First, here are a photo of electric steamers with stackable baskets,pls check,
How a steamer is made
Electric steam generators are generally composed of the following parts:
A: is the base with the control panel, which contains the pan in which to put the water, the steam dispenser and the motor that makes it work. It connects with the appropriate cable to the electric current.
BC: the tray placed above the base has a dual function; it has a zone for the diffusion of the steam (B) that is produced from the base and a tray © that collects the drops of condensation that drip from the various baskets when the steamer is in operation.
D: basket with perforated base for storing food to be cooked. Some steamers have two, three others. In some cases the basket is a single piece, in others the base of the basket is removable (EF). The basket is perforated to let the steam filter through the food. The biggest holes that are noticed are actually hollow supports for cooking hard-boiled eggs.
EF: basket (E) with the removable base (F).
G: for cooking rice a special, closed tray is necessary , because the rice to cook needs to be immersed in water, which it will have to absorb. Therefore it is unthinkable to do it in one of the baskets.
H: for the containment of the steam there is always a cover , with appropriate ventilation holes. The lid is placed both if you use the baskets (even if you use only one) or the rice bowl.
When the water is placed in the base, the support for collecting condensation, the necessary baskets and the lid can be used to operate the appliance. In this way an electric resistance which is located in the base, through a connection circuit, will produce the steam that going upwards will allow the cooking of the food present in the baskets. Generally, the cooking time can be indicated through the control panel located in the base, so that a timer automatically switches off the appliance and warns you with an acoustic signal.
The steam kitchen is very valid because it optimally preserves the nutritional characteristics of foods.
In boiling, the water attacks the cell walls of foods dispersing the content of mineral salts and vitamins. The longer the cooking time, the more foods are depleted, often losing 40 to 70% of the vitamins and minerals, as well as important characteristics such as anticancer, digestive, etc.
In steaming, however, the cell walls gradually soften, the substances do not come out and the content of mineral salts and vitamins remains almost unchanged (loss of 4-5% due to substances that remain trapped in the steam and fall in the form of condensation ).
But it is not just a question of nutrients: in steaming aromas and flavors are retained , without added fats. The digestibility is also excellent .
What to steam
Almost all foods can be steam cooked. In my opinion the best results are obtained with vegetables that will surprise you for consistency and flavor. Once you have steamed them, you will not want to boil them anymore. The only exception that I usually admit are spinach, because their cooking in the pot is made with only water that remains imprisoned on the leaves after the last wash, and cabbage (cabbage cabbage, cabbage, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) because they lose part of the bitter aroma in water.
Fish is also excellent , both whole and in slices. The meats will be soft and rich in flavor. Molluscs and seafood are also delicious.
As for meat , I personally prefer it cooked in other ways. In general, white meat is still good.
Then there are those who also boil hard- boiled eggs . Personally I do not find any advantage to do it: the cooking times are very long and the nutritional characteristics and the taste totally comparable to cooking in water. In fact, the shell protects the contents by separating it very clearly from the cooking medium used.
Cooking times in the steamer are usually 10 minutes longer than cooking in water. Here are some of the most common cooking methods:
- Asparagus: 15 minutes
- Green beans: 15-20 minutes
- Broccoli in florets: 20 minutes
- Sliced carrots: 20 minutes
- Cauliflower in florets: 25 minutes
- Sliced zucchini: 15 minutes
- Peeled peas: 15 minutes
- Potatoes in wedges or short stories: 30 minutes
- Whole potatoes: 40 minutes
- Chicken breast: 30 minutes
- Seafood: 10-15 minutes (must be opened)
- Shrimp: 10 minutes (must be beautiful rosé)
- Fillet fish: 10 minutes
- Fish in slices: 15-20 minutes
- Whole fish: 20 minutes
Attention, cooking times must be increased if more baskets are stacked. Add 5 minutes to the floor (for example if cooking is 15 minutes, it will be 15 for the first floor, 20 for the second and 25 for the third).
Attention also to the aromas. The condensate drips from the upper basket to the lower one, then check that the flavors of the food harmonize well. If you have to cook, for example, fish and vegetables, always put the vegetables on top and the fish underneath.
