Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook food, especially vegetables. No added fats or oils are necessary, and more nutrients are retained than when boiling. Food also remains still when steamed, which helps delicate fish fillets and tender young vegetables maintain an attractive appearance and favorable texture. Hob steamers are the most common piece of equipment used to steam foods at home; they are inexpensive, easy to use, durable and can double as a stock pot.
Separate the hob steamer insert(s) from the stockpot portion. If your hob steamer is tiered, separate each insert tier.
Pour about 2 inches of water into the stockpot portion of the hob steamer. For added flavor, replace all or part of the water with broth, beer, bouillon or another liquid. You can also add aromatics such as sprigs of fresh herbs, garlic, onions or mushrooms to the liquid.
Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. While the liquid is heating, prepare your food for steaming as described in the recipe you're using. Vegetables should be cut to a uniform size, and shellfish should be left in the shell unless your recipe instructs otherwise.
Place the food in the hob steamer insert but be careful not to overfill it. The food should not completely block the insert's ventilation holes. Place the insert into the stockpot portion of the steamer, add the tiers (if applicable) and cover tightly.
Steam over high heat for the amount of time specified in your recipe or until the food reaches the desired level of doneness. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
If you used aromatics or liquids other than water to steam with, you can use the liquid to make a sauce. Simply add approximately 2 tbsp. flour, mixed with an equal amount of water, to the liquid. Heat over medium-low heat until thickened, add salt and pepper to taste, and pour over your steamed dish.
Hob steamers can be used to cook almost any dish with some modifications. It's even possible to make bread in one. The only exception is that most raw grains cannot be steam-cooked.
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