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AUG '09 DISCUSSION: Electric Steamer + Steaming Tips

 
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clotilde
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Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:18 am    Post subject: AUG '09 DISCUSSION: Electric Steamer + Steaming Tips Reply with quote

One of the thoughtful, generous gifts I received is for my birthday is an electric steamer, a beautiful stainless-steel model I'd been coveting for some time, hoping to upgrade from both my old, falling-apart bamboo baskets that drip onto the hotplates and leak steam, and my rice cooker with the not-so-non-stick lining.

It is the first such appliance I own, and I am hoping I can get you to share your tips and ideas on how best to use it, so I am starting this forum discussion: do you have an electric steamer yourself? What do you use it for, and what are some of your favorite preparations to cook in it? And if you use an alternative method for steaming, I want to hear all about it too!


Last edited by clotilde on Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:16 am; edited 3 times in total
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CarlaH



Joined: 22 Jun 2008
Posts: 34
Location: South shore of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Clotilde, A belated happy birthday to you. I've had an electric steamer for quite a few years now - used it for rice cooking and steaming vegetables when I first got. Somehow I forgot all about it so I'll look forward to replies from the C&Z gang to bring it out of its isolatin and back into the kitchen where it belongs.
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FillMyTummy



Joined: 04 Aug 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy birthday Clotilde! I am so delighted you have (re)discovered steaming with your new birthday present. Your new steamer will bring you much joy and delicious food because it is so easy and fun to use - and keep clean! Steamed food is more nutritious and tastier than plain boiled - vegetables hold a better texture and meat/fish stay very succulent. We have been steaming family meals for over 15 years and I got my wife the Morphy Richards Intellisteam for her birthday. One tip is that you do not need to use as much herb for flavour as you would otherwise, because I find that the action of the steam works to marinade and cook the food at the same time - flavours naturally penetrate deeply. ENJOY! Very Happy
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a very interesting observation FillMyTummy! I wouldn't have thought of that but it does make perfect sense! I've just got a fairly old a quite plain vegie steamer/rice cooker but rarely think to use it for more than rice! I think I shall expand.!
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Suzenna



Joined: 04 Aug 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:26 pm    Post subject: steamer Reply with quote

When we re-modeled our kitchen, my husband insisted on a Mielle steam oven. I thought it wold be silly to spend so much money on a steamer when you can just use an inexpensive bamboo steamer or a pot with a steamer basket that costs $6, but I was wrong. It is so worth every penny. The reason I came to that conclusion is that for the first time I can steam lobsters without having to over cook them. You can never get the water boiling enough on a home range, or have a pot big enough, to cook to perfection (without overcooking) two lobsters at the same time. With the steam oven, I turn on the machine, when it signals, I put in two lobsters, and within a few minutes -
they are perfect. It is also a dream to make chocolate cake - it comes out perfectly moist and seems to enhance the chocolate flavor.
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fatcat55jc



Joined: 04 Aug 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, you'll certainly enjoy your new steamer. Place a flat filet of fish directly atop a bed of herbs aromatics and veggies inside the steamer. Fragrant, tender, moist, in no time at all.

I very much enjoy using my Mauviel tin-wiped copper 3-tier oval steamer. One doesnt want to overpack a steamer. The steam needs to have access to all the food. That's no problem with my Mauviel rig, each tier is a generous 12 by 9 oval, the base is 3 inches high, the top two tiers are 2 inches high. Over just one stovetop burner, it still produces a prodigious amount of steam. If you'd like, a photo and short video here http://www.flickr.com/photos/40343589@N02/
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CharlotteP



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 2
Location: Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:38 pm    Post subject: Re: steamer Reply with quote

I so agree, while I don't own a steamer, I also bought an Electrolux steaming oven last year, my model has traditional oven functions as well as the steaming ability - and I just love that thing which really is only beaten by the Kitchen Aid.

I bake all of our bread myself (thus the need for the KA for kneading bread all the time), adding steam in the beginning of baking the bread gives the bread the most amazing crust whether it is full grain sourdough baguettes or simple italian style semolina bread.

I also use steaming it a lot for reheating food where it works out fine, and of course for steaming fish. Never tried a chocolate cake but would love a recipe if you have one.

Certainly didn't do much about the real question being an electrical steamer, but I am very pleased with having a steam-option other than the diy stovetop option.
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clotilde
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Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful, thank you for your thoughts and suggestion!

Carla - Glad to have reminded you of it. I know the feeling -- out of sight, out of mind, right?

FillMyTummy - That's very good to know indeed.

Charlotte - I imagine the steaming functionality must really help the texture of the crust. I bake my breads in a closed vessel (a glass pot with a lid) and use a rather wet dough, and this seems to give good results as far as the crust is concerned.

Fatcat - What a beautiful steamer, thanks for the pics. Is the copper difficult to maintain?

Suzenna - I second the request for your steamed chocolate cake recipe. My steamer came with a stainless steel bowl that can be placed in one of the baskets to cook rice, for instance, and I'm pretty sure I could use it as a steamed cake pan!
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CharlotteP



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 2
Location: Denmark

PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charlotte - I imagine the steaming functionality must really help the texture of the crust. I bake my breads in a closed vessel (a glass pot with a lid) and use a rather wet dough, and this seems to give good results as far as the crust is concerned.

