Healthy Cooking Techniques Guide
Foods cooked en papillote are encased in parchment paper and baked. The foods are cooked by trapped steam.
Culinary Institute of America
When people think of healthy cooking, steaming is probably the cooking technique they think of first. Foods most suited to steaming are healthy ones like vegetables, fruits, seafood, and poultry breasts. Steamed foods retain nutrients because they do not come into direct contact with the cooking liquid, and the foods are prepared without the addition of fats or oils.
The primary challenge of steamed foods is keeping the food from tasting dull or bland. Introducing additional flavors with a buttery sauce is anathema to healthy cooking. Adding aromatics to the steaming liquid can help, as can using liquids like broth or juice. Reheating steamed vegetables with a quick sauté, perhaps adding garlic or scallions, is another way to add flavor. Pan steaming and cooking en papillote are two steaming variations that can also solve this problem handily.
Many cuisines have evolved flavorful steaming techniques. Foods can be combined with a sauce or pungent aromatics in a dish, and then set in the steamer. Other options include wrapping foods in banana leaves or corn husks. Some wrappers add a bit of their own flavor, others permit you to introduce seasonings, aromatics, stuffings, and toppings that can be held in place as the food steams.
Large steamers are an effective way to prepare foods in batches, especially for volume operations. It is just as important to assure that foods to be steamed are properly flavored as they cook, as well as after they are fully cooked and ready to be served.
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