Times for Steaming Vegetables

Times Staff Writer

Question: I would appreciate information on the steaming of vegetables of all kinds. I am primarily interested in cooking times and not methods.

Answer: We were unable to find a concise timeable or chart, perhaps because the degree to which vegetables are cooked is influenced by personal preference. The following information from “Reader’s Digest Secrets of Better Cooking” (Reader’s Digest Assn. Inc.: 1973) does include the cooking method, but other readers may find this helpful.

“Vegetables--whole, or pared and cut into serving pieces, or sliced or diced--can be cooked by steaming. However, green vegetables cooked by this method do not retain the beautiful green color, which they keep if blanched.


“First, use a thick stainless-steel or enameled cast iron saucepan. Add just enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan. The liquid can be water, bouillon or consomme, homemade stock, milk or vegetable water. Do not salt and pepper before cooking, but you may add herbs and spices to the water. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Add the prepared vegetables and return to a rolling boil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until tender. The degree of heat is important because the steam developed by the water should cook the vegetables. If the water boils too fast, it will not cook by steam; also it may boil away. The average time needed to cook the vegetable ranges from five to 25 minutes; make notes of your preferences. Uncover the pan as infrequently as possible. Experience will soon teach you the correct timing.”

Q: For a long time I have been trying to find out the difference between smoked salmon and lox. We fish salmon and have it smoked, but it’s not the same as the lox sold in delicatessens and served with bagels and cream cheese. Can you help?

A: In “The Von Welanetz Guide to Ethnic Ingredients” (Warner Books, 1987: $10.95), authors Diana & Paul Von Welanetz explain: “The very finest smoked salmon comes from Scotland, and is known as Scotch Salmon, with that from Nova Scotia, Denmark and Norway being very close in quality. It is raw, but cured with salt and lightly smoked, which gives it a rosy, translucent appearance and a delicate taste of wood and ocean. These fine varieties are available in gourmet specialty shops, and they are very expensive.

“Lox, a Jewish specialty, is smoked salmon that has been soaked in a brine containing sugar. It is sold in delicatessens and in many supermarkets.”

Q: We have always enjoyed avocados with the thought they were good for us because of the vitamins and minerals. Now we hear they have too much fat. Please, what is the truth about avocados?

A: Most sources we checked consider avocados a fair source of vitamins A, C and E and many minerals. Judge for yourself, however, with this information from “Nutritive Value of American Foods--In Common Units,” U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Handbook 456. One 10 2/3-ounce avocado contains 378 calories, 4.8 grams protein, 37.1 grams fat, 14.3 grams carbohydrate, 23 milligrams calcium, 95 milligrams phosphorus, 1.4 milligrams iron, 9 milligrams sodium, 1,368 milligrams potassium, 660 international units Vitamin A, 0.25 milligrams thiamine, 0.45 milligrams riboflavin, 8.6 milligrams niacin and 82 milligrams ascorbic acid.


Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About . . ., Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.