TECHNIQUE: Steaming Food For A Better Mood

Eating over-boiled vegetables, all mushy and flavourless, can leave any hungry diner steaming mad. All of the flavour and freshness can leach out into the water – not to mention the water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and folate. Why not try steaming your food instead – the best way to cook a healthy, fresh and delicious meal…

Steaming food has many advantages to other methods of cooking. For starters it is much healthier than most other techniques. This is because you don’t need to use heated oil, which can cut down on your calorie consumption (bah!) but also, more importantly can cut down the potential of you eating cooked oils which often go bad when heated. It also doesn’t leave your food water logged or oil sodden, like boiling or frying can do – with the added advantage that it doesn’t leach away nutrients in the same manner.

In fact steaming vegetables in particular will keep a much higher amount of vitamin C and folic acid in your food which are both quite volatile nutrients. Steaming is also a much gentler method of cooking and creates a moist environment. This means that steamed food maintains its moisture, which makes it a great cooking method not only for vegies but also for lean meats such as chicken breast and seafoods such as prawns, shellfish and fish.

Steaming won’t develop the flavours of your food in the same way as frying your food will, for example; but it will turn some carbohydrates into sugars making root vegetables sweeter while maintaining the innate flavour of your ingredients – unlike boiling your food which leaches away flavour into the water. So make sure you only use fresh quality ingredients when steaming your food, lest you be put off for good.

Photograph: Arabella Gubay

Photograph: Arabella Gubay |

It is also much more difficult to make mistakes when using steaming as a method of cooking. As long as you make sure the pot with the water in it doesn’t run out you are not going to end up burning anything. And if you think you have left your food steaming too long, you can always run it under cold water to cool it down and stop the cooking process immediately – but only do this for vegies. In fact you should always do this (blanch) for any green vegetables anyway – to maintain their beautiful green colour and fresh flavour.

Other than these things, there really is nothing to steaming up a storm. Just make sure you keep your water at a constant boil so it keeps evaporating and producing steam, make sure you don’t run out of water and ideally use a colander or steamer on top of your pot of boiling water to catch the steam whilst allowing it to pass through to your food.

Also make sure you keep meat and vegies separate! You don’t want to contaminate you food and make yourself sick. Oh and one last thing. If you can’t be bothered using or don’t have an appropriate colander or steaming utensil you can cheat by putting a little bit of water in the bottom of the pot with your ingredients which will boil the food on the very bottom but steam the food on top. The water will then boil away (as long as you judge how much you put in in the first place) and leave you with all (or at least most) of the nutrients and mostly steamed food all in one pot!

Photograph: Gabriel Power

Photograph: Gabriel Power

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  1. Pingback: CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS: Giving the Time of Day to Your Veges

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