More and more commercial chefs today are embracing multi-modal cooking. This general cooking philosophy emphasizes the use of different processes, whether roasting, baking, smoking, and frying. Better yet, by investing in a quality combi oven, a chef can accomplish all of these things using one single appliance.
The best combi ovens on the market today also have the ability to cook foods using steam. Unfortunately, some food professionals still don’t fully recognize the incredible benefits of steam cooking. This article takes a closer look at four good reasons to begin utilizing steam cooking in your commercial kitchen.
Gentle, Even Cooking
Some mistakenly assume that steam cooking leaves foods wet and soggy. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, once the steam has passed its heat on the food, the leftover steam is recaptured and removed from the system. Foods remain perfectly moist, but never wet.
More important, steam cooking ensures that foods never dry out, as commonly happens with other cooking methods. The difference has to do with the way heat flows through the oven. Dry heat radiates slowly, meaning that certain parts of a food item will absorb heat at different rates based on their proximity to the heat source.
This phenomenon is precisely why dry heat methods often lead to unevenly cooked foods. Steam, by contrast, moves quickly throughout the oven, naturally seeking out the coolest parts of food items and rapidly bringing them up to temperature. Steam cooking also means that foods are never at risk of becoming scorched or burned.
Steam cooking also promotes healthier foods in two key ways. To begin with, unlike boiling and other cooking techniques, the steaming process doesn’t sap vegetables of their nutrients. As a result, the food retains a maximum quantity of such vital nutrients as vitamin B, riboflavin, lycopene, and beta-carotene.
Steaming also has health benefits when it comes to cooking meat. Specifically, steam cooking helps to lower fat levels. On the one hand, the process itself doesn’t require additional fats, as with baking and frying. On the other hand, steaming even removes some of the natural fats, which melt right off the sides of the steaming meat. The result is leaner and a more healthful piece of meat.
When you cook foods with dry heat, moisture in the food itself is released into the air along with things like aromas and even flavors. These flavors often end up getting transferred to other items in the oven. To avoid this unwanted transfer, chefs often have to cook foods in shifts, taking pains to cook non-complementary items at the same time.
Steam cooking eliminates this unwanted phenomenon altogether. Instead, the flavors and aromas remain locked inside of the foods themselves. Not only does this increase the resulting taste of the food, but it allows different food items to cook safely side-by-side. Using steam cooking, kitchen managers can boost throughput by maximizing the space in their ovens.