The Science of Steaming
Learn the Basics of Cooking with Moist Heat
Steaming is a method of cooking that requires moist heat. The heat is created by boiling water which vaporizes into steam. The steam brings heat to the food and cooks it. Unlike boiling, the food is separate from the water and only comes into direct contact with the team. Once the water reaches about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the steaming process begins. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so the highest temperature the food cooks is at 212 degrees.
You only need two simple pieces of equipment to steam food on the stove top: a pot and a steamer basket. The pot is filled with a small amount of liquid that is brought to a simmer; the item to be cooked is placed in a basket suspended above the liquid, and the pot is then covered. The hot steam circulates through the pot and cooks the food very quickly. This technique is known as "compartment steaming." The bamboo steamers or banana leaves used in Asian cuisine are an example of a compartment steamer.
Steam cooking can also be done through the use of high pressure. However this type of cooking requires specialized equipment. The simple pot and basket method works just fine for most recipes.
Let's explore steaming and how it used in simple Asian recipes! Don't forget to try out the activities featured in our S.T.E.A.M. Activity Chart to extend your knowledge about steaming.