Steaming with a Steamer

Steaming with a Steamer

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.

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