How to Use a Bamboo Steamer Basket - a Beginner's Guide

How to Use a Bamboo Steamer Basket

If you choose a bamboo steamer for your kitchen, it already means that you are concerned about a healthy and balanced diet. Besides the advantages of this traditional Chinese steam cooking technology, the way you use this bamboo equipment makes a big difference in the quality of the resulting meal.

Learn how to use it to its utmost potential, and you will be able to play around with all types of food and dishes. Bamboo steamers are these days, considered at an international scale some of the best ways to prepare your savory meal.


How to Use a Bamboo Steamer

Before starting to use the bamboo steamer, it is helpful to understand its structure, so you can better handle it. It is a layered piece of equipment with round-shaped boxes made of a bottom grid and lateral walls, all made of bamboo. The bottom grid is made of interlaced bamboo strips. They are not very tightly put together so that the steam can travel freely up and down the overlapped boxes.

Then there is a final lid, also made of bamboo, that covers the upper box, and helps to keep the heat inside and circulating all around.

The bamboo steamer consists only of these recipients. This means that you will need to have an exterior heat source from below the lowest grid. Traditionally, Chinese cooks use the steamer inside a wok. That is because the heat and steam can also come through the box's walls, as the bamboo allows this.

So, the best way to cook with the bamboo steamer is to provide the steam source from all sides. The steamer can get fully immersed inside the wok. This is the most efficient and fast way to prepare your meal.

If you don't have a wok, a frying pan can also work well. It is advisable to use a pan that is wider than the steamer diameter, so you can place it stably. However, you can also put the bamboo steamer carefully over the edges of a saucepot.

Then you need to pour in the wok or pan a bit of water, to boil it and create the steam. However, the water level needs to be a maximum of 1-2 centimeters. Enough to create steam, however, not that much as to immerse in water the first bamboo box. Then you will place them on the stove and let the process last as long as necessary for each food.

If the water evaporates completely, before the meal is fully cooked you can gently pour some more water into the wok, or pan. That's why a smaller size saucepot is not advisable. Because you need to put aside the entire steamer, pour water in the pot, then place the steamer again over the pot's edges, while being hot. Quite complicated if you have to do it often.

How Do You Use A Bamboo Steamer for the First Time Use?

Pretty much, what you've already found out so far about using the bamboo steamer, applies for the first-time use, also. So, we will only add some useful tips to follow right after buying it.

If the steamer is brand new, first thing before using it for the first cooking, wash it inside and outside with warm water. Or, at least wipe it thoroughly with a wet cloth, to clean and relax the bamboo material.

Be careful with the temperature of the steamer. Even if it doesn't get as hot and dangerous as the usual metallic, or plastic steamers, you still must pay attention when you take it out of the stove. Also, take care when you put the lid away, to get to the food. If it's very soon after cooking ends, the hot steam might just get all out in your face.

Don't store your bamboo steamer in a humid place or directly under sunlight, as it will deteriorate the bamboo, sooner than it should.

There are many ways to steam food. One of methods is bamboo steaming.

Some Foods That Can Be Cooked Using a Bamboo Steamer Basket

Apart from the traditional Chinese dishes, that consecrated this equipment at an international level, you can use the bamboo steamer for almost any type of food, or food combinations. The principle used by this steamer is the heat-moisture, which softens the structure of any food, at the same time preserving the nutrients as well as the original taste.

So, what can you cook this way?

Of course, there are the traditional Chinese dumplings, but the dish range extends to any type of dough. You can also prepare bread, with no added fats, just the dough made of whatever ingredients you choose.

Then you can prepare all types of meats. From animal, poultry, and fish. There are no restrictions whatsoever. You only need to take into account that the cooking time varies from one type to the other. You can also prepare rice, potatoes, beans.

It's a great way to cook all your vegetables. Mix them if you feel inspired by more complex dishes. However, you need to be careful to put together vegetables or foods that have the same cooking time.

How to Clean a Bamboo Steamer

How to Clean a Bamboo Steamer

Unlike the other types of steamers, you simply cannot put the bamboo boxes under water and wash them with the usual detergent. The bamboo material is more fragile, plus it absorbs all types of food particles and strong odors. This means you need to give your steamer a special treatment, after each use.

There are several steps to take, and they will guarantee that you can provide the same quality of your dishes, each time.

First of all, after taking the food out, you need to remove all the remaining big particles. This is usually a dry clean process.

The next step is putting each box, plus the lid under warm running water. Don't use the water too hot, because in time it will ruin the bamboo material. Leave the steamer under running water, for as long as possible, so it can remove all particles.

If the food entered too strong in the bamboo walls, you can clean it with detergent. But this is not a must. Keeping it underwater for several minutes, is usually enough. Some foods impregnate a very strong smell that might remain even after washing. This is the case with fish, some mushrooms, onion, scallion, etc.

In this case, if you just dry the steamer and then immediately store it in place, the smell will build up and transform into a permanent foul aroma. So, the advice is to let the boxes open for several hours, even a whole day. And, if this is possible, leave the boxes open under a current of fresh air.

Sharing is Caring!
Theresa Lori

Hi, I'm Theresa. My passion for grilling delicacy gradually built during the time I was living with my parents. My family members especially my mother was a great fan of grilled dishes to and from the love of food. I started preparing smoked food with my mom. This bonding helped me to know more and more about to smoke, grill what always I share on So, in two words you can call me a BBQ lover.