How to Steam in a Bamboo Steamer
Dreamy Steamed Dumplings and More: How to Steam in a bamboo steamer
Steaming is a classic method of preparing dumplings, and a bamboo steamer is the traditional vessel for doing it. Once you've learned how to steam in a bamboo steamer, though, dumplings aren't the only dish you can prepare: you can also use it to healthfully steam vegetables, meat and seafood.
In this post, we'll talk about the basic method of steaming in a bamboo steamer, including equipment and basic techniques that can be applied to a number of foods, from those delicious homemade dumplings to meat, seafood and vegetables, too.
A NOTE ON THE EQUIPMENT
First, you'll need a bamboo steamer. They're readily available in Asian markets, cooking supply stores, and even many gourmet grocery stores. You can find a good steamer for under $20. Many will have various "tiers," so you can cook different dishes simultaneously.
You will also need a vessel to hold the water with which you will steam. You'll need a pot that will fit the steamer snugly and keep it hovering above the water. A wok is the ideal tool for steaming — its curved shape that narrows toward the bottom can hold water, but can also suspend the steamer above it without touching the water. A pan or skillet can be used too, but basically you don't want a precarious placement where the steamer will top over. Ideally, your steamer hovers above the water. But if there is liquid touching the steamer, make sure that the portion where the food is sits above the liquid line.
HOW TO STEAM IN A BAMBOO STEAMER
Line the bottom of the basket(s). You want to do this to create a divider between food and basket, so it won't stick. Cabbage or lettuce leaves are common liners.
Although cheap and easy to obtain, cabbage and lettuce do not impart much flavor. Consider adding banana leaves, corn husks or grape leaves to impart a flavor to what you're cooking.
Now, lay your food on top of the leaves, in a single layer. Foods like dumplings shouldn't be jammed together. Lightly touching is fine, but make sure they have space so they won't stick together once cooked.
Find a pot that your steamer will fit in snugly, or where it can hover over the pot. A wok is ideal, but you can also use a large pot. Fill the pot with about 2 inches of water, or you can also fill with a broth to scent whatever you're cooking.
Fill the wok or pan with 2 inches of water. On medium heat, without the steamer on top or any sort of cover, bring the water or liquid to a simmer. Do not let it come to a boil.
Once the water has reached the simmering point, place the steamer over or in the pot. Make sure the lid is on. Let the simmering water warm the contents of the basket, checking the progress occasionally.
The leaves of your "liner" will start to wilt — that is just fine.
It will start to get steamy after a few minutes.
Continue cooking until the food has cooked through; this will vary depending on what you are cooking. These pork and vegetable dumplings, for instance, took about 15 minutes on medium simmering heat.
To remove, use tongs or a spoon, as the food in the steamer will be hot, and the steam rising will be, too.
NOW THAT WE'VE DISCUSSED THE BASIC METHOD, HERE IS A RUNDOWN OF SOME OF THE OTHER TYPES OF FOOD THAT CAN BE PREPARED IN YOUR STEAMER.
While this information will offer a broad overview, always refer to specific recipe directions to ensure cooking success.