With no added oil required, steamed food is a healthy, lower-kJ option.
Steaming is the cooking of food in hot vapour rather than liquid. You place the food over boiling liquid (usually water or a mixture of water and stock) and as the fluid below boils, the steam rises to cook the food.
As the food never touches the liquid, the loss of nutrients is reduced and the flavours of food are richer. Steamed food is also cooked without added fat, making it a healthier option, too.
Tips for steaming
Sprinkling fresh garlic, ginger and herbs over whatever you’re steaming will enhance the flavour.
Always choose the freshest ingredients you can when steaming; as flavours are not aided by the addition of oil, true flavours will come through.
Water should always be at a rolling boil before you add food to the steamer. Try to add the food in a single layer, so it cooks evenly.
The steamer should be about 2.5cm above the boiling water, and covered with a tight-fitting lid.
Foods perfect for steaming include: vegetables, fruit, fish steaks and fillets and tender pieces of meat.o steam fish fillets or shellfish, try wrapping them in spinach, banana leaves or Asian greens. You can also steam foods by wrapping them up into ‘parcels’ with baking paper.
You can also create fruit parcels by placing a mixture of chopped mango, orange, pear and banana in foil or baking paper parcels with a little orange juice and fresh mint leaves. Seal and steam for 10 minutes before serving with some low-fat yoghurt.
You can buy very reasonably priced bamboo steamers from your supermarket. Stainless steel steamers, which are similar to double saucepans (except for the holes in the base of the top layer), are usually sold here too.
Another option is a stainless steel, plastic or aluminium basket that opens and folds shut like a fan. This can be used with an ordinary lidded saucepan. The basket stands on its own short legs to keep it clear of boiling water. It fits inside most saucepans. This type is suitable for foods that do not need much cooking as the small amount of water underneath the legs boils dry quite quickly.
If you don’t have a steamer, you can create one by putting a metal colander over a pan of simmering water. Fill it with food and top with one of your saucepan lids.
Any fish fillet or steak is perfect for steaming. Wrap in some wilted bok choy or spinach leaves after sprinkling with chopped, fresh herbs or slices of ginger.
Steaming times vary with the size and quantity of fish. Allow 8–10 minutes for fillets or 10–15 minutes for steaks.