Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Sensio Home Electric Food Steamer Review And Cooking Ideas

I’ve always known steam cooking is a great way to make healthy, low calories food, but in my head that is synonymous with boring and tasteless food (side note: always may be a small exaggeration). I didn’t see the point in getting an electric steamer, but I have used a bamboo steamer a few times (before it fell apart from getting too wet) and a metal collapsible steamer which goes in a saucepan. Both work fine for the occasional steaming need, but even if you have the right size pan they don’t have a lot of space so I hadn’t really explored cooking with steam until I was sent the 800w Sensio Home Stainless Steel 3 Tier Steamer to review.

The steamer set up and ready to go with roses and a welsh dresser in the back ground

About the Sensio Steamer


The Sensio Home Steamer has 3 clear plastic baskets which provide a huge capacity to cook food. The instructions say it has a total of 6.8 litres of space, but if that means as much to you as it does to me a more helpful description might be I can cook enough food for my whole family: two greedy adults, a 6 year old with hollow legs and a toddler who loves her food. When you want to cook smaller quantities you can choose to only cook with 1 or 2 tiers.

The steamer is so easy to use my toddler could do it, but obviously I keep it well away from her due to the risk of getting scalded with steam if you open the baskets while it is cooking. After the initial cleaning of it all as described in the instructions you put water in the reservoir at the bottom (filling it to somewhere between the minimum and maximum water lines) and place the drip tray on top. There is a water level indicator and a water top up drawer so you can add more water while the food is cooking if necessary. Put the food you want to cook in the “steaming bowls” and stack them on top of the steamer base unit with the lid on the top layer. Finally (once plugged in and turned on at the switch obviously) twist the dial round to the length of time you want to steam for (up to 60 minutes). When the time elapses the power light goes off and it makes a small noise to let you know to come and get your food.

Once you have enjoyed your delicious food (or boring food depending on what you want to cook) the cooking containers, lid and drip tray can be washed by you wearing your marigolds or by putting them in the dishwasher. The drip tray catches any of the steam which has turned back to water as well as any drips from the cooking food. This is handy to keep the water reservoir cleaner because it can’t go in the dishwasher or be submerged in water. When you put them away the baskets nest inside each other taking up less space for storage.

The 2 most challenging parts of having a steamer are working out what to cook and how to cook it. Vegetables are the obvious choice because steaming is a great way to maintain as many nutrients as possible, but you can also steam chicken and fish as well as parcels of food and rice. While experimenting and researching meal ideas I have found steamed food doesn’t have to be boring and it shouldn’t be bland. The vegetables have more flavour compared to boiling and other food just needs a little creativity to make up for what you might gain taste wise by frying or roasting.

A close up of the top tiers of the Sensio steamer cooking broccoli and salmon

Ideas To Add Flavour To Steamed Food


INFUSE: Experiment with putting vegetable or chicken stock, white wine, garlic or herbs in the water reservoir to infuse flavour through the food. The flavour will be subtle, but it works well with chicken breasts. The instructions recommend against using beer, red wine, oil, extracts or fruit juices because they might stain or damage the heating element.

MARINATE: You could marinate your food before putting it in the baskets to steam. Just use your favourite marinade or mix up a combination of flavours e.g. soy, garlic and ginger and leave your fish or meat to rest in it for a couple of hours before transferring to the steamer.

GLAZE: Using similar recipes to marinades make a thick sauce which you can apply to your food in the steaming basket before you turn the steamer on. The steam will make the glaze wetter so it needs to be very thick or a dry rub. You might want to rest your glazed food on cabbage leaves or similar while cooking to make it easier to clean up afterwards.

DRESS: Another option is to add flavour after the food is cooked. You could dress with fresh herbs, butter, a drizzle of oil, sauce or anything else your imagination (or Google) can come up with.

If you aren’t very good at experimenting then buying a cook book for cooking with steam is a must buy.

How To Cook The Food


Once you have worked out what you want to cook you have to decide which order to put them in the baskets and how long to cook them for. You can open the baskets during the cooking process, but the steam is obviously very hot and it will slow the cooking process a bit as you let the steam escape so it is much easier to load it up in one go and leave alone. 

There are two main aspects you can control when steaming the food: which tier the food is in (the bottom tier will cook slightly faster than the top one) and the size of the pieces of food. For my first meal attempt I cooked: new potatoes, salmon fillets and broccoli stems. I guessed the potatoes would take longest so I put them at the bottom, I also cut them up so they were all a similar size and not too big. I put the salmon in the middle layer and the broccoli on top. In just over 20 minutes the food was all beautifully cooked. Even without adding anything to flavour the food the steam meant it was all moist and full of flavour. 

