October, 2012 – Megan Miln

Cooking Quinoa in a Steamer

It was a couple of years ago that I first started to hear about quinoa. Almost overnight it seemed to be everywhere; recipes were popping up on the blogs I follow, and my colleagues were talking about what they’d made for dinner with it.

This little grain seems to have a long list of nutritional benefits, and I was curious to try it. However, it was always on the pricey side in Australia, and I didn’t get around to it.

So when I saw quinoa in the health food store recently, next to the brown rice we had gone in to buy, I decided to get some and finally try it out.

Uncooked quinoa grains
Uncooked quinoa grains

I had a few quinoa recipes I’d collected from trusted sources that I was excited to try. But I was disappointed. I was always left with a mushy-crunchy concoction sitting in a puddle of excess water that I needed to drain. The meals weren’t bad, it just felt like a lot of unnecessary hassle when cous cous could produce better results for a fraction of the time and work.

The quinoa went back in the cupboard, where it sat neglected for many weeks. One day, it occurred to me that maybe I should try cooking it in the steamer. We use the steamer to cook rice and cous cous, so why not quinoa as well?

The first attempt produced no better results than the saucepan methods I’d tried. The quinoa was still left sitting in water that I needed to drain at the end of the cooking time.

For the next attempt, I reduced the amount of water I put in with the quinoa. When the timer went off to tell me the cooking time was up, the results didn’t look promising, it still looked like a soggy mess. I was in the middle of something else at that point, and didn’t have time to deal with all those tiny grains and a colander, so I put the lid back on, and left it for a while. When I came back, it had magically transformed itself; it had absorbed all the remaining water, and become light, fluffy little bubbles that almost pop as you eat them.

Quinoa, it seems, cannot be hurried. For quick and easy meals, I still turn to cous cous. But the quinoa is no longer relegated to the back of my cupboard.

Steaming Instructions

  1. Rinse the quinoa well and drain it.
  2. Put the quinoa into the rice bowl of your steamer, and add a little less water than quinoa. I use about 1/2 cup of water for 3/4 cup of quinoa.
  3. Steam for 15 minutes. Turn off the steamer and let it sit for 10 minutes.