Hi Clothilde.
Yes and no Wink Actually the steaming when you start off gives you a real crispy crust because the bread gets a humidity chock when placed in a really hot oven with 'fresh' steam. Before getting this oven, I used to throw a cup of water into the bottom of the oven right before placing the bread in there, that worked almost the same, and it is also mentioned in numerous recipes (those who are a bit better at taking care of their stuff place some kind of bowl in the bottom of the oven and heat that up, then throw it in there). What the steam does is that it creates small water bubbles on the surface of the bread, which gives you a crust which appears more like a million small air-holes, it's hard to explain, sort of a really wonderful fresh-baked baguette.

I also bake bread once in a while in a römertopf, I think that's probably closer to what you describe - the dough rises for about a day before being baked, the dough is really wet, when it has risen, I pour it into the römertopf after having heated the topf in the oven and then bake it in the oven with the lid off. That bread also gets a great crust, and on top of that, the bread is wonderfully moist and it also keeps great compared to other bread. By the way, I think that this type of bread originally was based on the "Jim Lahey no knead bread" featured in a NY Times article a few years ago only I use different kinds of flour depending on what I use the bread for.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clotilde,

Congratulations on your steamer! New cooking toys are always fun! I have three ideas. The first one, I would make only once or twice a year, the second is just plain strange but interesting, and the third I would make constantly if I had an automatic steamer, which I don't.

1. I make Colombian tamales in a large pot on a steaming rack. THey are wrapped in banana leaves and have a dough (masa) made out of ground hominy (some people use masa harina, although I don't like the taste) chicken, onions and carrots, cooked chick peas, etc. If anyone is interested I will provide more complete instructions. Colombians also make desserts out of the same "masa" by sweetening the dough with brown sugar, and, obviously eliminating the meat and veggies. These are called "bollos" a word which also has a more scatological meaning. If I had a steamer I would use it for this, although both are mainly Christmas recipes, being complicated. I am not sure that anyone without South American relatives and traditions would make anything this complicated. Also, those of us in the northern hemisphere might want to avoid long cooking steamed recipes in August and save them for winter. Most tropical kitchens are covered from the rain, but are open to the air on one or two sides to dissipate the heat.

2. Going from the exotic and complicated to the prosaic and everyday, I just saw a segment on television about steamed hamburgers and cheeseburgers, that are supposedly extra good. I think you steam at a fairly high heat, and steam the meat and cheese separately, or at least put the cheese on last. I am not a huge fan of cheeseburgers, but would try this if I had a steamer and if I liked hamburgers more than I do.

3. Dim sum items. Many or most of these are steamed and are delectable. I would make buns and dumplings constantly if I had an automatic steamer. Have you made steamed buns? YOu can use bread dough, and fill them with bean paste, a cooked pork and onion mixture, shrimp, etc. You can also use store-bough egg roll skins to make steamed dumplings. A LOT of traditional dim sum items are steamed. I ate a lot of really delicious types of dim sum during a brief visit to Hong Kong, but I didn't know what a lot of the things I ate were, since I don't read Chinese, and I only went out for dim sum once. I ate a lot of things where I was not exactly sure what the ingredients were, but I liked them. I would look at dim sum recipes right away if I had gotten a steamer as a gift.

Have fun!!

Dory
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fatcat55jc



Joined: 04 Aug 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:20 pm    Post subject: Mauviel copper steamer is easy to clean with the right stuff Reply with quote

Fatcat - What a beautiful steamer, thanks for the pics. Is the copper difficult to maintain?

Clotilde, I'm almost embarrassed to post publicly in your forum because I'm certainly no pro in the kitchen, just an enthusiast who's not afraid to make mistakes, but WOW, I sure enjoy your website ! You're the best. Sorry for my amateurish photo and video. I'm also just learning how to post to your forum.

To answer your question, my Mauviel copper steamer is simple to keep clean, using Copperbrill. it is a creamy non-abrasive light-bodied paste applied with a very soft sponge (no scrubbing), then immediately rinsed off with soapy water and dried. Does not scratch the copper, ever. A one kilo tub costs $US 75-100. Over the past 3 years I have been very fortunate to have acquired nearly 4 dozen tin-wiped copper pans big and small of every description, some new and some over 150 years old, which I actually cook and bake with; none are for decoration. And once every 3-4 months I spend a minute or two per pan with this cleaner.

Note, you probably saw the copper steamer photo shows it was on an electric stove ( !!), but I take care of my elderly mom 24-7 who has Alzheimer's and was using her stove at the time.

Well, as I run across good recipes for your steaming, I promise I will pass them along. Because I will be using them, too !

All the best,
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of little dishes in Japanese and Chinese cooking are steamed (all those pork and shrimp dim sum dumplings).

One of my favorite Japanese dishes that I only get to eat at certain restaurants is Chuwanmushi. It's an egg custard steamed with dashi (Japanese broth) and garnished with a dash of vegetable, mushroom, ginko nuts and chicken.

It's a lot of work to make and you have to strain the egg to make sure your custard comes out intact and not fragmented. Traditional Japanese restaurants usually include it as a side dish for a non-sushi dinner plate. There are specific cups with lids sold in Japanese ceramic stores for chuwanmushi.

This is what it looks like:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2063/2311966326_dceeefa47d.jpg[/img]
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am crazy about chawanmushi. I have mostly eaten it at the houses of Japanese friends and have never made it at home. I would defintiely try it if I had a steamer. However, generations of Japanese women made it at home with bamboo steamers, so maybe I will try it anyway. Thank you for the idea. This forum is fun that way.

Dory
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