Making the most of your Varoma
I don’t think it will come at any surprise to you when I say that I absolutely cannot get enough of my Varoma! I use it to steam a large array of different foods, some of which may come as a bit of a surprise to you - have you ever thought of cooking a cake in your Varoma? Well, you can!
There’s just a few tips and tricks you’ll need to learn to create the most amazing steamed dishes, and I’m bringing them to you! They’re really quite simple, but will absolutely change the way you look at and use your Varoma. I’ve documented my favourites below, so let’s get steaming!
Plan your cooking times
I really can’t stress this enough: figuring out and planning around your cooking times makes the world of difference. It is one of my biggest priorities when it comes to preparing dinner. Always make sure your meat or fish is cooked with vegetables that take a similar time to cook, to avoid over- or under-cooked meat. For example, white fish cooks quicker than red fish, so it’s best to cook that alongside your beans and leafy greens. Varoma cookbooks will help you work out the cooking times for a lot of food, so be on the lookout.
This applies to the cooking order of vegetables, too! There’s nothing nice about over-cooked, mushy vegetables, so if you can plan out your cooking order then you can use the different parts of your Varoma to your advantage. Large chunks of vegetables, or harder veggies, are best placed in your Varoma dish. Softer, smaller vegetables benefit from being placed in the Varoma tray - that way, you can insert and remove the tray as necessary during the cooking process to ensure your food doesn’t over-cook.
It’s all about the flavours
There are so many ways to add amazing flavours to your food while you steam! The most obvious way is with the herbs and spices you place onto the food - dry rubs work amazingly to add the most incredible flavours to your dish. One of my favourite flavour tricks is to mix miso paste with a water to create a smooth paste, then brushing that over my vegetables. Pop them in the Varoma and voilá!
Another way to spice up your dishes is by creating a ‘bed’ for your food. Lay your fish or chicken on top of lemon slices and fresh cut herbs while you steam for a really incredible flavour. Steaming trays and trivets can help make it easier to layer your food within your Varoma. I use my steaming tray all the time to make incredible curries and steam omelettes, fish or chicken breast. The best thing is that it fits in the dishwasher and you can use it to serve food directly onto the dinner table. Use the trivet as a heat mat.
Finally, don’t underestimate the ingredients you place in the bowl while you’re steaming in your Varoma. For example, adding a little white wine to the water in the bowl will dramatically improve the flavour of fish and seafood, while vegetable stock will create the most delicious steamed vegetables. Think outside the… bowl!
Learn about your cuts of meat
It might sound obvious, but cooking times can vary dramatically between different cuts of meat. But did you know the fat content plays a very important role? Leaner cuts of meat don’t require as long for the fat to render, and therefore take much less time to cook. Fattier cuts will take a lot more time, but will also create amazing juices (which you can catch with my stainless steel steaming trays to create sauce or broth!)
Because of this, I would suggest investing in a meat thermometer so that you can make sure your meat is cooked to perfection every time! Eventually, you’ll become more in-tune with your cooking times, and be able to plan accordingly.
Know when to cover your cakes and puddings
Cooking times play a huge role in determining whether you should cover your cakes and puddings or not. For short steaming times, like with smaller bakes cooked in dariole moulds or silicone muffin moulds, it’s really not necessary to cover your food with Varoma papers or baking paper or cling wrap - it’s just extra work for you. The only time you need to worry about covering your cakes and puddings is if the cooking time is longer than half an hour, at which point the condensation on the lid of your Varoma can drip into your food so much that it becomes soggy, which isn’t the nicest.
Your Varoma isn’t just for cooking
All I’ve talked about so far is tips and tricks when it comes to cooking food, but how about the other ways you can use steaming to your advantage? Online courses are a great way to learn about the hidden features of your Varoma, and I thought I’d bring you a couple of my favourites: for example, did you know the Varoma is an amazing way to reheat your food? Microwaves can heat your food unevenly, ovens can dry out your food, and pre-heating is often not an option. So instead, a very gentle way to reheat food is to pop at least 500g of water in your bowl, and heat 7-10 min./Varoma/Speed 2. You can cut down on time even more by using water pre-boiled in your kettle, or by using the ‘kettle’ function on your TM6.
I’m also more than a little obsessed with using my Varoma to sterilise my equipment, jars, and baby bottles. It’s a totally reliable, safe way of ensuring your equipment is perfectly sterilised, every time. Simply pop your jars, bottles, or anything else you’d like to use in your Varoma and heat 20 min./Varoma/Speed 1. They’re then immediately ready for use!
To learn more about using your Varoma to its fullest potential, check out my online Varoma video course which is dedicated to teaching you all the tricks of the trade. Enjoy steaming!