Always dress the food after having cooked it, to avoid dropping the sauce into the steamer water: it could damage the appliance. For the same reason, do not add anything to the steamer water, unless it is specially prepared. Always cover the last element of the steamer with the lid.
Proceed as follows to cook the rice.
Put water in the steamer and a basket. Then take the rice cooking pan and fill it with water, rice and salt up to the proportions indicated: 100 ml of water per 100 g of rice and a pinch of salt. Cooking starts at 20 minutes for 100 grams of rice and increases by 5 minutes for every 100 grams added. Usually the proportion is this:
- 100 g of rice, 100 ml of water, a pinch of salt, 20 minutes of cooking
- 200 g of rice, 200 ml of water, half a teaspoon of salt, 25 minutes of cooking
- 300 g of rice, 300 ml of water, half a teaspoonful of salt, 30 minutes of cooking
The water from the rice dish can also be replaced by broth and contain condiments such as oil and spices.
Fill the tray on the basket, put the lid, program the steamer and cook. Stir the rice halfway through cooking. In the end it must have absorbed all the water.
With the experience, depending on the type of rice used, you can then better dose the right proportions of water, salt, rice and adjust the cooking time.
Electric steamer or steamer basket?
Both methods are valid and the results are almost identical. To operate the steamer basket, place a pan on the stove with the right amount of liquid (water or broth), bring it to a boil and place the food in the appropriate basket. Close well with the lid and cook.
There are various types of baskets, starting from the oriental ones, in bamboo, to be used with the wok, up to the most modern ones, in steel. Some baskets are suitable for all types of pot, while others are sold with its tool.
The lid is always indispensable.
Personally I prefer electric steam, for the following reasons:
- it is very convenient, less dirt is dirty, it is easily rinsed;
- leave the stove completely free;
- you can see the food during cooking without having to lift the lid;
- it is easier to use: being graduated there is no risk that the water runs out before the food is cooked, there is less risk of burns, the food can not be splashed by boiling water because there is a filter protection.
In the case of buying an electric steamer, I recommend carefully evaluating:
- the number of stackable baskets. It does not seem, but often all 3 are used;
- having a cooking pan for rice;
- which has a device for topping up water during practical and safe cooking with a level indicator. Top up water is very useful especially in the case of more consecutive cooking or if too little water has been put in the steamer;
- that has transparent baskets, they are very comfortable to keep an eye on the cooking of food;
- which has a limestone cleaning function;
- if the baskets can be put inside each other the steamer will take up much less space.
The most modern steam generators also have air recirculation systems such that in all the baskets, even if stacked, cooking takes place uniformly and at the same time. In the stardard steamers, in fact, cooking times vary according to the level where the food is located. Others have spice diffusers, the water level indicator that warns us when we need to add, the indicator of when we need to eliminate limescale. All options to be verified on the basis of the quality / price ratio.
How to clean the steamer
In general it is sufficient to rinse the inside of the base, without dipping it obviously in water and drying it very well. The baskets can often be placed in the dishwasher (check the instruction manual), even if they do not generally get very dirty (especially with vegetables) and then just rinse or wash them with a little soap and rinse them well. Same for the lid or the rice bowl.
Naturally all cleaning operations must always be carried out with the power cord disconnected.
On the other hand, the cleaning of the limestone device deserves a different discussion. Generally the steam generators have a cleaning function that involves filling the appliance with white wine vinegar, a particular cooking cycle with all the baskets fitted and a good rinse. However, check the manual.
Other useful tips
Run the steamer near the lit hood, away from the wall units. Hot steam is harmful to wood.
Always use the steamer on a stable surface, where the feet can adhere well.
Be careful when opening the steamer, very strong steam puffs come out. Use kitchen gloves and stay away with your face.
Do not overfill the baskets. The steam must circulate, otherwise the cooking will not be uniform. Rather use more baskets.
Always read the instruction manual carefully: each steamer has unique characteristics that you will need to know better, both to avoid unpleasant accidents and to obtain excellent results.
The images in the article are taken from the following websites: