When Is The Best Time To Season Steamed Food?

Roasting is a cooking method that gets a lot of attention when it comes to developing layers of flavors. But steaming, which has the opposite reputation, shouldn't be scoffed at so quickly. With a multitude of culinary and health-related advantages, steaming food can be a great cooking method — as long as you do it correctly. Naturally, part of successfully steaming foods is knowing when to season, and for the most delicious outcome, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

An indirect cooking method, Whole Foods Market shares that steaming cooks foods by trapping the vapor from boiling water. Often food is placed in a steamer or bamboo basket over a pot of boiling liquid and covered with a lid. However, foods can also be steamed in the microwave or even using a technique known as en papillote, which traps steam as food cooks in a parchment paper pouch.

Almost any vegetable or protein can be steamed, making the method versatile, in addition to being simple and healthy. Preserving the highest concentration of water soluble, heat resistant nutrients, Healthline states that steaming reduces vitamin C by less than 15%, which is significantly better than other methods. Plus, steaming doesn't require the use of any fats as a cooking lubricant. However, that can also mean steamed foods have the potential to be bland if you don't season them properly or at an inopportune time.

Prior to steaming, layer on the seasoning

There are different approaches as to how steamed foods can best be seasoned to impart the maximum amount of flavor. For example, one might choose to infuse the cooking liquids with aromatics or even swap the water for steaming with broth, beer, wine or vinegar, as Consumer Reports suggests. While this might fill the kitchen with wonderful fragrances and increase the complexity of seasoned food, alone, it's not enough to significantly improve the taste.

Instead, The New York Times states that the best way to develop big and bold flavors when steaming vegetables and proteins is to lay the food on a bed of aromatics. Moreover, Slurrp also suggests dressing foods (with spices, herbs, rubs, or marinades) prior to cooking and adding foods to the steamer basket only once the water is boiling to avoid any seasoning falling off — doing this will ensure steamed foods always pack a punch.

However, even if you forget to season food prior to steaming or lose it during cooking, all hope isn't lost. Simply toss your vegetables in some melted compound butter, and watch as the dish comes back to life!