Steam Ovens, The Best Sous Chef in the Kitchen

When I began cooking with the Gaggenau Steam oven back in 1999, it was clear that the oven had been thoughtfully designed based on professional cooking principles. While the concept of Steaming food was easy to grasp, less obvious was the benefit of the different levels of heat and humidity for specific types of cooking.


It was clear from studying the product guide and learning about the different cooking capabilities that the chefs and engineers who developed the technology did so based on the science of cooking. Now all we had to do was understand how using heat and humidity in different combinations aided in achieving spectacular results.


Adapting Professional Tools for Home Use


While I may have been in awe of the oven's features, like most people my home cooking is for the most part pretty straightforward, simple healthy meals with plenty of vegetables. The many clients I worked with made it clear while they were excited about the concept of the oven they also needed fairly simple directions to get started cooking with the oven.


The first recipes we received for the steam oven came from classically trained chefs and were of restaurant quality, very impressive, but we needed a simpler approach to get started. With frequent use, it didn’t take long for us to realize how the cooking of many different foods could be adapted to being cooked in the Steam oven, no special recipes needed, and it quickly became our go-to oven.


How Does the Steam Oven Make Food Preparation Easier?


Once the steam oven is set in the Steam mode, then you can add pans with different foods and they can all cook simultaneously. All you have to do is monitor the timing, and there will be no transfer of flavor between the foods.

Orzo pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and broccoli salad
2 Salads Steamed at the Same Time

If the components of your meal include some type of grain, vegetables, fish or shellfish, hard-boiled eggs, or bone-in chicken, all those items can be steamed at the same time. So instead of monitoring 3 or 4 pans on the cooktop, just put the pans in the Steam oven and set the timer.


There will be no messy cooktop to clean from boil-overs and, the pans can go in the dishwasher.


Best of all while the food is cooking in the Steam oven, you can focus on preparing other elements of the meal; and I promise you will find this is a much less stressful way to cook. So, whenever a recipe mentions, boiling, blanching, poaching, or steaming, all those functions can be performed in the Steam mode in the Steam oven and often with better results.


What Other Ways can the Steam Oven Make Cooking Easier?


Once you grasp the concept of the Steam oven as a sous-chef you will quickly come to rely on your sous-chef to perform a variety of functions.

  • Defrosting without cooking the food: defrosting is one of the best features of the oven, only the ice crystals will dissolve leaving the food fresh looking and ready to cook. Containers of frozen homemade stock or soup can be placed in the oven to soften slightly before being transferred to a saucepan for heating.

  • Proofing yeast dough: the Steam oven provides the perfect environment for proofing and there is no need to cover the bowl.

  • Gentle cooking without the need for a water bath: now there is absolutely no reason for you not to make crème caramel, savory custard, or cheesecake.

  • When you have the time and a vacuum sealing machine, you can prepare exceptional meals using the sous vide function.

  • I find that cooking lean tender cuts of meat in the Low-Temperature cooking mode, is a great way to cook meats when entertaining. The oven meat probe can be programmed to monitor the internal temperature of the meat and all it will need is a high-heat sear prior to serving.

  • There is no transfer of flavor when cooking in Steam or Convection so complete meals can be cooked or reheated at one time.

Remember you are the conductor, so plan the jobs you want the oven to perform and it won’t disappoint.


Technology and the Steam Oven


Many Steam ovens feature a library of automatic programs that can help users unfamiliar with the appliance get started with their cooking. In order for the sensors to be able to cook the food accurately you may be asked to enter the weight, so keep a scale handy.


My Steam oven features an option for me to record recipes while cooking and then save the cooking steps. This is especially useful for dishes you cook frequently, all you have to do is call up the recipe and you will not have to change any temperatures and humidity levels during the cooking.


If the manufacturer of your appliances has a Smart app you may find there are many resources available to you by pairing your appliance and using the app to monitor the cooking. You may also be able to make changes to the cooking program by giving a command to your Virtual Assistant.


Stay tuned for my next post Cooking for Kids and Adults. Convection and Steam ovens are great tools for those of you who are juggling having to accommodate different food tastes at the dinner table.


In the meantime please visit the Convection Steam Recipe section on my website for inspiration on cooking a variety of foods using the different modes in your Convection Steam oven or check out the Start Your Convection Steam Playlist on my YouTube channel


Larissa, Your Convection and Steam Oven Enthusiast

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