Published Apr 12, 2007

I’ve recently become obsessed with steaming my vegetables. I realize this is not a particularly exciting revelation — but it’s like I’ve discovered an entire new method of cooking. I mean, it was always there, and I’d steamed before, but all of a sudden it’s actually delicious and wonderful.

Part of the change is in equipment. I got a set of Chinese steamers from Chef JoAnna two Christmases ago and, to be honest, never really used them. Well, last Christmas I got a wok, into which the steamers fit nicely. So now they’re fun to use! And the vegetables they turn out are delicious — tons of flavor.

I throw spices in the steaming water too, which is fun. A smashed clove of garlic always works well, as do black pepper, thyme, and cardamom. I wonder if I could add a little peanut oil and get any effect from that? It’s not water-soluble but maybe the droplets could carry some oil?

Or would that defeat the whole point of steaming? Probably.

I’ll have something interesting to say later, but, for the moment, I mean it when I say: try steaming. It’s tasty!


Steaming is the ONLY way to do asparagus and broccoli. Some other veggies (peppers, onions) seem to be stir-fry-only. But we haven’t tried your “spiced steam”… so maybe we’ll try again.

I dunno about that Vance — steaming works well for those, but I love grilled asparagus (a standard appetizer at middlebrow chains like Asqew Grill and Pasta Pomodoro), and I’m also keen on “shocked” broccoli — toss it in a large enough amount of water at a rolling boil that the water will keep boiling, then pull it out again and put it in ice water to halt the cooking process. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and shaved parmesan.

But yeah, steaming is good. WAY better than boiling.

I omitted “for 30-60 seconds” from that cooking description… (I think this may also be called “blanching”, but “shocked” is a much more exciting word than “blanched”.)

Oh, definitely… for taste, nothing beats grilling. Which has always intrigued me — why does char taste so good? I guess evolution favored those cooked their meat, but char has no benefit, and is quite carcinogenic… so you would think that the amongst the “cookers”, those who did not like the taste of char would have the long-term advantage. Hmm… given average lifespan, cancer probably did not have time to be a major factor. Yea, that’s what I’m going with.

You’re probably right — some level of burnt is a sign that the meat is cooked, and people who can correctly assess doneness of meat will probably get sick less often and live longer. OTOH, carbon has very little nutritional value, so we’d become averse to that even without any carcinogenic effect.