Best Way to Boil Veggies:DON'T!- Steam 'emĀ Instead!

April  6, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Makes you think twice!
Author Notes

Maybe it's because I was raised by parents who suffered through the Depression, but I am rather bull-headed about scraping bowls and using 'every last drop' , as part of my all- kitchen- things- recyclable/ energy saving mentality. Most of us, with a lifetime of habits, need someone from the outside to call attention to wasteful or inefficient ways. I'm hoping that some of you might find this technique sensible for your kitchen!

photos to follow —LeBec Fin

What You'll Need
  • tiered aluminum or stainless steamer
  • 1 1/2" - 2 1/2" water in bottom of steamer
  • vegetables, cubed, sliced; including potatoes, snow peas, corn, green beans, broccoli
  1. Many of us are big fans of roasted vegetables. Giving them a light glaze of oil and seasoning and submitting them to high heat, their sugars caramelize and their flavor is intensified. But there are many instances when a recipe calls for blanching or boiling a vegetable. In those cases, I have become a major fan of steaming vegetables over blanching or boiling them. Steaming is a much faster method, uses less water and fuel, requires no dangerous boiling water, and is far more nutritional, as the steamed food retains its nutrients rather than discharging them into a pot of water. Only a little water is needed to create steam and it takes a short time to heat that little amount of water to steaming, so you save time and gas or electricity every time you steam!
  2. I love my inexpensive 2- tiered Chinese aluminum dome-topped steamer which I bought in a Chinatown restaurant supply store. The tiers are flat (think ' 3" deep cake pan with holes all over the bottom') and they are so space efficient, both for setting over another pot to cool, and for stacked storage.They have an interior diameter of 10" and hold alot of food in a single layer. They also have a thick sturdy rim around each tier, making it easy to grasp and remove them from the steamer part below them.
  3. You can improvise a steamer by doubling up two disposable aluminum pans (that you have punctured all over with a skewer tip) and placing them over a cake rack or a water- filled can and into a larger pot with a few inches of water in the bottom, and a tight fitting lid. Or you can use the standby fold-up 'steamer basket', opened up as wide and flat as possible, to hold more food.( The steamer basket is what I use when I'm just steaming broccoli for the two of us.).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
My eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, cardamom, and GARLIC! I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me. I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse review it and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.

5 Reviews

LeBec F. April 7, 2012
I finally posted photos for this!
BoulderGalinTokyo April 6, 2012
I think it is harder to estimate cooking times with steaming. You stated times should be shorter. Last night I steamed a whole head of cauliflower (whole, not flowerets) about 5 minutes. Then ice bath. If I was blanching I would boil maybe one minute. I was thinking whole, so steam wouldn't get everywhere quickly. Should I have steamed the same one minute?
LeBec F. April 6, 2012
gee gal, if 5 minutes worked for you, then you know better than I. But I don't know if the ice bath was necessary (or did you want to serve it cold?) I guess I was thinking of steaming individual veggies like those i listed.
BoulderGalinTokyo April 6, 2012
No, I don't like squishy vegetables. So to save the crunch I use a bath. Next time I'll try steaming 3 minutes (seems short) To serve: It was covered with a hot beef AN liken AN KAKE.
LeBec F. April 6, 2012
I know that's what they tell you about a bath, but try pulling your veggies out of the steamer a little early and let them sit and cool themselves. See if you can get them the way you llike that way. That's how i do it. My 3-4 minute timing was for broccoli florets and cut up pieces.