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Lessons from the Test Kitchen: Steamed Fish

I love butter, but I can’t bear the inches it adds to my waistline. This year, I resolved to reduce fat in my family’s diet, so I began seeking solutions that won’t sacrifice flavor in my recipes. That’s when I rediscovered one of the simplest cooking methods – steaming.

Steaming is a moist-heat cooking method whereby food is placed over, but not touching, simmering water. Steaming helps food retain its nutrients and seal in flavor. It’s a quick cooking method as well, making it perfect for weeknight dinners. It takes less than ten minutes to boil the water, and nearly any seafood or cut vegetable will be cooked in five to ten minutes.

There are many steamers available for purchase. I use a collapsible metal steamer basket that I bought at Schnucks. It is perfect for steaming vegetables and shell fish like shrimp and mussels. It’s not ideal, however, for fish fillets or chicken breasts. For those, I prefer to make my own “steamer” using a large skillet and Pyrex pie plate. I make flattened balls of aluminum foil that raise the pie plate over simmering water. Place some of your favorite sauce in the pie plate, then arrange your fish over the sauce. Cover the skillet with a lid, or if your skillet doesn’t have a lid, cover tightly with heavy-duty foil or place a second skillet on top to cover. There’s no need to turn the fish over, so resist lifting the lid to peek at the fish.

Fish fillets, in particular, benefit from steaming. Because they are so delicate, by arranging them flat in the dish over water, you don’t risk their breaking apart. Plus, the fish cooks in its own juices creating its own highly-flavored sauce. I encourage you to try the recipe below and watch my recipe video at schnuckscooks.com. Low in fat and calories, it utilizes many ingredients found in most pantries and can be on the table in 20 minutes!