Tried to put 5 smashed garlic cloves in boiling water in a hope to get the spanich flavoured but failed. Spanich was being steamed in that vessel.

I intend to steam cook mushrooms, spanich, green onions, and cauliflower.

What is the way to infuse strong garlic, ginger, and black pepper flavours in them?


2 Answers 2


To set expectations here, you aren't going to infuse flavors into the middle of steamed vegetables and fungi, you may get some flavor penetration on the outside, but the best bet for flavored vegetables is to coat the outside with the flavor.

When you put flavorings into water for steaming food most of the flavor stays in the water rather than getting onto the food, it's a waste of good ingredients to be honest.

Many of the flavors you are working with are oil soluble, so your best bet would be to infuse the flavors in oil then mix with the food after steaming. A tablespoon or two of vegetable oil on low heat would be enough, you could add the garlic, pepper and ginger to the oil and cook it slowly to extract the flavors, then discard the solids. The oil could be drizzled on the vegetables. You could also go for a higher temperature method, sauteing the garlic, pepper and ginger for a short time in oil before adding your steamed vegetables to the pan and sauteing them with the flavored oil. I've used both methods, slightly preferring the second one because I like the extra flavors you get from the maillard reactions.


My guess is that the physics simply don't work out for this application.

The first step of your desired process is to extract the flavours from the herb, spice, etc into the surrounding water. This process will take time, even when you finely chop them. It's possible that the steaming is complete before this process has sufficiently progressed.

The next step is vaporizing the dissolved flavours into steam. Again, in the beginning you will produce pure water vapor and only over time as step 1 is taking place will you slowly get some flavors into the steam. It's possible that your flavors will be too heavily dilluted even at their peak.

Step three would be to attach those flavours to the target vegetable. Here I must point out that you're never going to get all the flavor to stick to the veggies and the water vapour to pass on. They will, if anything, stick to the vegetables in the same proportions as they exist in the steam.

You could try to steam them over a strong broth instead of water and see how well it takes on the broth taste. If it doesn't then step 3 doesn't work and you can forget about it. If it does then your problem lies in steps one or two. In that case I'd suggest that you first dissolve the desired flavor into water in a strong enough concentration and then use that water to steam the veggies.

Alternatively you could try and place the flavor source with the vegetables to see if the impart more taste through direct contact.

Finally you could try to produce an essence/reduction/sauce of the desired flavor and apply it to normally steamed vegetables.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.