Steaming food preserves the nutrients, vitamins and minerals, even the very heat-sensitive Vitamin C. Since you don’t use oil, it cuts back on fat. Some people find steamed food to be bland—but that’s because they don’t know these easy cooking secrets! There are special tricks that can help bring out the flavor of the food and retain its texture. Read this article and create fantastic steamed dishes each and every time.
Keep food moist during steaming: Wrap ingredients in wax paper, foil or heatproof containers so that it never comes in direct contact with the steam. If you have one of those tiered steamers, keep the food at least an inch above the hot water. This will prevent food from drying out during the steaming process.
Add flavoring to the liquid: You can season the cooking liquid so it infuses the food with flavor. Try adding a bouillon cube when you steam vegetables, or use stock when steaming fish. You can also add dry herbs and spices to the liquid, or rub them directly on the ingredients. For savory dishes try grated ginger, chili, cumin and coriander. For a touch of sweetness, use nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon. Many recipes for steamed food will give exact measurements for a delightful balance of flavors. You can follow them to the letter, and then make notes in your recipes to adjust to your taste. It’s best to measure ingredients when you steam, since you can’t keep tasting the food while it cooks.
Steam leaner, smaller cuts of meat: These will take less time to cook, so you don’t steam too long and dry them out. Use a meat mallet and a tenderizer, and trim off extra fat—these small steps will help keep meat moist and tender.
Steam only the best vegetables: Steaming tends to amplify the flavor of food, so any slight disintegration in the vegetables’ flavor will significantly affect the quality of the dish. Buy vegetables with smooth, unblemished skins and a robust color. When you make your meal plan, schedule any steamed dishes the same day or the day after your trip to the supermarket.
Cut ingredients carefully: The larger the piece, the longer it takes to cook. So if the vegetables take the same time to cook, then cut them into equal pieces. If one vegetable tends to cook faster, cut it in a bigger size.
Watch the water level when you steam: Keep an eye on the steamer’s fluid levels. It should be never exceed 2/3 fullness, but it shouldn’t drop below the recommended level of your steamer. If you need to replenish the water level, add boiling water to prevent sudden drops in temperature.
Don’t crowd your steamer: There should be enough space for the steam to circulate properly. If it’s too full, then the cooking will be uneven. It’s also better to arrange food in a single layer; if that’s not possible, adjust cooking time and pause halfway through cooking to “toss” the ingredients.
If your steamer allows you to cook in multiple layers, place meat and fish in the bottom tray so that it doesn’t drip on the rest of the food. Food that is placed in the topmost tiers must be given an extra 5 minutes of cooking time, because they are less exposed to the steam.