Steaming is a cooking method that involves the application of moist heat i.e. steam, to food items, either directly or indirectly. Steamed dishes are prepared by boiling water, which causes it to vaporize into steam and cook the food by transferring the heat to the food. Steamed fish and steamed rice are two highly popular steamed recipes.
Origin of Steaming
Steaming originated as a method of cooking thousands of years ago. Steamed dishes are said to have originated from the Oriental cuisine as rice, the ingredient most suitable for steaming was a staple in the Oriental cuisine, and steaming equipment has been used in China for about 3000 years. Steamed recipes are most prominent in the Asian cuisine, and certain steamed dishes like Dim Sums and Steamed meatballs have gained immense popularity and have now become a part of world cuisine.
The Process of Steaming
Steaming is carried out by boiling water in a vessel and placing the food above it, so as to cook the food by exposing it to the hot steam. The food is often covered with grease-proof paper or banana leaves prior to being steamed as it prevents the moisture from condensing on the steamed dish and adding excess moisture. It is very crucial to ensure that the food never comes in touch with the boiling water, as it may spoil the texture or flavor of the steamed dish. Various types of steamers are used for preparing steamed recipes, which comprise of a circular vessel with a lid on top, so as to allow the steam to stay inside the container and cook the food. Steaming is a relatively slow process when compared to other cooking methods.
Popular Steamed Dishes
Steaming is used to prepare several types of food preparations which are hugely popular across the globe, such as steamed rice, steamed puddings, Dim Sums, Steamed Mizuna, Steamed Shrimps, Steamed Eggs and Chinese Steamed bread. These delicacies, though originally from the oriental cuisine, have gained immense popularity all across the globe. Fish, seafood and rice are ingredients most suitable for steaming.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Steaming
Steaming is highly advantageous as it preserves the natural shape as well as the nutrients present in the food. Also, steaming requires no fat and is hence generally accepted as a healthy method of cooking. However, the disadvantage with steaming is that it is a slow method of cooking.
Techniques Similar to Steaming
Steaming is often confused with Pressure cooking, which is different as pressure cooking requires the food to be immersed into the boiling water, whereas steamed recipes do not require any direct contact of the water with food.
Steamed dishes can be made more flavorful by adding herbs/spices to the boiling water.