up falling in love with it, you can buy steaming equipment to make steaming even easier for you.

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