Steam ovens are the future of cooking. While they might make you feel more virtuous, since steaming is one of the healthiest cooking techniques, they’re also surprisingly versatile.
The moist heat method cuts down on cook time while keeping the nutritional integrity and original look and mouth-feel of the ingredient.
But while steam ovens have been favoured in professional kitchens by chefs for decades, they’re relatively new to New Zealand households – and where there’s innovation, there’s also an appetite for education.
Here, we debunk the biggest steam oven myths, to show how you can take your steam cooking to the next level.
Myth 1: The types of food you can steam is limited
A steam oven can do more than cook fish, dumplings, rice and vegetables. Bread, pizza, cakes and even pork belly, can all benefit from steam, because the moist heat method helps you get a better rise, crispier crust, fluffier centre, and tastier textures – and in energy efficient time. Steam cooking tends to cut cook times by 20 percent – a bonus for busy households.
Myth 2: Steaming zaps food into soggy mush
Rather than too-soft carrot batons and grey green broccoli mush, cooking with steam ovens makes textures more tender and juicier and food colours, richer. Steam prevents your dishes from drying out since the hot air ensures the outside is sealed, while the steam keeps the inside tender, not mushy.
Myth 3: Steaming can’t create a crust
It can, especially when using the Bake + Steam function. The program is ideal when baking bread or other delicious flaky bakery goods. By using steam with this function, you’re able to create a hard crust on your cakes or pastries before they rise, which allows your food to retain its moisture and limit drying out as they rise and become pillow-soft.
Myth 4: A microwave works better than a steamer
With steam ovens, you get faster cook times than a conventional oven, though slower than a microwave – but a more even heating method. Microwaved food tends to dry out easily as the moisture evaporates when heated, while a steam oven continually adds extra moisture. Microwaves also won’t brown food like an Electrolux Steam Oven will. Plus, steam oven reheat functions for specific foods also reinvigorate them to their original glory – think fresh-out-of-the-box pizza and al dente pasta.
Myth 5: Steaming is messy work
A steam oven isn’t hard to clean – at most a little moisture will need wiping up at the end of cooking. But if you’ve cooked something like a roast that splatters, you’ll need to clean the oven by hand. That’s unless you opt for a pyrolytic oven, better known as a self-cleaning oven, which uses extreme heat to turn your grime into ash to be simply wiped away.
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Cookbook author, lifestyle and entertaining expert