Thursday, 18 October 2012

Techniques / How to: Six ways to steam cook, even with out a steamer | KuksKitchen

Steaming is a moist-heat cooking technique that uses hot steam to conduct the heat in to food.

As you know from your school physics lessons water turns to steam at the boiling point of water. This temperature, provided that the pressure is a normal 1.00 atmosphere is equal to 100.00 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Steaming has an advantage over methods such as boiling or even simmering in that there is no movement involved, hence it's gentler on delicate food items. And because it doesn't require the food to be submerged, it avoids the loss of nutrients through leaching.

Steam can be forced to exceed this natural temperature limit by pressurizing it. You know what I am talking about - yes the good old pressure cooker. The higher the pressure, the hotter the steam becomes.

I love steaming since it is so healthy. Here are some of the steamed goodies from my blog.

Semolina / Rava idli

Rice noodles / Idiappam

Steamed rice cake / Puttu

Below are some of the techniques I use in my kitchen lab :-) for steam cooking. Please share your experiences with steam cooking and more techniques which I have missed down here.

Technique One: Stove top method / Compartment steaming

Equipments needed:

-Aluminium foil
-Large, heavy-based, deep-sided pan with dedicated, tight-fitting lid


-Lightly scrunch a large sheet of aluminium foil into a rough disc shape.

-Place the aluminium foil into the bottom of the pan. Rest the wrapped pudding on top. Make sure the base of the pudding bowl is not in direct contact with the base of the pan.

-Add enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the pudding bowl.

-Cover the pan tightly with the lid. Steam the pudding according to the recipe instructions.

During steaming, the base of the pudding bowl cannot touch the direct heat of the pan. Lesley Waters demonstrates how to steam puddings without a steamer.

Technique Two: the pressure cooker method


Pressure cooker
Metal basket with its diameter less than that of ur cooker so it can fit in ur cooker
2 cups of water or according to the size of your cooker and pot

Some steamer baskets have their own feet to stay above water, others come with a separate trivet to keep them lifted


-Place your food on the steaming pot. Lower the basket into the pressure cooker.

-Carefully pour water in to the cooker till it is about 2" below the rim of the pot.

-Lock the lid of the pressure cooker with the weight on.

-After the desired time, use the quick release method ( hold cooker under running tap water till it cools down) to stop the steaming process immediately.

- Cooking on pressure cooker requires 3/4th the time compared to any other technique.

Technique Three:  Bain-Marie technique


A deep baking tray


Place the mould/ pudding cups/ ramekin cups in a large, deep baking pan. Pour hot water into the baking pan till it is about 1" below the rim of the moulds.

Technique Four: Cooking en Papillote

Another technique for cooking with steam is known as cooking en papillote or "in paper." This method is frequently employed for cooking fish, and involves enclosing the food in a packet of parchment paper or foil. This packet is then heated, so that the item inside cooks in its own steam.

Technique Five: Using a bamboo steamer

A steaming basket is a cheap way to steam food. Fill a pot with 2 ounces of water and place the basket with the veggies on top. Once the water boils, it takes anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes to cook. It depends on the thickness of the veggie so you may want to check periodically (but don't keep lifting the lid!) and pull them off when they hit your preferred softness. And, please, don't forget the lid. You won't get anywhere unless the steam is trapped in the pot.

Immediately after steaming, have a colander of ice or bowl of ice water ready to plunge — or "shock" — your cooked goodies. This will stop the cooking process so your veggies stay nice and crunchy.

Technique Six: Microwave method

Place vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl, add no more water than what it takes to rinse your vegetables before washing. No additional water is needed! Cover the bowl with microwave safe plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent.

Other equipments

Regular steamer


Idli steamer

Puttu steamer

Images source: google images


  1. very informative post...

    1. Dear Rafeeda

      Thank you for the comment. I am a big fan of steaming.


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 I'm Sherin, aka kukku. 

An excited mum, a  responsible doctor , a friend's friend , a thankful daughter, a thankful sister and a passionate singer,  an enthusiastic cook, food writer and food photographer . That's me in a nut shell.

A doctor in my day job and a food writer and food photographer by night. I came in to cooking because of the people around me, be it the women in family who are amazing cooks or the men who luv to eat. My son is my best critic. :) Started cooking while I was at school, my first attempt being a sweetie, no surprise there for people who know me. I got interested in cooking more after marriage, as most girls do. My experiments with food blossomed after coming to the UK, where the grocery stores opened up a variety of foodie opportunities for my hungry tum.

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