A Guide to Bamboo Steamers
There are a wide range of unusual of oriental cookware items that can aid you in cooking enjoyable, authentic dishes. One of the most popular is the bamboo steamer; an item that can be used to create a wide array of delicious treats, sweet or savoury. Our guide will give you all you need to know about bamboo steamers to convince you to invest, as well as offering tips, tricks and recipe inspirations!
What is a Bamboo Steamer?
A bamboo steamer is a form of oriental cookware, which is usually made up of several layers. The round-shaped trays are stacked upon one another and are made to fit on top of a pan of boiling water to ‘steam’ the foods placed inside. The base of each layer is made up of strips of bamboo formed into a lattice pattern, with gaps between each strip to ensure that the steam evenly cooks the contents. Unsurprisingly, these are always made from the material of bamboo but, in modern day versions, are often a combination of steel/aluminium and bamboo. Commonly, a steamer will be between 8” and 10” and can have upwards of two layers; however, they are also available in much smaller and much larger sizes.
What Dishes Can I Cook in a Bamboo Steamer?
There is a vast variety of dishes that can be made in a bamboo steamer, including common favourites such as fluffy bao buns, steamed dumplings, beef short ribs, steamed custard buns, steamed chicken, steamed shrimp and many others. This method of cooking has a great versatility and keeps meals on the healthier side as there is no fat needed during the cooking process. In addition to this, it also helps to retain the goodness such as vitamins in certain ingredients.
Which Vegetables Can I Cook in a Bamboo Steamer?
Aside from the main dishes listed above which can be cooked in a bamboo steamer, it is also the perfect way to cook a range of vegetables including broccoli, green beans, cabbage, carrots, asparagus, pak choy, snap peas and cauliflower.
How to Use a Bamboo Steamer
To begin, find a saucepan that is slightly smaller than the circumference of your bamboo steamer and fill it around ¾ of the way with water, then bring the water to the boil. Fill each layer of the steamer with the food you wish to cook. You can then place the lid on your steamer and cook your dish to the required time. Once you’ve removed the steamer from the pan, you can then take out your delicious treats and enjoy!
Tips for Using a Bamboo Steamer:
- Ensure that the base of the bamboo steamer does not come in contact with the water at any point. This means you may need to add less water to your pot, as when the water boils it is likely to rise.
- Also, ensure that the pan doesn’t run dry, so top up the pan if necessary. This shouldn’t be a problem for short cooks, but will need to be monitored for the dishes that take a longer time.
- Arrange the items you wish to cook in the basket before placing it on the pan; this is much safer and easier than doing so once on top of the pan.
- Do not place the steamer onto the pan until the water has reached boiling point.
- Use liners to stop foods from sticking to the base of the steamer, you can opt for greaseproof paper or natural alternatives such as cabbage or lettuce leaves.
- If you’re stacking several items together, ensure that the dish that takes the longest is at the bottom of the stack.
- To add extra flavour, try adding herbs, garlic, spices and seasoning into the boiling water that will infuse during the cooking process.
- Do not put your bamboo steamer in the dishwasher; they should only be washed by hand and left to air dry.