10 Foods You Never Knew You Could Steam (and How the Heck to Do It)

by | Updated: July 25th, 2017

Steaming—it’s not just for broccoli and carrots anymore! This time-saving cooking technique, which uses one pot to prep food, is the more energy-efficient choice when it comes to cooking as it reduces the overall cook time. And while steamed veggies are nice, there are tons of other things you can fog to perfection as well!

If you’re not familiar with steaming, the food is placed above water or other cooking liquid in a covered pan that’s hot enough to produce steam to gently cook the food.

Homemade Steamed Vegetables in Bowl with Chopsticks | Vitacost.com/Blog

 “Steam cooking is not something new but has been around for centuries. It is one of the most popular cooking methods in the East, especially China, India and some parts of North Africa,” a HubPages article explains.

Not only is steaming great for busy households, but it’s one of the best cooking techniques for overall health. Gently steaming vegetables retains up to 50 percent more nutrients, especially water soluble vitamin C and vitamin B, which are damaged or lost with high heat. Foods that are steamed are lighter in calories and highlight the food’s natural flavors. 

While many people use a steamer for cooking the perfect pot of light and fluffy rice, there are a wide range of foods which can be cooked in a steamer. We promise that you’ll be hooked on this valuable piece of kitchen equipment before you know it!

1. Dark leafy greens

When steamed, these nutritious leaves cook in just a few minutes. Go for local, in-season leafy greens (visit a farmer’s market) such as collard greens, bok choy, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kale and spinach (or any other green you’re in to). Steam for 1-2 minutes, drain, chill and freeze in small containers to use in your green smoothies.

For a simple side dish, add a few drops of toasted sesame seed oil and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

2. Winter squash, gourds & pumpkin

Steam ‘em whole and scoop it out! Stuff your steamed veggie of choice with meat or vegetable chili, soup or other flavorful combinations for an impressive main course at your next dinner party. You could also chill the cooked squash and use it as a bowl for a mixed salad.

3. Fish and shellfish

Delicate fish and shellfish retain moisture when steamed. Place seasoned salmon or other white fish on a bed of fresh herbs or citrus slices and steam until flaky.  

Do you love a traditional New England style clam bake? It’s made by steaming clams, lobster, fish, corn on the cob and potatoes over layers of seaweed.

4. Fresh tomatoes

Do you have an abundance of farm-fresh tomatoes? A steamer is perfect for processing tomatoes to remove skins, getting them ready for making tomato sauce or salsa for canning or freezing.

 5. Defrost and reheat

Short on time? Use your steamer to gently defrost or reheat food so it retains moisture and flavor without overcooking or drying out.

6. Desserts

Love a warm and sweet dessert that’s low in sugar? Scoop out the seeds and core from a baking apple or pear and stuff it with chopped nuts, dates, cinnamon and a splash of vanilla and steam until soft. Use apple or other fruit juice as the steaming liquid instead of water. Reduce the liquid after cooking and thicken lightly with arrowroot for a light sauce. Top with a dollop of yogurt or whipped coconut cream.

7. Cruciferous vegetables

These veggies LOVE steam. In fact, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and radishes become sweeter when steamed. Keep it simple by steaming broccoli until tender crisp; add a pinch of salt and splash of fruity olive oil to season. Use cabbage leaves to wrap traditional-style stuffed cabbage or try something new; tempeh and wild rice filling, or mushrooms and farro with garlic and pesto.

8. Frozen vegetables

Frozen veggies often turn into mush when you cook them—but not when they’re steamed! Keep kids busy while you’re making dinner by serving steamed edamame pods with a sprinkle of salt or sea vegetable seasoning as a nutritious snack or appetizer.

9. Poultry

Lean, whole chickens, chicken breasts or pieces wrapped in parchment paper packages are delicate and tender. Season chicken with herbs, salt, garlic or your favorite seasoning combinations. Steam chicken until cooked through; use an internal thermometer to check temperature. Steam a whole chicken or several chicken breasts, cool and shred meat. Use shredded chicken for a quick salad or toss with barbecue

10. Eggs

Make the perfect hard-boiled eggs. Steam in shell for six minutes for a soft boiled egg and 12 minutes for a hard-boiled egg.