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Nov 19, 2012 08:19 PM


when i look up steaming they all say to use a steamer basket or something to suspend food above water....ok i get that. but u also steam if i bake something with a cover ,like foil. i am holding in the steam,sooooo i am steaming the item here too,right? or say i use a foil packet to steam food too. so why doesnt it mention these types of steaming when u look up steaming. what would be the difference between foil pack veg. in oven ,,,,steamed this way and one done with a steamer basket?

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  1. i cant answer your question, but i guess i would like to know is a steaming pouch not a braise? if not, is it because you generally dont cook it as long in the pouch, or is the heat higher than you would do in a braise?

    1. When using the steam, nearly all of the heat transfer is via steam - the basket separates it from the hot pan or the boiling water. With a foil pouch, the food rests on a hot surface, and generates its own steam. Note also that with steaming, the stream does not convey much flavor. The pouch is more like braising.

      Another way of cooking that involves steam is microwave in a covered vessel, for example vegetables with a little bit of water in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. The microwaves vaporize water in the bowl (and food). The resulting steam speeds up the cooking, and makes it more uniform. The plastic balloons under the steam pressure, and then forms a shrink wrap when that steam cools and condenses.

      1. still would like to know when u look up steaming it usually says in a basket over boiling water... suspended above water. yet foil pouch is steaming ,micr. is steaming as said above etc... but dont see pouch or micr. used in the def. of steam .....just what i said about basket or suspended over water? why wouldnt these few examples be included in the def. of steam?

        2 Replies
        1. re: walnut

          Because steaming in a steamer became came into common use before the invention of foil.

          En papillote is perhaps the closest classic technique to your foil packets.
          "En papillote (French for "in parchment"), or al cartoccio in Italian, is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper|parchment, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food."

          So yes, the food does steam, but the method is named for the 'container', not the cooking medium. It's quite common for cooking terms to refer to the apparatus or contain. Ultimately terms are used because they are useful, not because they technically corrected in every detail.

          1. re: walnut

            Just because a cooking method may create steam that comes into contact with the food, doesn't make it steaming. The other methods involve food being in direct contact with a liquid, which has different culinary and nutritional effects such as creating a broth or sauce, washing out nutrients, and so on. The basket method isolates the food from the liquid and preserves its integrity..

          2. if i were to do lasg. covered. what would u call it steam baked? the noodles would cook being covered in the steam, and what if do a whole chicken covered in a roasting pan .....steam baked,bec, if say just steamed chicken u would think of the steaming over suspeneded water

            1. By your standards, anything cooked partially or totally covered would be steamed, because when heat drives water out of food that water is turned to steam. The dictionary definition of steaming applies to external steam being used to cook the food, no dry heat involvded, rather than steam that comes from within the food as it heats up.