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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.

              1. All the replies so far rather illustrate that there are several ways of achieving a broadly similar steaming effect. I shouldn't fret too much if I were you.

                1. so what would u say or call covered lasg. baked or steam baked ?,same with covered chicken ....steamed baked or just steam chicken what would be the right choice of words? i know it doesnt matter what u call it ......but like to have a idea on the proper name for it ? thanks

                  1. It is clear from your previous posts that you are extremely focused on terminology. Have you EVER heard lasagna described as "steamed"? Of course not. That's your answer. Steam is a part of the physical and morphological changes that take place during many forms of cooking.
                    That is totally different from steaming as a cooking technique. If you can't accept that distinction, ignore it and use whatever descriptors you like for your own cooking. If you are writing recipes for others to use, employ the accepted definitions.

                    1. what throws me off is the baked pot. wrapped in foil people say steam.. so do u say baked or steam potatoe

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: walnut

                        Yes, people say that a potato wrapped in foil and baked steams. They do not mean that the result is the same as cooking that potato in a steamer basket, but that it retains more moisture than if it was baked unwrapped. Unwrapped moisture that evaporates in the potato escapes, leaving a potato that is drier and fluffier.

                      2. Nova Science Now's episode, "Can I Eat That?", has clearly visualized answers to the OP's ongoing confusion about the nature of steam and other cooking techniques.

                        1. thanks for all the advice. would like to share what i been told ,so i can share with you why i am confused. When baking chicken in a oven .....as chicken bakes steam is release and if u use foil to cover u are holding in the steam which actually steam bakes the chicken,. also baked potatoes wrapped in foil is called steam baked potatoes not just baked. so why is potatoes. called steam baked but chicken when baked covered just baked and not called steam bake chicken?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: walnut

                            because your intent when using the foil is to trap the heat while avoiding excessive browning and drying out-- the trapping of moisture is an unavoidable secondary side-effect.

                            I have never heard a foil-wrapped potato referred to as steam-baked, and a covered chicken is most certainly not steam baked (wet, rubbery, and pale yes, but not steam baked)

                            You wrap the lasagna with foil to keep the cheese from burning and to trap the heat inside the package. Every lasagna recipe I've ever seen then tells you to take the foil off at the end and return the dish to the oven so the cheese can brown and crisp.

                          2. Actual 'steam' occurs when water reaches 100C. You'll never get that in the 'home' kitchen'. Some hot vapor happens in foil pouches/steam baskets in a pot and lid. Better to think in terms of hot vapor cooking the food but not actually in any water.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Puffin3

                              "'steam' occurs when water reaches 100C. You'll never get that in the 'home' kitchen"

                              Really? So how hot is the water boiling on my stove?

                            2. I think many of the points to be made here have already been made in the other threads that you have started. What you call something is much less important than making and enjoying good food.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sandylc

                                Puffin's answer above is correct.

                                Steam cooking can be accomplished with vegetables, pasta, dim sum, couscous, meat, fish, or fowl in any covered container with a steam tray insert, or not. There is always a slight release of steam when cooking this way, but the benefit is lower temperature and faster cooking time, no oil or fat, a good melding of flavours, and a very moist dish to be served.

                                I steam cook Salmon stuffed with vegetables in garlic-herb-water in a roasting pan with a steam insert that raises the food above the level of the liquid. It is covered by a heavy lid, thus keeping the steam liquid in.

                                I also wrap the same stuffed Salmon tightly in foil, with a little water or wine, and cook it out on the BBQ, directly, or indirectly over the grill jets. That method with the Salmon is also steam cooking in it's own juices with the liquid, sealed in by the foil.

                                No pun intended, but still steaming.

                              2. and for the ones who never heard steam roasted chicken ,go to hillbilly housewife easy steam roasted chicken.Easy Steam Roasted Chicken

                                  1. re: walnut

                                    the recipe they give is most definitely baked. (roasted, actually)

                                    their statement (with which I do not agree, btw) is that a **foil-wrapped** potato is steamed.

                                    1. re: walnut

                                      As sunshine pointed out, the steaming applies to the foil wrapped.

                                      "You may have noticed that nowhere in these steps is there any mention of baking the potato in foil. That's because potatoes baked in foil don't bake, they steam — which produces a totally different texture, and won't give the potato a crispy skin."

                                      Obviously this isn't the same as cooking the potato in a steamer basket - at least the process is not the same. How does the texture (and color) differ, both for the interior and the skin?

                                      Rather than worry about how the word 'steam' is used, why don't you do some experiments. For example, bake one potato without wrapping, bake another covered with foil, and steam a third, and report the results.

                                    2. Here i my take; steaming vs. baking/roasting is all about the intended heat delivery method.

                                      Steaming requires an source of water/steam separate from the food item being cooked. When you steam something you apply heat to water, convert some of the water to steam and the steam then transfers heat to the food to cook it.

                                      In your examples (e.g. foil covered chicken) the heat is being applied directly to the food, either radiantly or by convection. The steam released from the food is merely incidental and is not the primary transporter of heat to the food.

                                      1. so u two would say the hill. house wife title is wrong? steam roasted chicken and sunshine every site i go to say if pot. is wrapped in foil it is considered steamed not baked.

                                        1. A lot of shinola in this thread.

                                          kmcarr hit the nail on the head "Steaming requires an source of water/steam separate from the food item being cooked"