In Finland, they have a saying “there’s more than one way to
roast a reindeer.” Although reindeer meat isn’t a common dish away from the
northerly-most Arctic communities, it’s an apt little phrase for the modern
kitchen, wherever you happen to be.
Take anything you wish to roast, and you are spoilt for
choice with regards to how to do it these days. There are so many different
cooking appliances out there.
One such example is the steam oven. Most of us will have
heard of steamers - those tall contraptions that are designed to help you stop
boiling your Sunday vegetables to a grey mush - but a steam oven? How does that
Before anyone gets any elaborate visions of cooking machines
powered by steam engines, steam ovens do, in fact, work in a very similar way
to an old-fashioned steamer, using the heat from steam to do the cooking. The
main difference is capacity - steam ovens come in the size and shape of a
standard oven, which means you can fit a lot more into them.
More often or not, you will find a steam oven setting as one
of several options as part of a multi-function unit, along with conventional
and convection functions.
Cooking on steam
But what is the difference between all three, and how does
the steam part work? A standard oven cooks by making the air trapped inside the
unit hot. This is fine, but conventional ovens do not produce consistent heat
throughout. Hot air naturally rises, and the closer you get to the heat source,
the hotter it gets. This makes it easy to burn some things while other food in
the same oven is still undercooked.
Convection ovens solve this with the addition of a simple
fan - hence the term ‘fan-assisted’ - which circulates the hot air more evenly
around the unit. Again, this is great, it speeds up cooking times and gives a
nice consistent temperature which helps to produce better quality roasts and
baked goods. But the downside is that all that hot air circulating can easily
dry out your food.
That is where steam comes into its own. By adding a
container or reservoir of water to the oven, when it heats up, it fills with
steam instead of hot air.
Great, I hear you say - but who needs to steam two or three
shelves full of vegetables at a time? Well that is where the word needs to get
out about steam cooking. It is far, far more versatile than most people think.
Put simply, anything you can cook in a conventional oven, you can also cook
using steam. All you are doing is switching the cooking medium from hot air to
hot water vapour. And this also has several advantages.
Steam carries heat more efficiently than air, which means a
steam oven delivers a more consistent temperature without the need for a fan
and also cooks faster. Steam also avoids the risk of your food drying out,
which also prevents burning. Another advantage is that it is thought the
moisture helps to lock-in more nutrients, making steam cooking healthier -
plus, you don’t have to douse food in fat like you do with a traditional roast.
Of course, there are times when we all want a little extra
crunch - roast potatoes with the outsides crisped to perfection in hot oil, a
roast joint with crackling - which is why it is common to see steam ovens
available in combination varieties. Why not pack as many options as possible
into a single unit?
Whichever type of oven you opt for, don’t forget to guard
against any mishaps with Row.co.uk’s fantastic value appliance insurance, starting at just £1.49 a month!
*The information in this blog is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. Please seek a professional for expert advice as we can not be held responsible for any damages or negative consequences upon following this information.