For any number of reasons – good health, weight loss and eating a more nutritious diet – steaming food is a good idea. You can get various different types of food steamers that can be plugged in to work by themselves; or you can get stove top varieties and even find food steamers for the microwave.
What are food steamers?
A food steamer is an implement that cooks food by heating water and creating steam. This is a method of cooking widely used in Asian cuisines and has been used for millennia. Steaming food means that you’re using heated vapor or steam to cook it, instead of using oil, butter or fat. The other major benefit of steaming is that the nutrients in the food are retained; unlike when you boil food (boiling means that you have to strain the food and most of the nutrients are then lost).
The foods that are best for steaming are vegetables and lean proteins such as chicken, fish and so on. Steaming is very useful if you’re on special diet such as the Macrobiotic Diet, the Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition (CRON) diet, Cuisine minceur (the slimming cooking style of cooking by French chef Michel Guérard), and the Okinawa Diet etc.
How to buy a food steamer
First decide whether you want a standalone steamer, a stove top one or a microwave steamer. A stove top one can be made from stainless steel, or bamboo (dimsum anyone?). You can even use a pressure cooker to steam-cook food. Standalone steamers typically have more than one segment for cooking several different items at the same time. Some electric rice cookers can also be used as a streamer. Here are some economical options:
This mini microwave steamer is useful for a single serving since it has only one steam tray. At just $8.55 it is a good deal too.
This 10 inch bamboo steamer is designed to go into a stock pot or a wok. It is ideal for dimsum and costs about $15. This is the traditional type of steamer that is still widely used in Asian cooking.
This rice cooker and food steamer cooks and keeps food warm for hours too. It has a non stick inner cooking pot and is available for just about $20.
This is a two tier food steamer that switches to warming mode when it finishes cooking. You can even boil eggs in here. It is currently available at a discount at about $30.