How to Steam Cook

A steamer cooks food fast while maximizing its nutritional value. This article on how to steam cook outlines different methods and offers helpful tips to get you started.

Steam Cooking 101

Steaming food is one of the healthiest cooking techniques available for you and your family. It’s also very gentle on the food even though cooking occurs at a higher temperature than braising, stewing or poaching. The steam used for cooking is created when the water boils. Because the food is cooked at a constant temperature of 100°C and is not agitated by a bubbling liquid, it cooks more evenly and remains stationary. By introducing a steamer into your kitchen, the different steaming methods you use will open a whole new world of tasty recipes for you and your family.

Steaming vs. Pressure Cooking

Steaming and pressure cooking use the same steam properties to cook food. However, pressure cooking locks the steam inside the cooker at a higher pressure, whereas a traditional steamer allows some of the steam to escape. Pressure cooking allows you to cook a wide array of dishes such as soups, rice and beans. It can also be used to tenderize typically tougher cuts of meat.

The Health Benefits of Steam Cooking

Steaming is one of the healthiest cooking methods because it combines the benefits of conduction and convection cooking. No fat is used in the cooking process so your family is saved needless calories. Steaming prevents Vitamins B and C from leaching out, preserving up to 50% more nutrients overall than other cooking methods. Your meals will also be moist and tender since the food is constantly surrounded by vapour.

Steam Cooking Tools

There are a large range of steam cookers that take much of the guesswork out of cooking, allowing you to automatically set times for steam cooking based on the food that is being cooked. One of the simplest ways to steam cook is with a saucepan and a steamer basket. Bamboo steamers are great for Chinese Dim Sum meals. You can even use a double boiler with holes in the top pot to allow steam to flow inside.

Steps & Techniques

Steam Cooking on a Stovetop
If you don’t have a steamer you can still use a pot with a lid, and a basket to hold the food. Ensure the basket keeps the food from physically touching the water. Place a small amount of water in the pot and once boiling, place the food inside the basket and close the lid, allowing the steam to permeate the food.
Steam Cooking in a Microwave
Microwave ovens cook by stimulating the water molecules in food, so microwaving is actually a form of steaming. Steam vegetables in the microwave by sprinkling them with water or broth, then cover them tightly with plastic wrap that is microwave-safe. Cut two slits in the plastic wrap and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes for perfectly steamed vegetables.
Cooking with a Steam Cooker
Many of the steam cookers on the market today look like crock pots and slow cookers. They have ceramic inserts used to hold vegetables and meats in place. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the amount and types of liquid you can use, such as water, broth and wine. Note the different kinds of vegetables that can be placed in the cooker as well. Like with your slow cooker, you will discover new, inventive recipes for steam cooking.
Steam Cooking Steps:
  1. Add cooking liquid to a lidded pot with a wide bottom that provides a large surface area for the cooking liquid to boil
  2. Once boiling, place your food in the basket over the cooking fluid, ensuring it never touches the liquid, and cover
  3. Monitor your food’s cooking times. Most vegetables cook in 5 minutes or less, while meats and fish will take between 3 to 10 minutes to cook, depending on size and thickness

Steaming Vegetables

Because of their natural fibres most vegetables take very well to steam cooking. In many cases, foods such as broccoli and cauliflower can go soggy when simmered in water or other liquids. By steaming these vegetables, they will retain their crispness, as well as the nutrients that can leach out during boiling. Starchy vegetables and grains like potatoes and rice can be steamed too.

Steaming Fish

Steaming is one of the best ways to cook fish because it allows you to become creative with your cooking liquid. Steam fish with a broth, fish stock or wine to infuse flavours directly into the fish. Herbs and spices added to the cooking liquid can also enhance flavour, while the steam keeps the fish moist and juicy. Seafood is also great steamed, with mussels being the most popular offering. Make sure you save the broth for bread dipping.

Steaming Chicken

Boneless chicken breasts or small whole birds like Cornish hens are great for steaming as they retain the flavour, tenderness and the moisture of the steam. Also, no additional fat is transferred through cooking, unlike the extra calories added by pan or deep frying. Chicken can be steamed in a single layer in the steamer’s basket, cooking for 8-10 minutes or until an internal temperature of 74C is reached. Use the remaining water or fluid used for cooking to create a sauce to serve with the chicken.

Adding Additional Flavour

Don’t undo the benefits of steam cooking by topping your food with high-calorie sauces. You can infuse your food with additional flavour by being inventive with the cooking fluids. Chicken, beef or vegetable broth work well, and these can be further enhanced by wine or lemon juice. You can also flavour steamed foods with aromatics like dill and rosemary, or finish them with a quick drizzle of lemon juice, chopped garlic or freshly ground black pepper. For asparagus, try a combination of lemon and ground sesame seeds.

Steam Cooking Tips:

  1. Use Herbs and Aromatics: Increasing the flavour of your cooking fluid will increase the flavour of your food. Try seasonings such as bay leaves or thyme.
  2. Ensure Uniform Food Size: Keep smaller foods like baby carrots and brussel sprouts whole. Cut larger vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower into uniformly sized pieces for even cooking.
  3. Don’t Just Use Water: Flavour your water by mixing it with white wine or low-sodium broths like chicken or beef to allow some rich flavours to penetrate the food.
  4. Don’t Drown Your Food: Never allow food to touch or become immersed in water. Keep the fluid below the food and allow the steam to circulate. If the water boils off, you can add more during the cooking process.
  5. Flavour your Chicken and Fish: Marinate chicken or fish before steaming to add even more flavour. Also cut the top and bottom of chicken to allow more flavour to penetrate the meat.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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