I can doubtlessly say steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook food. It has been used in Asian countries for centuries to cook a variety of delicious meals. And as we all know, they look great and do not seem to know what aging is! We can trust their cooking methods, can’t we?
With this cooking method, the food retains its nutrients, flavor, color, shape, and texture because it does not touch the liquid. Using a bamboo food steamer might be the best way for you if you want to steam your food in a gentle, elegant, and simple way. You can use it to cook seafood, dumplings, rice, vegetables, and even marinated vegetables and\or proteins like meat or fish.
What is a bamboo steamer? A bamboo steamer is a round multi-layered cooking tool with a perforated woven bottom to allow steam to rise through the layers. The layers sit above a pot or a wok that has boiling water inside. Do you want a clean, simple, and healthy meal in one pot?
You got it! With these layers, you can cook different foods at the same time and create a perfect meal. Cooking is like an endless adventure with countless ways to explore. Steaming is an exciting path to take in this adventure. While exploring this path, we highly recommend you use this tool as your vehicle. If you are looking to learn how to use a bamboo steamer for the first time, this article will help you!
How to Use a Bamboo Steamer
If you never used a bamboo steamer, which we think is the case since you are reading this, let’s learn how to use one! We will provide you with simple instructions, recipes, and caring tips after usage. Take a look!
Step 1: Prepare the Water
Fill a pot with water. You can use bamboo steamer pans, woks, or regular stock pots. If you are using regular pots, make sure to choose a pot big enough for your steamer. Once you fill the pot with water, bring it to simmer.
Step 2: Filling the Baskets
If you are using your steamer for the first time, leave it in cool water for 5 minutes and rinse it before using it. If you are cooking something that may stick to the basket, we suggest you use something for the bottoms. A steamer can have many levels. Decide how many levels you need for the food you want to steam.
A common problem you might face is food sticking to the bottom. There are a few things you can do to prevent this. You can use paper liners, silicone mats, parchment paper, reusable cloth or leaves of lotus, lettuce, cabbage etc. Make sure what you use is porous or leaves some space so the steam can rise from the bottom to the top.
After you are done with lining the bottoms, add the food into the basket and close the top layer with a lid. If you are steaming a juicy food like marinated meat, you should place it on a heat-proof plate. You can use a plate that has a raised rim so you can collect the accumulated sauce within the basket from steaming.
Step 3: Place the Steamer
When the water is simmering, place the bamboo basket steamer over the pot. As we said, the steamer should fit right in the pot. Make sure the food within the steamer does not touch the water. Keep careful watch on the pot and add boiling water when you notice the pot is starting to go dry. Finally, steam your food until it is done to your liking.
Step 4: After Cooking
After you have your beautiful steamed dish, rinse the steamer with hot water. You can use soapy water and a brush or scrubber in case food is stuck to it. Additionally, you could use a lemon to rub it if you used it to cook something smelly.
Let it dry for 2 days. Once it is dry, take a clean cloth and dip it in olive oil to wipe your steamer. This way, you can prevent your steamer from cracking. Do not put your bamboo steamer in the dishwasher. Also do not leave it in water, it might rot.
How to Use a Bamboo Steamer to Cook Rice
There are numerous ways to cook rice. You can use a regular pot, a rice cooker, even a bamboo steamer! If you want to use this method, you need to follow these instructions:
Step 1: Prepare
Prepare your rice by rinsing it under cold water. This process reduces the amount of starch in the rice and would make it much less sticky after cooking. Some may suggest you put the rice in cold water for a few hours to help fasten the cooking time. 2-3 hours is just fine!
Step 2: Place It in the Bamboo Food Steamer
Line your steamer basket with leaves, paper liners, or else. Take the soaked rice and place it on an even layer over this liner. To hold it in its place, add another layer of liner above the rice. You should place them tight.
Step 3: Prepare Your Pot and Cook
Fill the pot with 2 inches of water and let the water boil. Here, I’ll give you a quick tip to give your steamed rice a little something extra! You can use meat or vegetable broth to steam it to give the rice a rich flavor. Place the bamboo steamer in the pot.
As I have stated before, you need to add boiling water as it keeps evaporating. You should steam it for at least 35 minutes. Then, turn the rice over with a wooden spoon, place the steamer back into the pot and let it steam for 15 minutes more. Now, your rice is cooked and ready to serve!
Overcooked vegetables lose their color, their shape, their flavor, and most importantly their nutrients. Sometimes we eat a vegetable and there is no taste or smell. In fact, we can’t even tell which vegetable it is! I hate that feeling, who doesn’t? If you are like me and really want your vegetables to retain their yummy taste, it’s time to try a bamboo vegetable steamer.
This way the vegetables can be cooked and still hold on to all of their characteristics and we can enjoy a delicious meal. Vegetable recipes are one of my favorites when it comes to bamboo steamer recipes. But how can we use a steamer to cook vegetables? Let’s find out!
Step 1: Prepare Your Pot
Just like any other recipe, fill your pot with 2-3 inches of water, and let it boil.
Step 2: Prepare Your Steamer
You can line the bottoms with leaves or any other thing that will do the job if you are worried about getting the veg stick to the bottoms. Place your vegetables in the baskets. You can put different vegetables on different layers.
Make sure you put the hard ones at the bottom. If your veggies have different cooking time, add the slower-cooking veggies first and let them steam a little before adding other ones.
Step 3: Steam
Place the basket in your pot and start to steam. Every time the water evaporates, add more boiling water. Check the vegetables regularly to see if they are done your liking.
When they’re appropriately cooked, that’s when you take the steamer out and serve with or some other main dish. You will realize that this is the best way to eat vegetables since they remain tasty, colorful and healthy with steam-cooking. Enjoy!.
While there are many uses of a bamboo steamer, using it to steam dumplings is our favorite. We know nothing beats this heavenly steamed dish! You can try making it from scratch or you can steam frozen dumplings you bought from the store. Both are good!
Since you already know how to steam a variety of foods already, use that knowledge to steam dumplings. You can use grape or Napa leaves to line the basket if you want to give them a richer flavor. Keep in mind that dumplings are like cookies and will expand from their original size while in the process of cooking.
You should always space dumplings apart from each other and only place one layer in the steamer basket to make sure they don’t stick together in a mushy mess. If you are steaming frozen dumplings, just put them in the basket right away and start to steam. The cooking time is up to you. Check the basket regularly and remove it when you think dumplings are ready.
Steaming Meat and Fish
When we’re baking or frying meat and fish, often they turn out to be very dry on the inside and it ruins the whole meal. Steaming is an awesome way to cook meat and fish because you can maintain the moisture within them with this method. Follow the same instructors as the other recipes at the beginning.
You should place the food at the bottom of the steaming basket and on top of liners if you’re afraid of it sticking to the bottom. If you are steaming it with vegetables, place the vegetables on a layer above them. Steam them until they are tender enough for you. It takes around 20-30 minutes to steam meat and 10-15 minutes to steam fish.
Be careful when you are opening the lid of the steamer after cooking. Because, steam can cause serious burns. Use mittens or potholders to remove the lid. Keep your face away from the basket.
As we said in the beginning, cooking is an endless adventure. Steaming with a bamboo steamer is just one of them! This cooking tool that has been in use for thousands of years will help you prepare delicious meals for you and your loved ones. After you get used to it, you will hardly use any other cooking method.
Did you try your bamboo steamer? Make sure you follow the instructions and take good care of your steamer. Come say hi in the comments and let me know how your journey with the steamer goes!