What is Steam in Cooking?

Steaming is a gentle and healthy cooking technique that uses the power of steam to cook food.

The Essence of Steaming

At its core, steaming involves cooking food by exposing it to the steam generated by boiling water. This gentle method allows the food to cook evenly and retain its natural flavors, nutrients, and colors without the need for additional fats or oils. Steaming is a popular technique in Asian cuisines, particularly in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cooking, where it is used to prepare dumplings, buns, and a variety of delicate dishes.

The Benefits of Steaming

Steaming offers several advantages that make it a preferred cooking method for both chefs and health-conscious home cooks:

  • Preservation of Nutrients: Unlike other cooking methods that can cause nutrient loss, steaming helps retain the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in the food, promoting a healthier diet.
  • Enhanced Flavors: Steaming allows the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine through, resulting in dishes that taste pure and unadulterated.
  • Maintaining Textures: Steamed dishes maintain their textures, especially when it comes to vegetables and seafood, which stay tender-crisp and succulent.
  • No Added Fats: Steaming requires little to no added fats or oils, making it a low-calorie and heart-healthy cooking option.

Steaming Techniques and Equipment

Steaming can be accomplished in various ways, depending on the type of food and the equipment available:

  • Bamboo Steamers: These traditional Asian steamers are made of bamboo and consist of multiple layers that allow different foods to be steamed simultaneously. They are perfect for preparing dumplings, buns, and delicate seafood.
  • Steamer Baskets: Steamer baskets are versatile and can fit inside a regular saucepan or pot. They are ideal for steaming vegetables, seafood, and even grains like rice and couscous.
  • Electric Steamers: Electric steamers are convenient appliances that offer precise control over the steaming process. They come with various compartments, allowing you to steam multiple foods at once.
  • En Papillote: A French cooking technique where ingredients are wrapped in parchment paper or foil before steaming. This method seals in flavors and juices, creating a delightful and aromatic package.

Steaming: A World of Culinary Possibilities

Steaming opens up a world of culinary possibilities, from simple and healthy weekday meals to elegant and flavorful gourmet creations. Whether you’re steaming a medley of colorful vegetables, steaming tender fish fillets, or crafting delightful dumplings, this gentle cooking technique promises delightful results.

Use Steam in a Sentence

As the pot of water started to boil, the rising steam enveloped the vegetables in the steamer basket, cooking them to perfection with a gentle and healthy method.


Steaming in cooking is a time-honored method that celebrates the natural goodness of ingredients while promoting a healthier and flavorful dining experience. Its simplicity, versatility, and nutrient-preserving qualities make it a valuable tool in the kitchen for chefs and home cooks alike. So, the next time you embark on a culinary adventure, consider harnessing the power of steam. Embrace the art of steaming, and let its gentle touch elevate your dishes to new heights of taste, health, and culinary excellence.