Today, we’re going to tackle a question that has been a topic of debate for a long time – steaming vs boiling.
Both methods are commonly used for cooking various types of food, but which one is better? Is it steaming, which retains more nutrients and preserves the natural flavours of the food? Or is it boiling, which is quick, easy, and requires minimal equipment?
In this blog, Kitchenways explores the benefits and drawbacks of each method, as well as some tips for when to use one over the other. So, whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting in the kitchen, this post will provide you with some valuable insights into the world of steaming and boiling.
What is Steaming Food?
Steaming is a cooking method that involves using steam to cook food. In this method, the food is placed in a container and placed over boiling water. The steam generated from the boiling water cooks the food by surrounding it with hot vapour.
This gentle cooking process helps to retain the natural flavours, colours, and nutrients of the food, making it a healthier cooking option than boiling or frying. Steam cooking is also a versatile cooking method, as it can be used for a variety of foods, including raw vegetables, fish, chicken, and dumplings.
Best Steamed Foods
Steaming is a versatile cooking method that can be used for a wide range of foods, but there are some foods that are particularly well-suited to steaming. Here are some examples:
- Vegetables: Steaming is an excellent way to cook vegetables, as it helps to retain their natural flavours, colours, and nutrients. Vegetables that are particularly well-suited to steaming include broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and green beans.
- Seafood: Steaming is a gentle cooking method that is well-suited to delicate seafood, such as fish, shrimp, and scallops. Steaming seafood helps to preserve its texture and flavour, making it a popular cooking method for dishes such as steamed fish fillets and shrimp dumplings.
- Dumplings: Steaming is the traditional cooking method for many types of dumplings, such as Chinese dim sum and Japanese gyoza. Steaming helps to cook the filling and the wrapper evenly, and it also helps to prevent the dumplings from sticking to each other.
- Rice and grains: Steaming is a great way to cook rice and grains, as it helps to cook them evenly and prevents them from becoming mushy. Steaming is particularly useful for cooking sticky rice, which requires a specific cooking method to achieve the right texture.
- Eggs: Steaming is an excellent way to cook eggs, as it helps to cook them evenly and makes them easy to peel. Steamed eggs can be served on their own or used as an ingredient in other dishes. You can also make Chinese steamed eggs, which is fluffy and delicious.
What is Boiling Food?
Boiling is a cooking method that involves submerging food in boiling water, normally in a pot. In this method, the food is placed in a pot or pan with enough liquid to cover it completely, and then the liquid is heated until it boils. Once the liquid reaches boiling point, the food is cooked by being submerged in the hot liquid.
Boiling is a popular cooking method for a variety of foods, such as pasta, rice, potatoes, and vegetables. It is a quick and easy method of cooking, and it requires minimal equipment. Additionally, boiling can also help to tenderise tough cuts of meat.
However, one drawback of boiling is that it can cause some loss of nutrients and flavours from the food, especially if the cooking liquid is not used as part of the final dish, as water-soluble vitamins and nutrients leach into the water. Additionally, over-boiling can lead to overcooking and can result in a mushy texture or loss of shape for some foods.
Overall, boiling is a simple and efficient cooking method that can be used for a variety of foods, but it is important to monitor the cooking process closely to avoid overcooking or nutrient loss.
Best Boiled Foods
Boiling is a popular cooking method that is well-suited to many types of foods, but there are some foods that are particularly well-suited to boiling. Here are some examples:
- Pasta: Boiling is the traditional cooking method for pasta, as it helps to cook the pasta evenly and quickly. Boiling also helps to release the starches in the pasta, which can help to thicken sauces.
- Potatoes: Boiling is a common cooking method for potatoes, as it helps to cook them evenly and makes them easy to mash. Boiled vegetables tend to get a bad reputation, but boiled potatoes never could.
- Beans: Boiling is a great way to cook beans, as it helps to soften them and release their flavours. Before boiling vegetables, beans should be soaked overnight and then boiled in freshwater or directly in the cooking liquid to minimise diminished nutrients.
- Soups and stews: Boiling is a popular cooking method for soups and stews, as it helps to blend the flavours of the ingredients and create a rich, hearty broth.
- Corn on the cob: While steaming vegetables is generally the best option, when it comes to corn on the cob, boiling is the traditional option for good reason. It helps to cook the corn quickly and evenly, and helps to release the natural sugars in the corn, which makes it taste sweeter.
Is Steaming Better Than Boiling?
Boiling and steaming are both useful cooking methods, and which one is better will depend on the type of food being cooked and personal preferences. However, steaming is often considered to be a healthier cooking option than boiling, especially when it comes to preparing vegetables.
When food is boiled, some nutrients can leach out into the cooking liquid, and some vitamins can be lost through exposure to heat and air. In contrast, steaming helps to retain the natural flavours, colours, and nutrients of the food, making it a healthier cooking method. This is because steaming cooks food using hot vapour, without submerging it in liquid, so the nutrients are not lost to the cooking water.
Additionally, steaming is a gentle cooking process that helps to preserve the texture of the food and prevent overcooking. This is especially important for delicate foods, such as vegetables and seafood, which can become mushy or lose their shape when boiled.
However, boiling can be a quicker and easier cooking method, and it can also add flavour to some foods, such as soups and stews. It is also useful for cooking foods that need to be submerged in liquid, such as pasta and rice.
Ultimately, both steaming and boiling have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best cooking method will depend on the specific food you’re cooking, and your desired outcome!