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How to use a bamboo steamer basket?

    The bamboo steamer basket is an ideal cookware for making fat-free food like dumplings and bao buns among many others. This method of cooking uses the heat from the steam to cook food, but what do you need and how can you use a bamboo steamer basket?

    The steamer is traditional Chinese cookware that is becoming popular as many people appreciate the freshness of steamed foods.

    Things you need:

    • Wok
    • Bamboo steamer basket.
    • Water.
    • Heat.

    - Reishunger Bamboo Food Steamer 25cm

    (20 cm Available) & 2 Levels including 2 Cotton Cloths

    Uses: Traditional Cooking for Rice, Dim Sum, Vegetables, Meat and Fish, for 4 People

    How to use a bamboo steamer in 5 simplified steps

    1. Line the trays

    A bamboo steamer basket can have several layers depending on the types of food you want to cook. Use liners that allow steam to sieve through the bamboo trays. The ideal vegetable liners are cabbage and lattice leaves. You can also use porous cheesecloth or parchment paper.

    There is no need to use a liner if you place food on a plate. However, make sure there is sufficient free space, and the steamer’s lid is firmly shut, for the steam to permeate through the tray to cook the food.

    2. Place food in the steamer

    Most foods will expand while cooking in the steamer. Place them apart so that there are spaces in between them– do not pack them close together.

    3. Add water into the wok

    Add the right amount of water so that it does not reach the food when boiling, and it is not too low that the rim of the steamer gets burnt.

    The best way to get this balance right is to pre-heat water in the wok. As the water simmers, estimate the water level and how far it’s likely to reach up the steamer and around its lower rim.

    A wok with a wide rim is best because it gives you good visibility of the water level when food is cooking in the steamer.

    4. Place the bamboo steamer in the wok

    Depending on how many bamboo trays you are using, place quick-cooking foods at the top, slow-cooking foods at the bottom, and others in between. For instance, some vegetables cook quicker than dumplings and buns. So, place the vegetables at the top and dumplings at the bottom.

    If you are using only one bamboo tray, there is no need to worry about layering. You can place the bamboo steamer straight on the simmering water.

    5. Steam the food and monitor the water level

    So, how long should you leave food steaming in your bamboo steamer? It depends on what you are cooking and how many bamboo steaming trays you are using. Follow the tip in step 4, remove the food in the top tray when it’s cooked until all the others are also cooked.

    Check the water at intervals. You may have to add more water to the wok. One top tip is NOT to add cold water as this disturbs the consistency at which food is cooking.

    Ideally, you want to ensure that the water is simmering all the time so that food is cooked consistently. Only add boiling water if (or when) the water gets too low on the wok.

    To remove food from the bamboo steamer tray, use a pair of tongs, scoops, or spoons. Be careful because the food will be steaming hot!

    Check out Amazon for bamboo steamer baskets sets.

    Why water level is important?

    As mentioned in steps 3 and 5, monitor the water level from time to time, and ensure that the water reaches the lower rim of the bamboo steamer basket to prevent it from burning.

    The water level must be just right so that the rising boiling water does not reach the food.

    A wok is the best utensil to use with a bamboo steamer. It is thin and wide because water simmers and boils fast in a thin wok, and its wide rim can hold bamboo trays of different sizes.

    In addition, the wide base provides good visibility for monitoring the amount of water. The best alternatives for a wok are thin pans and pots with wide bases.

    Buying a bamboo steamer basket

    When shopping for a bamboo steamer, the two main things to look for are the sizes of the wok and the raw materials used. A wider steamer will cook a lot of food, alternatively, you can buy several small steamers to cook the same amount of food, either way, steamer sizes do not really matter.

    What matters the most is the size of the wok because it will determine the size of the baskets to use. So, choose the wok carefully.

    Tradition demands that for food to taste great, the steamer has to be predominantly made of bamboo.
    However, some modern steamers have stainless steel added to them. In this case, it depends on your preference and how you are going to use, wash and clean, and store the cookware.

    Here are some places where you can get steamers made of bamboo. (LINKS)

    Pros and cons of Bamboo Steamer baskets

    how to use a bamboo steamer basket

    We’ve identified 5-star collections of bamboo steamer baskets sets on Amazon.

    Food tastes fresh when cooked in bamboo steamer baskets. In fact, there are some unique features of Chinese cookware that set it apart. The 5 main advantages are given below.

    Bamboo steamer baskets are/have:

    • stackable.
    • lightweight.
    • sustainable.
    • visually appealing.
    • different cooking times.

    There are two main disadvantages of bamboo steamer baskets. They absorb food odours and are often hard to clean after use. The former happens especially after steaming seafood or vegetables like broccoli or brussels sprouts. It can also be a concern if you are using flavoured stocks to steam foods.

    Also, the bamboo steamer baskets are often hard to clean. As you can imagine, the woven strips and sides can be difficult to get to and give it a really good clean.

    There are several suggestions about using lemon juice, vinegar and or warm soapy water to wash the smell off. But food odour is not an issue if you are selective about what food to cook in the steamer. If you want to avoid it, steam the food that is less likely to leave an odour behind.

    How to clean a bamboo steamer basket


    • Wash with a sponge and dishwashing soap.
    • Immediately rinse.
    • Dry thoroughly.
    • Air dry before storing.


    • Soak it in water.
    • Store when wet.
    • Wash in the dishwasher.

    Cleaning bamboo baskets is a delicate task, time is of the essence. Let the steamer cool down but do not leave it to dry out. While the steamer is still moist, give it a good rinse and dry it immediately.

    Warm soapy water is best for washing the baskets. You can also use lemon juice, vinegar or a combination of vinegar and soda.

    Make sure the steamer is completely dry before storing it in the cupboard to prevent mould from growing on the bamboo.

    Check out our wide collection of bamboo products on GBP.

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