Bamboo steamers are all the rage for a reason. It turns out that the ancient Chinese knew a thing or two about keeping nutrients and flavor in their ingredients. The double-tier bamboo basket provides the additional benefit of allowing flavors to inter-mingle. But you can amp up your flavor by boiling broth in the bottom water!
Once you have your bamboo steamer from China, here’s the simple steps that are absolutely necessary for best results:
- Line the bottom with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Alternatively, you can buy special wax paper liners that are easy to use. This step is important because the cooking food will otherwise stick to the bamboo slats that comprise the steamer and make a sticky mess. You can put your fish on the bottom tier and vegetables on the top one.
- Place the interlocking tiers into a wok or other pot with approximately two inches of water. Make sure the level of the food doesn’t submerge in the water or you will have boiled food! Simmer on low heat for the allotted time. Make sure the water doesn’t boil off.
- Serve and enjoy piping hot over rice!
- Clean the bamboo steamer with a soft dish soap, never in the dishwasher. Make sure it is thoroughly dry before storing in the cupboard. The same bamboo that makes for healthy and natural food is also delicate and susceptible to mold!
- The wok works best for the bamboo steamers, but an open skillet will work. Make sure the bamboo ring on the bottom is slightly submerged in the water to avoid burning (including slow burn).
These bamboo cooking baskets require a bit of learning curve, but once you get used to them, it’s easy to get addicted. The flavor and texture is superior to boiled vegetables! The fish comes out tender with no blackened burn marks or greasy oil!
It’s easy to want to eat more broccoli because it’s a superfood packed with nutrients and fiber for digestion. But broccoli is either too tough raw or wilted if boiled. This is where a bamboo steamer comes to the rescue! The steaming takes off the tough edge of the broccoli and keeps in the nutrients you crave. The bamboo basket brings a subtle authentic touch from China and keeps molecules from the metal steamer baskets from contaminating your food.
Here the steps to perfect steamed broccoli:
- Cut into bite-size florets. I like to use pre-cut florets from Costco because they save me this time-consuming step. Most people prefer not to eat the stems anyway, but if you do eat the stems, that extra roughage is a windfall for your digestion.
You can use wax paper liners or parchment sheets, which you can use by loosely wrapping around the vegetables.
- Bring water in wok to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let the steam filter through the cracks between the bamboo slats for 3 to 4 minutes. If you like the broccoli crisper, steam for less time. If you prefer tender florets, then steam for a bit longer.
Add some pizzazz by adding bullion into your boiling water. Alternatively, cook the broccoli on the top basket with fish or chicken on the bottom. NOTE: If you cook a protein on the bottom, it will take longer, so you may want to remove the broccoli sooner and place the bamboo lid on the bottom basket.
- A lot of people put butter or olive oil with herbs on their steamed broccoli. But I like the Chinese oyster sauce for a rich, appetizing flavor that will make you want more of this most healthy of vegetables.
Filling for pork dumplings (shiu mai or siu mai):
1 lb ground pork
1 cup Napa cabbage
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
⅛ tsp pepper
1 stalk green onion
2 black (presoaked for 30 min) mushrooms
1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp of chopped ginger
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 package round wonton skins
Chop vegetables to fine pieces. Mix pork, water chestnuts, broth, mushrooms, egg and seasonings. Fill each wanton skin with a spoonful and wrap, leaving the top open. Place on lined bamboo steamer in 2” of simmering water and steam for 20 minutes, making sure water does not boil off (you can use wax liners or cabbage leaves to line steamer). Serve with soy sauce and Chinese mustard.
Steamed fish recipe
For piping hot yet tender delicious filets, a bamboo steamer is ideal! The trick is to line the basket trays with lettuce leaves (Romaine works well). I put lemon slices in with the lettuce so that the juices can saturate the fillet. Try 1 ½ lb of cod, halibut or salmon. Depending on the thickness of the filet, it will take 4 to 12 minutes; the flesh should whiten and lose its translucent appearance.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs. Or try the Chinese way with sprinkled fresh ginger and scallions on top.
If you are interested in buying a Cuisine Natural which sells bamboo steamers on Amazon, click on the link or the image.