To cook in steam by suspending foods over
(not in) boiling water, in a covered pot or steamer. The method is simple.
A small amount of water (sometimes scented with fresh herbs or aromatic
vegetables) is brought to a rapid boil in the bottom of the steamer over a
high heat. The food to be steamed is placed inside the perforated steamer
compartment, the steamer is covered, and the food is cooked by the heat of
the steam. Steaming is a popular method for vegetables and seafood because
it cooks rapidly, allowing foods to retain color and nutrients. When
cooking with steam, be sure to let the steam dissipate before you reach
into the steamer.
There are several different types of
steamers on the market -
The smallest and least expensive is the
collapsible metal steamer that folds out, fanlike, in the bottom of a
spot. These folding steamers are convenient for small amounts of
vegetables because they adjust to the size of the pot.
A second type of steamer is a perforated
metal insert shaped like a pot, with little feet and a handle. The steamer
is place inside a larger pot.
Chinese bamboo steamers fit on top of a pot
or in a wok above boiling water or other liquid. Because they are usually
fairly big and because they can be stacked, Chinese steamers are
convenient for steaming large amounts of foods and for steaming different
foods at once.
A couscousiere, designed for steaming
couscous, can be used to steam other foods as well. Couscousieres have a
bottom pot that is partially filled with boiling water and a second top
pot, with perforated bottom, that is set on the pot of boiling water and
holds the food. Couscousieres can be expensive and because they can also
be quite large, they are convenient for steaming seafood.
Lastly, you can improvise your own steamer
with a circular cake rack and three empty tuna cans with both ends
removed. Set the cans in the bottom of a pot with a lid, add the water and
set the rack on top.