Essential Tools

Get Even More Use (& Flavor!) Out of Your Steamer

March 16, 2018

From slabs of salmon to peppers and pork and wheels of Gouda, there’s something so enticing about that woody, chest-burning smell that comes from cooking with a little bit of heat and a heavy dose of smoke. But as much as we love smoked dishes, imparting those deep flavors at home can seem particularly challenging. Between the variety of woods and figuring out where to set up a pit, you might even think smoking’s just for the professionals.

But I’ll let you in on a secret: If you have a steamer, you have a (makeshift) smoker. In vegetarian chef Richard Buckley’s new cookbook, Plants Taste Better, he explains how:

Put a piece of foil on the base of the steamer saucepan to prevent the chips from discoloring. Put the smoking chips on the foil and heat the saucepan on a medium-high heat until the chips burn. (If they don’t burn, then use a blowtorch, lighter or match.) Once they are burning well, put on the steamer basket (containing the ingredients intended to smoke) and then put on the lid. Turn down the heat to medium and leave for 1-15 minutes until the desired level of smokiness is achieved.

Neat! Just don’t plan on smoking bacon in the steamer—this hack works best with produce, like potatoes, carrots, beets, or kale. Save your meats and fish (and s’mores) for the pit.

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3 Comments

Caroline M. March 25, 2018
You don’t even need wood chips! Or a steamer! In Ireland, last year, I found myself with a) pretty tasteless, but freshly caught pollock and b) no steamer. I realised that smoking the pollock would add to its flavour, but didn’t know where to find wood chips. So, after a bit of research, I put a mixture of jasmine rice, sugar and salt on the tinfoil in the bottom of my stainless steel (heavy bottomed) saucepan, then I fashioned a makeshift steamer out of several layers of tinfoil, with slits in, which sat in the top of the saucepan, molded around the top edge. I carefully placed my pieces of pollock on this top tinfoil, then covered the top of the saucepan with more tinfoil, before adding the well-fitting lid. I then put the saucepan on a low heat and left it for 15-20 minutes. Result - beautiful, smoky fish.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. March 28, 2018
This is such a great tip! Where did you learn it??
 
Caroline M. March 28, 2018
Hi! Thank you! I got the rice idea from https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/11/tea-smoked-fish-recipe.html<br />(actually, maybe it was just rice and sugar, not salt!)<br />and also<br />https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/07/26/425635093/put-that-wok-to-work-a-trick-for-smoking-fish-indoors<br />(oh yes, I remember now - rice and jasmine tea and sugar. It was a year ago!)