Steaming vegetables and seafood or chicken is one of the healthiest ways to prepare food. It allows the food to retain a maximum of nutrients and flavor, as well as color. Microwave steaming is a fast and convenient way to prepare a variety of recipes, from vegetables to fish and chicken breasts.
Microwave steamers will cook your food much faster than a conventional stovetop steamer. For best results, start with only one or two minutes and check for readiness. It is best to boil the water in the steamer tray before adding the basket with your vegetables or fish. Your vegetables will cook more uniformly if they are cut in a similar way and size. For example, you might like to cut your carrots into spears, or into coins, which are just rounds cut from the bottom to the top of the carrot.
The smaller you cut your vegetables, the faster they will cook. Be very careful not to let them steam for more than two minutes at a time. Medium to low power will produce better results than high power, which can quickly overcook your food and make it mushy. You can either add more time or allow your food to sit, tightly covered for a couple more minutes if you find that the vegetables are not cooked to your liking.
Also, remember that microwave steamers work best with small portions. You can steam up to six portions of food at a time, but will need to steam in batches if you prepare food for more people. You can also steam frozen vegetables, following the steps outlined above.
Fish and Chicken
Steam fish following the two minute suggestion. To test the fish to see if it is done, take a fork and try to lightly flake it at the thickest section. Fillets will cook better than whole fish, and once cooked it will change from a translucent color to an opaque appearance. Fish cooks very quickly and becomes dried out if overcooked, so it is especially important to steam a fillet for two minutes to start out with, and add time as needed. You may wish to steam your vegetables alongside your fish fillet, if you have room in your steamer basket. In that case, it is advisable to microwave on low to medium power for three to four minutes, and then check to see if done. If the food is not done, cover tightly and add a minute at a time until ready.
Chicken breasts take longer than fish to cook. Follow the same steps as for fish or vegetable, but start with at least three minutes before checking to see if fully cooked. You can tell if the chicken breast is fully cooked by cutting into the thickest section, and making sure that it is not pink, but has turned white.
As microwave models vary in size and strength, you will want to experiment using your microwave steamer until you get the desired results. Your steamer basket will have a vent, which should be left open as an escape valve.