Steaming is one of the healthiest cooking methods. Used for thousands of years in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, today it is gaining worldwide popularity.
What makes steaming so special? It is easy and healthy. Just boil water to create steam. The heat from the steam cooks the food. Steam gently envelops food with a cloud of even heat. This helps to retain the foods natural juices, vitamins, and minerals. It does not require the addition of fat.
Cooks experiment with different types of steamers. Stainless steel, plastic, and bamboo steamers can be purchased at most kitchen stores. Roasting pans, double boilers, clay pots, or woks also work.
All sorts of foods may be cooked using a steaming method. From chili-chicken dumplings, sushi rice, Thai curry fish wrapped in banana leaves, mussels with garlic and lime butter to hot mocha raisin souffles or tropical chile fruits in paper packages--unusual foods to tempt us all. Or if you want simplier foods, how about corn on the cob and baby potatoes with lemon dill butter?
Wrappers for steaming
Inedible: Banana leaves, pandanus leaves, bamboo leaves, lotus leaves, aluminum foil, parchment (baking) paper, oven bags.
Edible: Rice paper wrappers, wonton wrappers, cabbage leaves, spinach leaves, grape leaves, bean curd sheets, seasoned tofu pouches, crepes, nori (seaweed).
A tantalizing dish to try is steamed shrimp stuffed with chili. Create a chili jam by mixing crushed garlic, shallots, peanut oil, red chilies, tamarind paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, and dried shrimp into a paste. Cut down the backs of the unshelled shrimp and remove the vein. Press the chili jam into the back cut. Place the stuffed shrimp in a steamer. Sprinkle with mirin and lime juice and cover. Make sure you do not overcook the shrimp or they will be tough.
Many steamers are large enough to combine foods. By steaming the noodles in the bottom of the steamer along with steaming the vegetables on top, foods are ready with minimal work. Expand your steaming experiences by trying to cook fish, meat, rice, or other combinations of foods.
Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff