Steaming is a method of cooking using steam. Steaming is considered a relatively healthier cooking technique and capable to cook almost all kinds of food.


Steaming works by first boiling water, causing it to evaporate into steam; the steam then carries heat to the food, thus cooking the food. Such cooking is most often done by placing the food into a steamer, which is a typically a circular container made of metal or bamboo. The steamer usually has a lid that is placed on the top of the container during cooking, to allow the steam to cook the food. When steamer is unavailable, a wok filled with below half water is a constant replacement by placing a metal frame made of stainless steel in the middle of the wok. Some modern home microwave oven includes the structure to cook the food by steam evaporated from a separate water container, providing a similar result cooked by fire. Although the food can be separated from the boiling water, it is usually intended to have direct contact with the steam, resulting a moist texture to the dishes.

Benefit and disadvantage

Overcooking or burning food is easily avoided when steaming it. Health conscious individuals may prefer steaming to other methods which require cooking oil, resulting in lower fat content. Steaming also results in a more nutritious food than boiling because fewer nutrients are leached away into the water, which is usually discarded. A 2007 USDA comparison between steaming and boiling vegetables shows the most affected nutrients are folic acid and vitamin C. Compared to raw consumption, steaming reduces folic acid by 15%, and boiling reduces it by 35%. Again compared to raw consumption, steaming reduces vitamin C by 15%, and boiling reduces it by 25%. All other nutrients are reduced by a similar amount by both methods of cooking [cite web | url= |title=USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors Release 6] . The only drawback by steaming is, it requires more energy to cook than other techniques because the heat energy does not carry to the food directly. Most energy is lost to the low-efficient medium, water.

Food by steaming

In Western cooking, steaming is most often used to cook vegetables, and rarely to cook meats. In Chinese cuisine, vegetables are mostly stir fried or blanched and seldom steamed. Seafood and meat dishes are steamed, for example, steamed whole fish, steamed crab, steamed pork spare ribs, steamed ground pork or beef, steamed chicken, steamed goose, etc. Other than meat dishes, rice is steamed too, although in Chinese language this is rarely referred to as "steaming" but simply "cooking." Wheat foods are steamed as well, examples include buns, Chinese steamed cakes etc. Steamed meat dishes (except fish and some dim sum) are less common in Chinese restaurants than in traditional home cooking because meats usually require longer cooking time to steam than to stir fry. Commercially sold frozen foods (such as dim sum) are usually instructed to reheat by steaming, until the popularity of home microwave oven for its considerably shorter cooking time.

See also

*Food steamer
*Mushiki, a Japanese steamer made from bamboo


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