Lean, Mean, Steam Ma­chine

A healthy meal of fish, meat and veg­gies ready in 10 min­utes? Yes, please! cooked pom­fret, RACHEL XIE chicken and broc­coli in th­ese elec­tric food steam­ers.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Smartshopper Road Test -

1 NATURAI UL­TRA HIGH SPEED FOOD STEAMER MFS223 $159, from Mayer Size of each tier: 26 x 31 x 12cm. Wa­ter tank ca­pac­ity: 2 litres

DE­SIGN The three-lay­ered steamer has de­tach­able bases to al­low more ver­ti­cal space, but I found the heartshaped bas­kets awk­ward for fit­ting long fish and whole poul­try in.

EASE OF USE The wa­ter tank is be­side the steamer bas­kets in­stead of be­neath and is the eas­i­est to re­fill. The tank is also the largest and has a clear panel with mark­ings so I can tell if I need to top it up.

THE 10MIN TEST It took less than 1min for steam to per­me­ate all three tiers – the fastest of the steam­ers tested. The broc­coli and fish turned out soft and moist, while the chicken was juicy and ten­der.

AC­CES­SORIES A con­tainer for steam­ing rice or soup in.

VERDICT The shape is lim­it­ing, but this steamer is the most user­friendly and cooks the fastest.

3 BRAUN MULTIGOURMET FOOD STEAMER FS20 $99, from ma­jor elec­tri­cal stores Size of each tier: 37 x 24 x 12cm. Wa­ter tank ca­pac­ity: 1 litre

DE­SIGN The small­est of the lot – it has only two lay­ers while the rest have three. Long in­gre­di­ents fit into its oval shape, but the tiers’ bases are non-de­tach­able, so it doesn’t lend it­self well to steam­ing larger items.

EASE OF USE There’s no wa­ter level in­di­ca­tor for the reser­voir at the steamer’s base so I can’t tell when a re­fill is needed. There’s no in­let ei­ther – I had to re­move the steamer bas­kets to top up the reser­voir.

THE 10MIN TEST It took just 90sec for both tiers to steam up. All in­gre­di­ents were cooked through, but the fish and chicken turned out drier than in the other steam­ers.

AC­CES­SORIES While the other steam­ers have only one drip tray be­low the low­est tier, this has an ex­tra tray un­der the up­per steamer com­part­ment. It also has two black con­tain­ers, for use with rice and foods like car­rots that may stain the white bas­kets.

VERDICT It’s the most af­ford­able and cooks quickly, but I wish it were more user-friendly and ver­sa­tile.

2 PHILIPS AVANCE COL­LEC­TION STEAMER HD9150 $169, from ma­jor elec­tri­cal stores Size of tiers: 23, 24, 25cm (di­am­e­ter) x 6.5cm (height). Wa­ter tank ca­pac­ity: 1.1 litres

DE­SIGN This cir­cu­lar, three-tiered steamer with de­tach­able bases is the most handy for steam­ing – it’s the only one where a round din­ner plate can fit into each food­hold­ing com­part­ment. But I had to cut off the pom­fret’s tail as the round bas­kets couldn’t ac­com­mo­date long in­gre­di­ents.

EASE OF USE The wa­ter tank is at the steamer’s base, but an up­ward-fac­ing spout at the side makes re­fill­ing easy; a re­fill in­di­ca­tor lights up when it needs top­ping up.

THE 10MIN TEST It took 3min for all the tiers to steam up. The fish and chicken were cooked through and re­mained juicy; the broc­coli had the most crunch.

AC­CES­SORIES A unique aroma in­fuser dish for herbs and spices fits be­low the bot­tom tier; us­ing it can en­rich the flavour of the food.

VERDICT It steams slightly more slowly but is the most spa­cious.

4 TEFAL STEAM N’ LIGHT VC3008 $139, from ma­jor elec­tri­cal stores Size of each tier: 35 x 23 x 14cm. Wa­ter tank ca­pac­ity: 1.2 litres

DE­SIGN The three tiers come with de­tach­able bases, al­low­ing you to cook in­gre­di­ents that need more ver­ti­cal space, like a whole spring chicken. The oval shape takes longish items like fish, but may not ac­com­mo­date a large chicken.

EASE OF USE This has a slider knob with six set­tings for fish, hard veg­eta­bles, soft veg­eta­bles, meat, rice and cake. Each set­ting has a rec­om­mended steam­ing time that can be ad­justed with up and down but­tons – a bit fussy, but as easy to use as the timer di­als on other ma­chines. The wa­ter tank at the bot­tom has an in­let at the side, but it’s hard to pour wa­ter through the flap; a light in­di­ca­tor sig­nals when a re­fill is needed.

THE 10MIN TEST It took 3min for all three lay­ers to steam up. No com­plaints about the food, which all turned out ten­der and juicy.

AC­CES­SORIES A muf­fin pan for mak­ing steamed cakes and a con­tainer for cook­ing rice and eggs in.

VERDICT It’s not the fastest steamer, but it cooks well and the ac­ces­sories make it ver­sa­tile.

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