Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Boiling vegetables ... hot water? cold water?

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming after the trip ... (there will be more US eating experience posts coming, I promise!)

For a cooking neophyte like me it is always exciting and amazing the things that I used to do, take for granted and now learn.

Take boiling vegetables, for example. I have always been of the mind that vegetables need to be plonked into hot boiling water and then boiled a certain period of time, and removed from the boiling water. The amount of time it spends in the hot water determines if it's cooked, crisp or mushy.

What I have recently learned was how WRONG I was. I mean - seriously! I was wrong. And I'm big enough a person (okay so I'm tiny, coming in at 5'2" but anyway ....) to admit that I was previously incorrect in my knowledge.

Depending on the vegetable, you either boil in hot or cold water. Huh? Say what?

Here's what I learned:

If it grows above the ground, you heat the water until it's boiling and then plonk the vegetables in and boil away - timing depends on the vegetable and the quantity. Examples include broccoli, beans, asparagus and other vegetables that grow above ground.

If it grows below the ground, you fill a pot with cold water, plonk the vegetables into the pot of water and then bring the water to a boil while the vegetables are in the water. Then boil for however long till the vegetable is cooked. Examples include potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and anything else that grows below ground.

Interesting, eh? Well, I certainly thought so.

Why, you ask? I do not know. Not because I was not told, but because I forget the reason. If you really want to know, ask me and I'll find out for you. If not, just take it from me - above ground = hot, below ground = cold.

Now, being the contrary person that I am, I don't like boiling my vegetables. I prefer to steam them. Does not make a lick of difference whether you boil or steam them, so long as you don't over do them. My usual mix for dinner is carrots, broccoli and if in season, snow peas and asparagus. Since the carrots are below ground veggies and the other stuff are above ground veggies, what I do it this:
  • I assemble my steamer and put the pot with cold water in it on the stove.
  • Then I put the carrots into the steamer section, while the water is still cold.
  • I put the water to heat and bring it to the boil.
  • Once the water has boiled, I let it steam for about 2 or 3 minutes (since carrots take longer than other veggies anyway).
  • After that, when the steam is nice and hot and going strong, I plonk in all the other veggies and give it another 2 or 3 minutes, maybe 4 if there are a lot of them.
  • At the end of that, all my veggies are ready and cooked the way they were supposed to have been cooked.

My favorite way to serve steamed veggies is with a dash of Chinese sesame oil and soy sauce. Yum!

What's your favorite way of cooking vegetables? Do you prefer them one way over another? 

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  1. Life saver article for a 26 yr old single male living out on his own who needs to start eating WAY more veggies than I should've years past :D

    1. I'm very glad that this has helped you. Hope your veggies turn out fabulous.