Although steaming is an ancient form of cooking, it’s rarely used outside of Chinese cooking. This needn’t be the case, however, since steaming is easy, one of the most healthy ways of cooking, and provides delicious, nutritious meals.
Steam Cooking Basics
To properly steam food, all that’s needed is a wok (an Asian pot that’s widely available at cooking stores) or a Dutch oven with a domed lid and a steamer rack. Water and food are added to the pot, and a lid is placed over the whole. As heat is created under the pot, the water turns to steam, cooking the food.
The Right Amount of Water
The biggest mistake beginners make when learning to steam cook is using too much or too little water. Too little water results in burnt and sometimes undercooked food, while too much water creates a soggy mess.
To prevent either of these problems, add water to the pot, leaving just 1 inch of empty space between the water and the bottom of the steamer rack.
How to Steam Cook
1. Verify the food is large enough it won’t slip through the bars of the steamer rack. If it might fall through the rack, cover the rack with aluminum foil. Punch holes in the foil with a fork.
2. Add water to the bottom of the pot.
3. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil.
4. Once the water is boiling, lay the seasoned and prepared food on the steamer rack. If the recipe calls for covering the food with aluminum foil, do so. If the recipe calls for placing a dish on the steamer rack, it must be heat proof and at least an inch smaller than the diameter of the rack itself.
5. Place a well-fitting lid on the pot. Little to no steam should escape once the lid is in place.
6. Occasionally check the water level in the pot by carefully removing the lid so it’s tilted toward you and the steam escapes in the opposite direction. Add more water if what’s in the pot is in danger of boiling away. Do not open the lid of the pot any more than is necessary, however, or you’ll significantly slow the cooking.
Want to see a different cooking technique, or recipes for a specific diet choice? See all the gourmet recipes and recipe videos at GourmetRecipe.com.
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