Steam power

A healthier, faster way to cook
Monday, July 23, 2012
By Alexis Gavin

Ever wondered how restaurants are able to prepare such mouthwatering delectable dishes in such an amazingly short amount of time?

The answer is steam.

What professional chefs and European home cooks have known for years is convection steam cooking seals in freshness, flavour and vitamins to bring out the very best in food.

Steam oven cooking is a strong emerging trend in kitchens and steam-convection combinations offer the best of both worlds.

There is a preconceived notion that steam only cooks vegetables. In reality, steam has extraordinary capabilities.

The legacy of the “combination steam oven” goes back decades to innovative restaurant chefs in America and Europe who embraced the gentle combination of air movement with superheated steam to achieve superior cooking results and the ability to prepare an incredible range of foods. Unique automatic cooking modes sense the amount, size and shape of food once a mode has been selected.

Steam is proven to decrease the cooking time of all foods by up to 25 per cent and can easily cook multiple types of food at once, saving valuable time. Cooking with steam helps food maintain a high-level of moisture and increases vitamin retention by up to 22 per cent. In addition, steam naturally seals in flavours and juices, eliminating the need to add oil or salt to the cooking process. This leads to flavourful, healthful meals for the whole family.

The convection steam oven combines the benefits of convection heat and steam. Virtually any dish prepared in a conventional oven can be prepared in a steam oven, with more control over the finished product. Meals that used to require multiple appliances, pots and pans can now be prepared beautifully with just one, offering space-saving solutions in many kitchens.

Cooks have long appreciated the way steam cooking preserves nutrients and keeps foods moist but a convection steam oven can make steam do so much more. A traditional steam oven cooks by heating water from a built in reservoir to inject steam into the oven cavity. As the steam heats the food, it locks in the moisture and nutrients to give the best possible results. It even re-heats food using the same principles, which makes leftovers taste like they were freshly made. Steam cooking also doesn’t release odours, which makes it the ideal appliance for open plan kitchens.

Most steam ovens will fit into a 24-inch opening and are available in sleek stainless steel with black or clear glass to accent most of today’s kitchen appliances. Mounted above an oven or below a countertop, the options are endless.

Non-plumbed models allow for ease of installation anywhere in the kitchen without the need for additional plumbing or expense. Look for a unit with a reservoir located outside the oven cavity. Not only does this allow the water reservoir to be filled without opening the oven door and interrupting the cooking process but it also offers a larger oven cavity, allowing for larger pans, which means cooking more in a shorter period of time.

Temperature probes also allow for more versatility and they take the guesswork out of slow cooking and roasting.

Alexis Gavin is showroom manager for Bradlee Distributors Inc. in Richmond, B.C.

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