- Food and Cooking
Steaming Recipe Ideas
Health Benefits of Steaming Foods
Looking for a way to cut calories and fat? Try some of these great steaming ideas.
You'd be surprised at the flavor your foods will retain. You'll also reap the added benefit of them being better for you.
Many cultures have been aware of this method of cooking for centuries. There is much to be said for this culinary technique.
To name a few of the high points:
- No fat is used in this cooking method
- It's relatively fast
- Cleanup is usually a breeze
- Aromas are those from the food not oil and grease
- Foods generally retain their natural color
- You can cook just about anything by this method
- Steaming preserves the flavor of the food being cooked
- The food retains its original shape and texture
- Much of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients are left intact and not destroyed as in other cooking methods
- It can be done in a variety of different ways and most are extremely inexpensive, even over a camp stove
What Kinds of Foods Can You Steam?
Just about the sky's the limit when it comes to steaming. The only limitation you might encounter is the size of the pan or steaming unit that you have.
Adjusting for that, you can steam any of these things and have fantastic results.
- Whole fish, fish steaks and fillets
- Chickens/small birds such as duck or rock hens--larger birds need larger pans
- Meats--though more tender cuts of meat steam better
- Rice and other grains
- Pastries and rolls
- Specialty foods like tamales
Just about anything that you can think of in terms of a recipe can probably be steamed. An additional attribute of steaming food is that the foods are more likely to not be mushy or fall apart when you remove them from the steamer.
That being said, it's most important when steaming to remember to watch your foods carefully and remove them as soon as they're done. Overcooking can be done with any method of food preparation.
How to Steam Foods
You can use any of the following ways to steam food. Each method is unique in its own way. Keep in mind how big the food item itself is when picking a method.
- Electric steamers--I have several of these and find that they work great for vegetables and things like rice
- Steamer baskets or steamer racks--these can be placed in any pan with a lid on top of the pan and can do many different sizes and types of food
- Woks--many people use these in conjunction with bamboo steamers or alone--again the wok has to have a lid and the water should never come in contact with the food, glass plate or bamboo steamer--use a steamer basket or steamer rack
- Steamer pots--these have a pan with holes (like a colander) that the steam goes through and sits in a bigger pot where the boiling water goes--put on the lid and steam away
- Bamboo steamers--made of bamboo, these are used in presentation as well as cooking and sit inside another pan while steaming the food
- Glass dish, plate or even foil--you can steam food in just about anything including things like banana leaves--you simply put the food on the dish or plate or wrap in leaves or foil and place inside a larger pan with a lid. Remember to not let the food touch the water--the steam is doing the cooking
- Regular pots--using a steamer basket inside or a double boiler--either way works and costs nothing extra
- Microwave--you can even steam foods in the microwave--look for microwave steaming recipes
How to Steam Chicken and Broccoli
Great Recipe Ideas for Steaming
Try some of these fabulous recipe ideas using a steaming method that works for that food:
- Steamed Fish with Chili Sauce
- Poached Salmon Fillet (poaching is also another way to steam and you can buy all different sizes of pots)
- Steamed Glazed Carrots
- Mock Mashed Potatoes (Steamed Cauliflower)
- Steamed Eggs
- Steamed Corn on the Cob
- Sushi Rice
- Steamed Broccoli with Almonds
- Steamed Applesauce or Apple Chunks
- Garlic Lime Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa
- Oriental Green Beans
- Bacon Parmesan Brussel Sprouts
- Steamed Mexican Tamales
- Steamed Chocolate Pudding
- Steamed Green Cabbage
You can also cook frozen foods in a steamer such as dumplings and dim sum. Or frozen veggies--it's quicker and keeps you from having to boil them.
Steaming Versus Boiling Foods
Steaming foods allows the cook to avoid overcooking or burning foods.
You can add salt, vegetables or herbs and spices to the steaming liquid to flavor foods and eliminate the use of oils and fats.
The most affected nutrients in cooking vegetables are folic acid and vitamin C--as compared to their raw state.
Steaming reduces folic acid by 15% while boiling reduces it by 35%.
Steaming reduces vitamin C by 15% whereas boiling reduces it by 25%.
Phenolic compounds, which contain antioxidant properties and promote good health, are found to be significantly retained by steaming foods compared to microwaving or boiling them.
Other nutrients are reduced by about the same percentage whether steaming or boiling.
Remember that the steam is doing the cooking, not the water. You need a relatively small amount of water (brought to a boil before putting food in) to steam anything. Just make sure to replenish the water should it run out/boil away and never let the food touch the water.
Insert a knife into the fattest part of the food item to check for doneness. It should just give way but not be soggy or break apart. It should be moist and tender on the outside and crisp tender or tender on the inside.
Steaming meats, poultry and fish helps them to retain their shape and flavor with the added benefit that they won't turn out tough and stringy.
For foods that are moist and delicious in taste and texture, give steaming a try.