As you know, steaming your foods is one of the easiest methods of cooking. And there are many different ways to steam your foods. However my personal favorite is to use a bamboo steamer as it is just so simple and easy to use.
If you never heard of a bamboo steamer, do not worry. In this post, i’ll be teaching you all exactly what it is, what you can use it for, how to use it, as well as how to take proper care of it.
So if you are ready, lets get started!
What Is A Bamboo Steamer?
A bamboo steamer is basically a set of interlocking baskets that are able to be stacked on top of each other. It works by steaming the water underneath and as the steam rises up through the ridges of the basket, it will slowly cook the foods you have inside each basket.
To use it however, you will need a pot or a wok as you will need some source of foundation to hold the water when it is steaming. My personal preference is to use a wok as the shape of the wok is built nicely to hold a bamboo steamer.
Then all you do is place the food you want steamed inside each basket and then cover the lid. It is a pretty simple process to learn and once you have mastered it, it will instantly become your favorite method of steaming foods.
I always try to suggest to others that they should always invest in a bamboo steamer. It is cheap to buy and can be used for a wide range of foods.
Sure it might seem daunting at first when you use it, but once you use it more and more, it will gradually get easier with time.
It is an important tool to use especially when cooking Asian cuisines as there are tons of Asian foods out there which will require you to steam them. So if you are wanting to cook more Asian foods, it will be good to learn how to use a bamboo steamer.
What Foods Can You Use In It?
What foods can you use in a bamboo steamer?
The short answer is literally anything.
Almost anything can be cooked inside a bamboo steamer. From vegetables to fish or even dumplings and meat.
Basically as long as the food is able to be cooked by steaming, then using a bamboo steamer will be perfect for it.
Just know that different foods steam at different times. So you may have to play around with it to know when something is fully cooked or not.
How To Use A Bamboo Steamer?
Step 1: Filling Your Pot/Wok With Water
Before you can use your bamboo steamer, you’ll have to add water to your pot/wok. This will allow it to create the steaming process you are looking for.
If possible, try to use a wok for steaming with a bamboo steamer as the shape of the wok makes things so much easier.
Now this might be a little tricky at first, but it is easy to learn. When you are adding water to the wok/pot, you want the water to come high enough where the bottom rim of the bamboo steamer can be somewhat submerged. This will prevent it from scorching.
But the water must also be low enough so that when the water bubbles, it will not reach the bottom of the inside layer of the steamer. This is because sometimes we’ll have food sitting on that layer, and if water touches it then it’ll mess up the steaming process.
So you’ll have to try it a few times to get the hang of things.
Step 2: Line The Bamboo Steamer
After you have figured out where the water level should be, you’ll want to line your bamboo steamer.
The reason for this is because sometimes the food you are cooking will start sticking to the bamboo steamer during the steaming process. To prevent the food from sticking to the bamboo steamer, you’ll want to line the baskets with certain materials so that it won’t stick to it.
Now there are plenty of things you can use to help line the bamboo steamer. Some of the things you can use for instance are a layer of cheesecloth, parchment paper, lettuce or cabbage leaves, and more. However my personal favorite is to just use a cheesecloth as it is cheap.
Just make sure that whatever you are using to line the bamboo steamers with is porous as you’ll want the steam to still come up from the bottom of the steamer and flow around the food.
Note: The only time you won’t need to line the baskets is if you are steaming with a bowl or a plate inside.
Step 3: Place Food Inside The Bamboo Steamer
Now you can place your food inside the bamboo steamers.
If you are using something to line the bamboo baskets as said in Step 2 then just simply place the food on top of the lined material.
Do know that if you are steaming anything that expands (dumplings, buns, shumai etc) that you do not overcrowd the baskets. If you place too much in a basket then they won’t have room to properly expand which can ruin the cooking process. So try to leave some room in between the foods you want to cook.
Also if you are going to be using a bowl or a plate, just place them directly into the basket. You do not need to line the steamer if you are using a bowl or a plate. Just make sure the bowl or plate you are using fits inside the basket when closed.
Step 4: Place Your Bamboo Steamer In Your Wok/Pot
After you have done the first 3 steps, it is time to place your bamboo steamer into the wok/pot.
You can do so before you start steaming the water or you can do it after the water is steaming. Either method works.
But if you are worried about burning yourself, then you can simply do the latter. Simply place the bamboo steamers into the cold water before you start steaming.
Step 5: Start Steaming Your Food
This is the fun part.
Once the water in the wok or pan starts simmering/boiling, it still start to evaporate. This evaporation process is what steams your food.
So just follow the recipe you are using and steam for however long is required of it. Just make sure that when you are steaming, to always check on the water level. If your water is running out, add more boiling water to help it continue the steaming process.
Never add cold water when it is steaming as that will stop the process and put a pause to your cooking.
How To Clean Your Bamboo Steamer?
Cleaning and maintaining your bamboo steamer is a relatively simple process.
In order to clean your steamer, simply just wash it with some mild soap and a soft sponge. Then give it a good rinse. After that, let it air dry for a day or so before storing to prevent and mildew from happening.
Never put your bamboo steamer into a dishwasher as that will ruin it completely.
Also note that while some bamboo steamers are able to be soaked for long periods of time, not all of them are the same. So to be extra careful, simply do not let your steamer soak in the sink for more than 15 minutes.