A plate of boiled potatoes, broccoli and salmon

Other Ideas


I am getting more adventurous in the food I cook with the steamer, but I have also found I am regularly using it to cook vegetables as they taste better than boiling. In fact I generally think of a new thing to steam every time I get round to putting it  back in the box and I have to get it out again. I should probably just leave it out. One of my favourites so far is cooking gyoza. I am a bit of a dumpling addict so I buy big frozen bags of them. I used to partially fry the gyoza before adding water and a lid and steaming them. The biggest problem with my old way is that the biggest lid I have only fits on my medium size frying pan severely limiting the number I could cook at a time, a particular issue if anyone else wanted any too. With the Sensio Home Steamer I can cook at many as I want and it only takes 5 minutes. 

The instruction booklet has a number of suggestions of what you can cook and the timings for each, but it is no substitute for just trying it. Most food is forgiving on timings so you shouldn’t have a problem (but make sure chicken is cooked through before eating). The most interesting suggestion in the instructions is that you can hard boil eggs in it. There are 8 little grooves in each basket so you can cook a total of 24 hardboiled eggs in one go. I don’t know when I would ever need to do this, but I love that I have the option.

The steamer on with the three steaming bowls full of steam

The Negatives


The Sensio Steamer has converted me to cooking with steam, but there are a few aspects that some people might not like.

The plastic baskets feel quite brittle and I suspect they would shatter if dropped on my tiled kitchen floor. I have discovered through experience that my ceramic plates and pyrex jugs also shatter when dropped on the floor so I think the answer is either not to knock things on the floor or to get rubber flooring.

The cooking time is controlled by a timer and it is hard to set precise times, I don’t use precision in my cooking so it’s not an issue for me, but if you feel you need to cook something for 12 minutes and 16 seconds you can always set a timer on your phone. 

The steamer starts to produce steam within seconds of being turned on and quickly starts producing lots of it. If you are using a steamer on your hob you can control how vigorously the water boils and have less steam which would cook your food more slowly. Again I’m not sure why you would want too and I don’t think it would make much difference to the end result, but my research suggests that this might be an issue for some. As a side note here (and because I know people don’t normally read instruction booklets cover to cover) steam escapes while the steamer is on, this has to happen or at some point the lid would go flying off as the pressure built up. The steam is hot and isn’t great for cabinets so it shouldn’t be placed underneath any. We have a couple of cabinet doors with steam damage from repeated kettle boiling by the previous owner and I imagine the length of time the steamer is on for it could cause damage quite quickly.

The Sensio Home Steamer is one more gadget to make space for in your kitchen. My redundant collapsible steamer takes up hardly any space in a drawer whereas the electric steamer takes up a good chunk of space on my work top or in my cupboard. It’s ability to cook so much is part of the reason I am using mine so regularly though and a kitchen gadget which is used regularly is always worth having. You don’t even need to have it in the kitchen, you just need a stable surface (out of the reach of little hands) near a plug socket. 


***Disclosure: I received the Sensio Home Stainless Steel 3 tier steamer for the purpose of review. All thoughts and words are my own apart from where otherwise stated.***


SHARE:

11 comments

  1. I’ve often wondered about getting a steamer and how effective they are! This sounds great and I love the meal ideas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was impressed and I definitely think it's worth getting over hob top steamers

      Delete
  2. Ooh I’ve been thinking about getting a steamer as we love fish and it’s always delicious steamed! This sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great and with the size you would be able to get large fillets or medium sized whole fish in flat

      Delete
  3. We love our steamer and use it most days, I love steamed veggies they have so much more flavour than boiled. this looks fab!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really does make a difference doesn't it

      Delete
  4. This looks good, especially as it stacks as it's one of those things that always takes up space. I fancy a fryer for the occasional naughty chips and recipes but know it would just take up too much room! I tend to steam all my veg in the microwave but this looks good for meat and fish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have wanted a fryer for such a long time, but I have worried that I would just experiment with frying EVERYTHING and my weight would balloon. I need more moderation like you

      Delete
  5. Steamed veg are so much nicer than soggy boiled ones - we always steam broccoli and runner beans. It's just as quick too. Love the look of the Sensio steamer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We actually have my nan's 3 tier glass steamer and we never use it! It's not as fancy as this as it's an over the hob one but I really should make some use out of it sometime! This looks like a great Nd slightly easier alternative!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really need to get a steamer in my life! This one looks fab x

    ReplyDelete

BLOGGER TEMPLATE MADE BY pipdig