Wondering how to steam asparagus? Good question! Steaming asparagus is very easy and is an excellent way to retain the maximum flavour, colour and nutritional content of your vegetables.
The ideal way to steam asparagus is with an asparagus steamer like the one shown here. The clever tall, narrow design of an asparagus steamer facilitates more even cooking.
The idea is that the tougher stalks stay closest to the boiling water below while the more tender tips remain farthest from the heat. This prevents uneven cooking and the overcooking of the delicious tips. Is it worth buying one? That's up to you! They certainly do the job extremely well and if you do decide to invest, an asparagus steamer will also work very nicely for cooking fresh corn or even for boiling eggs.
However, you can steam asparagus in a more basic steamer with pretty good results. Use a stainless steel or silicone steamer, like the one pictured here.
Personally, I'm a big fan of silicone. With a silicone steamer, you don't need to worry about rusting or marking the pot. And you can throw it in the dishwasher when you are done! Marking or scraping of the pot can be an issue with stainless steel models, especially if you are going to place the steamer in a non stick pot or on enamelled cast iron so beware of this if you are new to steaming.
To steam asparagus with a basic vegetable steamer, arrange the asparagus on the steamer and place it in a pot filled with about 1 inch/2.5cm of boiling water. Don't worry too much if they don't fit in a single layer. Cover and steam for 5-6 minutes until tender. Again, the cooking time may vary slightly, depending on the thickness of the stalks.
An electric vegetable steamer is an excellent option. Here's how to steam asparagus with an electric steamer. First ensure that the steamer is filled with water according to the manufacturer's instructions. Now lay the spears out in the steaming basket and set the timer for 5 minutes. This will give you perfect asparagus - though again remember that asparagus varies a lot in size so increase or decrease the cooking time if yours is particularly thick or thin.
An electric steamer is a smart buy if you don't have one already. They are inexpensive and offer more flexibility than other steamers. And electric steamers are also fantastic for cooking rice, ensuring perfectly cooked fluffy rice with no effort.
Go for a model with two tiers. This allows you to easily cook slower cooking vegetables like potatoes on the bottom tier. When you are almost ready to eat, just pop on the top layer with your asparagus or other quickly cooked vegetables and steam for a few minutes more.
Do remember though, that cooking with tiers means that the vegetables on the top tier will take a little longer to cook than if they were directly over the heat so you will need to adjust cooking times slightly.
I also love the fact that you can walk away without worrying about the steamer running out of water or the food or pot burning. Most electric vegetable steamers turn themselves off when the timer goes off but if you are buying one, make sure you check that the model you choose has this feature. Back when I only had to cook for myself (!) I especially loved this feature. I loved being able to jump in the shower after work or even do some exercise while my dinner cooked itself in the kitchen ;-) Of course these days I can't quite take advantage of that with my two crazy girls running around but some day....! Here's a good value basic steamer from Amazon.