Thursday, April 23, 2009

Butter Steamed Anything

When I was a young cook, I thought I had invented butter steaming. I had never read about it in any cookbooks, just thought the idea of adding a minimum amount of water and a nice dollop of butter in which to cook veggies sounded really good.

I like it for 'most any vegetable that cooks fairly quickly. It's a little risky if I get called away and the tablespoon or so of water cooks away; I have burned the heck out of the occasional pan of dinner that way. I'm easily distracted.

Anyway, this week when I found a nice packet of the skinniest little fresh green beans in my market, I knew that butter steaming was in my future. And, this time, I decided to use it with the wild coho salmon I bought, as well.

Butter steaming, as I do it, is simplicity itself. I add the smallest amount of water that I think will cook the food and evaporate away at the end, plus a nice knob of butter, perhaps a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of butter. In a wide pan over medium high heat, once the butter has melted into the water and the water is sizzling, I add the veggies and clap on a well-fitting lid for a few minutes while the beans turn bright green. As soon as that happens (about two minutes for tiny beans like these), I remove the lid and turn the veggies in the pan, over and over to coat them with butter and to finish cooking them without browning. That last minute or two toasts the butter without burning it and gives the veggies a rich gleam and the butter an almost nutty taste.

For the salmon, I used the same treatment, but added a sprinkling of dill weed to the pan and only flipped the fish once.
I added a bit more water to do the salmon, since it would cook for slightly longer. I started the fish skin side down and cooked it for about two minutes, then flipped it while it was still cohesive, removed the skin (it peels off easily after this brief cooking) and the brownish layer that lies just under the skin, which is strong tasting and not as pretty in color. Then, I put the lid on and steamed the salmon a few minutes more, removing the lid for the last few minutes to allow the water to evaporate and the dilly butter to remain to flavor the fish.

Plated on top of my mixture of red and brown rice, it was simply, beautifully delicious. Even though I have since learned that I didn't invent butter steaming, I still think of it as mine, all mine!

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4 Comments:

Blogger Anna Haight said...

Sounds good! And for the salmon, you might try replacing some of the water with white wine for another flavor boost.

Thursday, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Moonbear said...

So its called butter steaming, eh? I have only tried this method with small new potatoes. I learned it from my mom. I watched her shake the pan as the last of the water disappeared, and the potatoes took on the magical carmelizing effects of the butter. I will try this with other things now too, thanks to your blog.

Thursday, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Greg said...

Butter makes it better!

Thursday, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Anna, I have added wine to the poaching water sometimes, but didn't think of adding it when butter steaming - good idea!

Moonbear, see, I didn't invent it - your Mom did! Welcome back, by the way!

Greg, butter, like bacon, makes everything better!

Thursday, April 23, 2009  

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