Methods Of Steaming

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Many vegetables are ideal for steaming, as is tofu and many types of pulses. The steaming process enhances the vibrant colours of food.

Methods Of Steaming

Steamer Baskets

The simplest way to steam food is to place a steamer basket in a saucepan over about 5-10cm of boiling water. Place your seasoned food to be steamed in the basket (either directly or on a pate) and cover it with a lid. Most foods will finish cooking anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes, depending what you’re cooking.

Chinese bamboo steamers are ideal, but the metal ones are just as easy to use. With metal steamers, simply spray the base with cooking oil spray to ensure your food doesn’t stick. Both types can be placed in a wok or over a pot they fit tightly. Bamboo steamers come in a range of sizes and are great for cooking for dim sum items like steamed buns, wontons and dumplings. Make sure to clean your bamboo steamer well and let it air dry to avoid any mould growth on the wood. When steaming in bamboo, you may need to lay some baking paper at the base to stop your dumplings or other food getting stuck. It is important that the bottom of the steamer basket does not touch the simmering water; this add too much moisture to the cooked item.

Microwave steaming

You can steam food in the microwave, which is actually a perfect 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 a little 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. You can also buy a steamer basket made just for the microwave, or a use a tupperware container with an opening in the lid.

En Papillote (Paper Bag/Packet)

Baking paper makes for an attractive presentation when cooking food ‘en papillote’, plus the silicone coating resists sticking and leaking. Using aluminium foil on the other hand, makes it much easier to create a tight seal. We find using a combination of both works really well. Place a layer of parchment paper inside your layer of foil before adding in the ingredients to be steamed. Once everything is wrapped up, ensure all edges are firmly shut to trap the steam when cooking. The packet is then heated in an oven or on a grill so that the food inside cooks in its own steam. Banana or lotus leaves also work a treat, while adding a visual appeal and beautiful fragrance. Do not use wax paper or plain brown paper, they can leak and burn. The en papillote method is frequently used for vegetables in combination with added liquid and aromatics.

Steam Ovens

Some modern ovens now also offer a dedicated steam function. The function is an extremely fast and energy-efficient method of cooking, and ideal for foods such as vegetables, tofu, dumplings and even rice. Specific settings for different foods are often included. It is also used to re-heat foods, maintaining moisture.

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