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Chef Steve: Steaming Foods

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To help lower my high cholesterol my wife and I have taken to steaming a lot of our food. The problem is, it’s boring when compared to the foods my doctor has taken off my favorites list. Any suggestions? Steamed in Seattle.

Steaming food does not have to be boring at all. The trick is in making some strategic substitutions: for example, steaming is often recommended as a cooking strategy in place of frying and other methods, and though the results can seem a little plain you will be pleasantly surprised by the creative ways you can make steamed food delicious and exciting.

Steaming good plain food

Of course there is no substitute for the crispy caramelized crust of a roast or golden brown cheesy topping of a casserole dish, but it can be overcome by the ingredients that are used to steam and how they are handled. I always enjoy the Asian method of “clear steaming.” This involves using fragrant ingredients layered on top of whatever main ingredient you choose to cook:

  • Try a piece of chicken or fish topped with grated ginger, sliced hot chilies, and cilantro. There is nothing like fresh halibut or salmon, shrimp, or scallops with basil and lemongrass tossed in before steaming.
  • It’s okay to drizzle a bit of low-sodium soy sauce or tamari and dark-roasted sesame oil before eating.
  • Roasting a couple tablespoons of slivered almonds to sprinkle on top can add a tasty crunch to any savory dish.
  • Lemon and lime juices add a little extra zing to almost any vegetable.

You’ll find you can’t really go wrong with any of these options, so give them a try and see what you like.

Chef Steve Petusevsky, a graduate and former instructor of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, is a nationally syndicated columnist whose writing appears in Natural Health, Fine Cooking,the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, andthe Chicago Tribune.

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