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How to Use a Steamer

The products we used:

From Steamer Zero to Steamer Hero

Steaming is a nice way to cook all kinds of foods. Compared to boiling, steaming preserves more nutrients and maintains food flavor and texture. Since it doesn't involve any cooking oil, steaming food is a great way to enjoy the simple flavors of the foods we love.

Steam cooking opens up more cooking opportunities as well. Japanese pork buns are cooked using steam, making the buns and their filling moist and delicious. Certain western desserts are cooked with steam, too. If you haven't ever heard of Christmas pudding before, look it up on Youtube.

But if you've never used a steamer, like the PEACH BRAND Stainless Steel Three-Tier Square Steamer, it may look a bit daunting. However, after you've read this article, all your fears will be laid to rest and you'll be ready to become a steam-cooking hero.


Bring to Hard Boil Before Cooking

Boiling water in steamer

First, you need to fill the bottom tier of the steamer about 50-70% with water. Bring the water to a hard boil before placing your food in the steamer.

Keep at Medium-High Heat

Reducing heat to medium high

You need lots of steam to cook your food. You need to lower the heat from high to avoid making a mess, but not too low or else the food won't cook.

Exception: eggs

There are certain dishes, like Chawanmushi or steamed pudding, that require a lower cooking temperature. The eggs in Chawanmushi and pudding will curdle, rather than cooking into a smooth texture.

When making dishes like those, set heat to low and place a chopstick under the lid to allow more steam to get out and prevent the temperature in the steamer from getting too high.

Wrap the Lid with a Cloth

Wrapping the steamer lid with a cloth Wrapped lid

Typically you don't want drops of water falling on your food. Steam is hotter than water, so the drops of water will slow down the cooking process. Plus, if you make something like pork buns or Christmas pudding, the water will make your food soggy and gross.

The cloth wrapped around the lid will catch the drops of water that drop the from the lid itself. The water will be draw towards the outside of the lid, but the heat and diffusion of the water will cause it to evaporate quickly, so the outer portions of the cloth won't get wet.

Add Hot Water When Necessary

Checking water level

If you have to steam cook something for an extended period of time (Christmas pudding is steamed for 4 hours!), you need to check the water level periodically and add more hot water (for example, from an electric pot for boiling water).

Rotate Tiers

Three-Tier steamer by PEACH BRAND

If you are using a three-tier steamer like the PEACH BRAND, you need to switch the top and middle tiers half-way through the cooking process to evenly cook both food in both tiers.

Open the Lid Away From You

Close up of lid with cloth

When you open the lid to check on your food, open the lid away from you to avoid getting burnt by the steam.

Cook it 'til it's done

The cooking time for different foods can vary significantly based on the thickness of the food. Until you get used to cooking with steam, you shouldn't rely on cooking times in recipes. Instead, cook the food until it's done, checking on it periodically.

Cook Evenly

When steaming various ingredients (for example, different vegetables), you typically want them to cook evenly. You don't want hard carrots and mushy broccoli.

To cook evenly, put hard ingredients in first and cook them for a while before adding softer ingredients. Additionally, add thick ingredients before thin ingredients.

Don't Place Food Directly On Steamer Tiers

Pork buns in steamer

Typically, you don't need to place food directly on the tiers. Vegetables can be set on a plate inside the steamer, for example.

Other foods, like pork buns, need to be placed on wax paper to prevent them from sticking to the steamer.

Although it's often okay to place food on directly on the steamer tiers, in practice it's often faster and cleaner to place food on a different surface before putting them in the steamer.

Only Use Bottom Tier for Boiling Water

It's tempting to use the bottom tier for cooking food in other ways besides steaming. Wouldn't it be great to boil some pasta in that bad boy?

Stop. Cease. Desist.

The bottom tier is designed only for boiling water. If you get food burnt on to it, your steamed food hero's journey will come to an unhappy ending.

Resist the temptation. Only boil water in the bottom tier.

Like a Puff of Steam

Do you feel that? That's the fear, uncertainty, and doubt you had about using a PEACH BRAND Stainless Steel Three-Tier Square Steamer leaving your body. With that weight lifted, all that's left is a silent strength and resolve to steam the heck out of everything.

The products we used: