Steaming is the most gentle way to cook vegetables, chicken, and seafood because the food is placed over (and not in) boiling water in a covered pot or steamer. It's also one of the healthiest ways to cook because it does not require any added fat. It also does a better job than other cooking processes of retaining a food's flavor, shape, color, texture, and many of the nutrients.
What to Steam
You can steam a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, chicken, and shellfish. For added flavor, steam food on a bed of herbs, scallions, lemon slices, or greens. Leafy greens—such as spinach or mustard greens—and shellfish, such as mussels and clams, are terrific possibilities for steaming.
Tips for Steaming
To steam foods, make sure the ingredients are not immersed in the water. Over a pot of water, add a collapsible pot or Chinese bamboo steamer, then add the foods you want to steam. Cover, bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cooking times vary, depending on the foods being steamed.