Millenia ago humans found creative ways to steam food by burying leaf-wrapped food under hot sands, using the steam from hot springs, or enclosing food in clay and placing it on fire.
Since such primitive ways of cooking, technologies advanced to making earthenware pots, later on metal pots and pans, grills, ovens, just to name a few, but practically all cuisines all over the world use some kind of steaming.
Chinese cuisine is particularly rich in steaming recipes, but Middle Eastern and North American specialties also use this technique in couscous, legumes, vegetables and seafood recipes.
Steamed food is healthy, preserves authentic flavours, but can be enhanced by the use of herbs and spices. Steamed foods are cooked in their own juicers, and if done properly, can display more intense flavours. Ginger, garlic, fresh herbs, spices and condiments can be use successfully.
There are various types of steamers:
Metal basket steamer is readily available and inexpensive. The perforated collapsible metal steamer is placed in the bottom of a pot with sufficient water to reach just below the base.
Bamboo steamer is the traditional Chinese vessel of cooking. Made of bamboo, it has a slatted bottom that allows the steam to pass up and though; it is placed in a wok and closed with a lid.
Several layers of bamboo steamers can be employed to make it economical, and allows steaming of a range of foods at the same time.
Electric steamers or rice cookers come in a range of capacities and styles. They take the guesswork out of cooking and can be times according to recipe instructions. They are practical, particularly if large quantities are being cooked.