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Old 02-04-2007, 10:10 AM   #1
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Food steamers: pros & cons?

Like a lot of people on this forum, I not only love good food, but am also interested in healthy food.

I have seen (what seem to me) complicated 3-tier contraptions to steam food with. I have also seen a lot of them at garage sales, and am wondering if they are complicated and/or worth the bother to use...

I am tempted by steaming food because:
- I am under the impression that more vegetable nutrients are preserved (as opposed to boiling, for instance).
- I am also under the impression that the texture and taste are improved
- I am convinced that this eliminates calories as opposed to many other forms of cooking.

Are these impressions correct?

A couple of questions:

- Are the contraptions such as I describe difficult to use and clean?
- Do any of you use them on a regular basis?
- What sorts of foods are *not* recommened to be be steam-cooked?

Best regards,
Alex R.

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Old 02-04-2007, 10:40 AM   #2
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Alex, I have a 3 tier bamboo steamer and love it for veggies. I line them with wax paper, poke a few holes in it and layer the veggies and steam away. Pie plates will work too if they have room around the edges for the steam to move up! I don't care for chicken steamed, it remains white and not appealing to me visually. I also have some steamer baskets that I use in my SS pans. Steaming seems to retain the color and unless overdone will retain the nice texture. Try a couple of those steaming baskets, about $4 each. If you like it then invest in a better one!
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Old 02-04-2007, 12:08 PM   #3
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I have a stainless steel oval steamer with two perforated tiers and the bottom base where you put the water. It is a cinch to clean. If you decide to steam fish (which I do and hence the oval shape rather than round), you'd do well to place the fish on a plate rather than on the perforated tray itself, as it does make it a more difficult to clean if you get fish skin or scales stuck to it.

Vegetables are great. Much improved in both texture and colour than boiled in water or cooked in a microwave. Potatoes take longer than if boiled directly in water.

Stainless steel steamers can be quite expensive to buy. Bamboo ones are a lot cheaper, but because I do fish I prefer to use steel because it's easier to clean and remove smells from. Have you thought about buying one of these:

double steamer stainless steel

You can get single layer ones too in lots of shops. You might find something like this will save you money (and space in the kitchen!).
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Old 02-04-2007, 12:29 PM   #4
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I too have metal tiered stearmers. I love them. I just adore them. We don't have them in Italy and I really miss steamed vegetables. In UK we had steamed vegetables at least four times a week. Its quick and its tasty and its healthy. I have round metal ones that, aswell as fitting on their own base fit on various saucepans I own too. I like the cleanability of them and that they are tough. Seriously: I miss my steamer more than my kettle, and for a Brit that is saying a lot!
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:26 PM   #5
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Don't laugh, I don't get out much, but WOW, a double steamer! That thing is beautiful. It is going on my must have list and probably one for my son. I have never steamed fish but if I were to do it it would only be steamed in SS. Because of the bamboo I only do veggies.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:34 AM   #6
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I just take a colander and place it in a larger pan with a lid draped over the top and steam away--you can spray it with nonstick cooking spray if you don't want things to stick-----have a kettle of hot water on hand if the distance from the colander to the pan isn't much and the water tends to boil away quickly and you can easily replenish it without dropping the temp. too much. I do this with both meat, fish, and veggies.
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:01 PM   #7
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I use a collapsible steamer basket and my rice cooker.
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Old 02-05-2007, 06:19 PM   #8
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steaming veggies is the least caloric way to fix them unless you go in for dipping sauces. I think roasting veggies gives much better flavor, but a bit of olive oil is recommended to help them along so more calories. Boliing is a sad way to fix good fresh veggies, but blanching (dropping veggies into a large quantity of rapidly boiling salted water for a minute) is a wonderful way to par cook and brighten veggies which can be shocked (iced) or sauteed from that point.

One can oversteam veggies to a mush as easily as one can overcook them any other way.

For max flavor I like to steam veggies with herbs and fish...and serve over brown rice.
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Old 02-06-2007, 12:48 PM   #9
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Robo410, I too love the roasted veggies. The hardest part of cooking is the timing! I can't think of any veggies that I have not reduced to a pulp! I have finally learned how to get them to that cooked but still crunchy stage,(it took years mind you)! I have never steamed fish. Guess I'm afraid of stinking up the house. What kind of fish do you steam and what seasonings do you prefer? I only cook salmon and that I always bake with onions and lime pepper. Used to eat Alaskan cod and haddock but the price is now painful!
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Old 02-06-2007, 01:50 PM   #10
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My two-tier steamer is similar to Snoop Puss's. I use it very often for steaming fish, chicken, Chinese buns (bao) and oriental desserts. If you do not steam often, you can easily use a wok or a big deep pot to do the job. Simply place a metal steamer rack in a wok/pot, fill it with water up to the rack level and bring it to a boil. Place your glass/pyrex dish containing the fish, chicken, or veggie on top, cover and steam.
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