Steaming is an age-old technique that can be applied to almost any cuisine, as long as you have the right tools. It can be used to cook a variety of different foods, including vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs, and dumplings.

As a cooking method, steamed food cooking has never gotten the credit it deserves. All that is changing now as people become more health-conscious, and are looking for ways to reduce their intake of unhealthy fats and oils. Steaming is a simple and effective cooking method that preserves the natural nutrients and flavors of food while minimizing the need for added fats and oils.

In Asian countries, steaming is widely used for cooking as the process does not require the use of fats or oil like pan-frying. Food cooked in this manner rarely ends up getting overcooked, ensuring that your food retains its nutritional value.

Steaming is also a very convenient way to cook because of the minimum amount of effort it requires. All you need is a pot with a steamer dish or a steamer basket. Once all that is in check, add some water, turn up the heat to a boil, place your food in the steamer, and wait a couple minutes for it to heat or cook.

Ready for some steamed, wholesome flavors at home? Here are five tasty, Asian-inspired ideas to get you started.

  1. Steamed Chicken with Radish and Red Dates
    Delicious and healthy, steamed chicken with radish and red dates is a must-try, and not just during Chinese New Year.  Using it in soups can also boost your immunity. Simply rub salt and pepper on a whole chicken and stuff it with sliced ginger, white radish, and red dates. Pop the chicken into the steamer and serve when done.

    Always a hit during Chinese New Year – Steamed Chicken with Radish and Red Dates. (Photo: Soy-Ginger)

  1. Thai-Style Steamed Sea Bass
    This Thai-style steamed sea bass dish is covered in garlic and chilies, making it the perfect dish for any occasion. Start by applying salt to the fish’s interior and exterior, and stuff the cavity with lemongrass. Make a lime and chili dressing by simmering chicken or fish stock in a saucepan and adding palm sugar, garlic, and shallots. Toss in the chilies, fish sauce, and lime juice. Once you’re done, steam the fish and serve with the dressing poured all over. Finally, garnish with coriander, and serve.

    This Thai-style Steamed Sea Bass dish get its punchy flavors from garlic and chilies. (Photo: Food Gawker)

  1. Lettuce-Wrapped Steamed Chicken Breast
    You’ll be amazed at how tasty and healthy this lettuce-wrapped chicken breast dish is! Simply fill the lettuce wraps with strips of chicken breast that have been sliced thinly, along with any other vegetables that you wish to include. Once the wraps are steamed, serve with noodles and sauces of your choice!

    Indulge in this heart-healthy Lettuce-Wrapped Steamed Chicken Breast. (Photo: Singapore Heart Foundation)

  1. Chawanmushi Kabocha
    This Japanese teacup dessert is made with steamed egg custard. A soft, smooth texture with rich umami flavor is achieved by steaming kabocha (a Japanese winter squash) and tofu. First, remove excess water from the tofu with paper towels, then mash it. Pop the mashed tofu into the freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, stir mushroom dashi (soup stock) soy sauce, salt, and Japanese saké into a saucepan to prepare the chawanmushi (egg custard) sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and lower the heat to a simmer. Whisk kuzu (arrowroot) with water to make a paste, and thicken with a whisk. Finish the dish by adding kabocha and chawanmushi sauce to the steamed tofu.

    Chawanmushi Kabocha – a delicate Japanese dessert made with steamed egg custard (incorporating tofu). (Photo: TokyoPony)

  1. Xiao Long Bao
    Xiao Long Bao, or Chinese dumplings, are steam-cooked dumplings stuffed with chicken or pork and a delicious broth commonly found in Chinese restaurants. For variation, stuff dumpling skins with meat and veggies for a quick and delicious alternative to the classic. Fold each in your preferred technique, and steam for a few minutes. Once cooked, serve the dumplings on a plate with dipping sauce.

    Xiao Long Bao are steam-cooked dumplings stuffed with chicken or pork. (Photo: Vind)

Tip: Steaming can also be used to make cakes with a batter of eggs, sugar, cake flour, oil, and milk. Compared to conventional oven-baked cakes, steamed cakes are extra soft, moist and delicate.