What’s Cooking: Steaming

Steamed Okra and Corn for a salad (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Hi Everyone,

What’s Cooking is a series in which I answer questions and share advice about food and cooking that you may have but are too shy to ask.

To steam, is to cook with water vapour. It is the fastest method of heat penetrating food, and that’s because of the large intense amount of steam that builds up in a covered pan or pot when water is heated and brought to a boil. What happens is that the boiling water turns into a gas that is suspended in the air, that’s the steam/vapour that circulates and penetrates food, cooking it. With this cooking method, the liquid water itself never comes into direct contact with the food.

Steaming is a cooking method often recommended if we are monitoring our sodium intake, or suffering from issues related to digestion, or if we are on some sort of health-kick diet. The reason for this is that steaming helps to maintain the nutrient content of the food and does not leach out the flavour or colour. While a lot of people think of steamed food as bland—specifically vegetables—when done properly and not overcooked to the point of mush, steaming leaves food tasting exclusively of its cooked self – okras are sweet, so too is pumpkin, ears of corn plump and full of juice, broccoli fresh and green without being grassy. But steaming is not only for vegetables, there’s more to be steamed – ripe plantains, duff, dumplings, buns, custards, potatoes, seafood (fish, shrimp, crab, lobster), chicken and pork too! Steaming is really a healthy cooking method that should not only be relegated to curing ailments, try to incorporate it regularly in to your cooking routine…..

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