Asian Online Recipes (Cooking Guide)
Asian Online Recipes -Cooking Guide

How to Steam Foods?

How to Steam Foods?

  1. Assemble all ingredients and preparations for steaming -

    • Main ingredients

    • Steaming liquid

    • Additional or optional items for flavoring, finishing, and garnishing

    • Sauce or items necessary to prepare sauce

    Items to be steamed should be naturally tender and of a size and shape that will allow them to cook in a short amount of time. Cut the main item into the appropriate size, if necessary. Fish is generally made into fillets, though there are some classic presentations of whole steamed fish. Poultry breast is often made into a boneless skinless piece. Vegetables and fruits should be handled appropriately. Remove tough skins that could slow down cooking. Cut them into even, regular shapes, so that they will all finish cooking at the same time. Leave shellfish in the shells, unless otherwise indicated.

    Relatively few grains are appropriate for steaming, although two exceptions come to mind. Couscous, not a true grain, is often steamed over a flavorful stew, or prepared on its own over simmering water. Short grain rice may also be steamed. The length of time required to steam raw rice is considerable, however.

    Any liquid may be used for steaming. Water is the most common. If you want to serve the steaming liquid as a flavorful broth along with the steamed food, you may prefer to select from other more highly flavored items: broths or stocks, wine, beer or court bouillon. Adding aromatic ingredients to the liquid will also boost the flavor of the liquid, as well as adding flavor to the food being steamed. Herbs, spices, citrus rind, or ginger root, garlic, or mushrooms could be added.

    Stuffing or fillings, marinades or wrappers can all be used in preparing steamed foods.


  2. Assemble all equipments necessary for cooking and serving -

    • Steamer, steamer insert, or other equipment for steaming

    • Steamer racks, pans or inserts

    • Tongs, spoons and spatulas

    • Serving pieces

    The quantity of food being steamed will guide you to the correct equipment. Small amounts of food can be steamed using a small insert. Larger quantities, or foods that require different cooking times, are better prepared in tiered steamers. Remember that it is important to allow enough room for steam to circulate completely around foods as they cook. This will encourage even and rapid cooking.

    Convection or pressure steamers are good choices for steaming large quantities of foods. They allow the chef to have steamed foods prepared in appropriate batch sizes throughout a meal period, or to handle the more intense demands of a banquet or institutional feeding situation.

    In addition to steamers, you will also need to have on hand the necessary tools for handling foods, transferring them from the steamer to serving pieces, containers to hold sauces, spoons, ladles and other serving utensils.


  1. Bring the liquid to a full boil in a covered vessels.

    Add enough liquid to the bottom of the steamer to last throughout cooking. Each time you need to add more liquid to the pot, you will lower the cooking temperature, and affect the overall time necessary to prepare steamed foods. If you need to open the lid during cooking time, remember to tilt the lid away from your face and hands, so the steam will not burn you.

  2. Add the main item to the steamer on a rack in a single layer.

    To ensure even cooking, foods should be placed in a single layer, not touching one another, so that the steam can circulate completely. Foods may be placed on plates or in shallow dishes on the rack in order to collect any juices that might escape.

  3. Replace the lid and allow the steam to build up again.

    It is a good idea to adjust the heat to maintain even, moderate cooking speed. Liquids do not need to be at a rolling boil in order to produce steam. Rapid boiling may cause the liquid to cook away too quickly. Once the food is in the steamer and the cover has been replaced, avoid removing the lid unnecessarily. The drop in temperature can be significant. This makes it a little more difficult to gauge how long foods need to cook, so it may be a good idea to refer to some standard cooking times. Most recipes will include some information about how long specific foods take to steam to the correct doneness. Still, it is important to check the foods, starting at the earliest point at which they might be done.

  4. Steam the main item to the correct doneness.

    Steamed foods should be cooked until they are just done. Since steaming is used as a preliminary cooking technique in many cases, remember to stop cooking earlier for par-cooked foods. Foods that are to be pureed once steamed should be cooked until they are easy to pierce with a kitchen fork or paring knife, so they will mash easily. In general, check steamed foods for doneness, taking texture, color, consistency, shape and aroma into account.

  5. Serve the food immediately on heated plates with an appropriate sauce, as desired or as indicated but the recipe.


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