What's the first thing you think of when I say steam oven?
I think if you've even heard of one, you might be inclined to say that it's a great way to cook things like vegetables and rice. You may also be aware that cooking with steam is recognized as a very healthy way to cook because the ingredients are able to retain their nutrients throughout the cooking process.
However, in my experience, I've found that most people are surprised to learn what else a steam oven can do...
Yeah, that last photo is a pizza...
And these are cinnamon rolls...
Steam cooking has been popular in Asia for over 3000 years. Combination ovens (steam and convection combined) are a fixture in the most acclaimed European restaurants, bakeries as well as home kitchens. This cooking method is revered for its capacity to get exactly the right mix of heat and humidity for any dish -- crispy or flaky on the outside, moist and tender inside, in other words, predictably perfect.
A steam oven can defrost, proof, slow-cook, re-heat, bake, roast, steam, braise, blanch, brown, and poach. I've even heard of people using it to make preserves, pickles and other types of canning processes. You could bake a garlic sesame chicken for a main course, at the same time as a cherry pie for dessert and the flavors would not mingle. High on the list of compliments from users is the ability to re-heat leftovers without drying them out. Steam ovens have been touted as the future of cooking.
Some steam oven models have pre-set programs that take all the guesswork out of cooking. It's as easy as telling it the type of food you are putting in the oven -- anything from some frozen eggroll appetizers to soufflé or freshly made pizza. The oven's climate sensor then detects the volume, shape and consistency and adjusts time, temperature and humidity for guesswork-free, delicious results. Does it get any easier?
Are you interested in how they work? Why they can cook your food faster? Check out this great article about the magic in steam.
Some pro tips to consider while designing your kitchen to include a steam oven:
- Installation height is important. If it is too high or too low it can be cumbersome to load/unload the racks, especially is there liquid in the pan.
- Also you'll want to be able to see the inside bottom of the unit for cleaning.
- Some users mention proximity to a vent hood as a priority, as on some modes of use steam does escape into the room.
Chefs and novices alike are requesting that this appliance be included in their dream kitchen remodels.
While we don't see the steam oven replacing conventional ovens anytime soon, anyone who has hosted a dinner party will tell you, having multiple ovens is not a luxury, it's a necessity.