The steaming method dates way back in human history and common standard cooking method in the East. It is a great cooking technique for your health because it retains the veggies’ nutrients.
Steaming vegetables is no longer extraordinary since this has been a cooking practice for most. This time-saving cooking method reduces your cooking time without having to compromise the nutrients that you’ll be getting from your veggies.
What is steaming? Steaming is placing your food above water to let it cook from the steam fog. You can also put it in any kitchenware that has a cover and that’s hot enough to produce steam to cook your food correctly.
Usually, when cooking veggies, high heat can lessen the nutrients locked in your vegetables. Moreover, they may have a higher count of calories and lesser flavor because of the mixture of oil and other variables.
You might think that steaming vegetables are limited to carrots and carrots because of their sturdiness and tendency to be less mushy. However, you may not know, but you can steam other vegetables too.
You’re able to cook dark leafy greens in minutes. You can steam them for 1-2 minutes, or lesser if you prefer, for the perfectly steamed veggies.
You can also steam winter squash, gourds, and pumpkins. Though they may seem a bit dull when steamed, however, the nutrients retained from this cooking method outweigh the dull-ness! You can steam these vegetables with meat for a flavorful experience.
If you’re only beginning to experiment with which vegetables to steam, you can opt to steam those vegetables that are easier to cook with this cooking technique. These foods are no wonder easy to cook through steaming because they’re pretty sturdy.
Cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, zucchini, and green beans are the best choices. You can steam baby bok choy, spinach, Chinese broccoli, and other leafy green veggies for lesser time consumption
Health benefits of steaming vegetables
Steaming in general poses a ton of benefits for your whole well-being. This is also good for those watching their weight because you’re not cooking your food with oil or any fatty ingredient.
The steaming method preserves the water in the food. Moreover, this can also lock in the vegetables’ nutritional properties, including the vitamins and minerals.
The color, texture, and flavor of the vegetables are also retained. However, this may not sound pleasing and luring for other people because I truly understand that not everyone likes that grassy and bland taste of veggies.
The simplest and quickest way to steam your vegetable is definitely by using your steamer. However, a steamer is not available in everyone’s kitchen. Thus, I have prepared some alternative methods you might want to try instead!
It is a traditionally known method. Some individuals may like this, but some may not because of the added dishes you have to clean afterward.
Remember that the general rule when steaming on stovetops is that you should always use a large pot with a steamer basket or a colander that will perfectly fit inside. Of course, you should not forget the lid!
Fill the pot with water that it barely touches the bottom of your basket or colander. In this way, you’ll have enough water without worrying about it and checking from time to time.
Once the water boils, you can now add your vegetables and place the lid in place. A loose-fitting cover is much better than a tight one. And if you have a tight-fitting over the colander, position it in a way that the side hangs over to let the steam escape.
Microwaves are no longer just for reheating your leftovers and for preparing your oatmeals. With this method, you can now make use of your microwave for steaming your food.
You can actually buy veggie packs at the grocery store that is microwave-ready and has detailed instructions. However, if you’re going to make use of the fresh vegetables purchased at the local market, then you might want to take another route.
Before anything else, don’t forget to rinse your vegetables. In this way, you’ll remove all the unnecessary dirt on your veggies.
Secondly, you have to cut your vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl evenly. Microwave-safe bowls are usually made from glass materials or other high-quality plastic. Regardless, make sure that your bowl is microwaveable.
Once you have evenly cut your vegetables, add a little water to the bottom of the bowl. After, add a plastic wrap on top for it to perfectly steam.
If you’re planning to use a microwaveable, you definitely can! You just have to put water in the container with your veggies. After that, poke a little hole or just leave one corner open for the vent.
Steaming is definitely not just done in your steamers, stoves, and microwaves, but they can be done in your ovens as well! It is not only convenient, but they’re pretty easy too.
Since you can now be using your oven for steaming, you can undoubtedly call your ranges multifunctional. Just make sure that you let your oven rest after cooking your cookies unless you want your veg to taste and smell like your chocolate chip cookies!
For this method, you might want a roasting pan with a rack. However, if this isn’t available in your kitchen, you can use a big oven-safe pot and a baking rack—just put the rack on top of the big pot, and you’re good!
Heat the oven to a low temperature. By low temperature, I mean 200 degrees Fahrenheit or approximately 93 degrees celsius. Bring a teapot of water to a boil and pour its contents about half an inch into the large pot.
Correctly arrange your vegetables on the baking rack or the roasting rack. After that, place the rack over the pot. Ensure that the vegetables are directly placed on top of the pot, or else it won’t steam properly.
Next, put an aluminum foil over the rack to stop the steam from escaping altogether. Next, place the pot in the prepped oven until the time is done (or the food is cooked).
When steaming food, or cooking food in general, time is really important. Even though this will not burn your food, this can make your food extra soggy and probably wet. You always don’t want to break its nutrients!
To ensure that you’re cooking your food properly, I have prepared a mini guide for your steaming guide. So read on and learn more to get that perfectly steamed meal.
To increase the quality of your steamed vegetables, you can add a spritz of fresh lemon. This perfectly works with your steamed asparagus.
Lemon, garlic, or (a little sprinkle of) black pepper can increase the flavor of your steamed vegetables. This is pretty safe for those who are watching their weight but still want a unique taste in their veggies.
After steaming, it is best to have a bowl of ice water. You can put your steamed veggies into this bowl to ensure a pleasant and crunchy cooked vegetable result.
Different vegetables and different techniques call for separate steaming time. Also, the number of vegetables that you’re going to steam must be considered as well.
Any large veggies need to be cut into smaller chunks. When steaming root vegetables, then don’t forget to slice them too. For other vegetables that are not too chunky, like artichokes, you can keep them whole.
If you don’t have a roasting rack, you can use a baking rack or a wire cooling rack. A splatter screen is also acceptable! Just put it on top of a wide saucepan, and you’re good to go.
When cutting the vegetables, always cut them evenly and equally. This will make sure that everything is cooking simultaneously and no one will get left behind.
Remember that the rule of thumb in cooking is that the firmer the texture, the longer you need to steam the vegetables. So, your green leafy veg is faster than your broccoli and carrots.
You might be using a plate to steam, but always make sure they’re heat-safe and non-plastic. Also, when washing, allow it to cool down before cleaning it for it not to break!
Just because you’ve been eating pan-cooked and fried vegetables your whole life, that doesn’t mean it’s too late for your to start eating steamed veggies. However, not getting a steamer must not demotivate you!
With tons of ways to steam your vegetable without a steamer and with the less time consumption brought by the steaming method, you’re now left with zero reasons to cook your veggies in a healthier way. So, what are you waiting for?
Paul is an aspiring amateur chef from Sydney, Australia. Paul comes from Vietnam and has a passion for Asian food. He has visited Asia including Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Singapore and hopes to inspire others with his passion for food.