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How to buy a bamboo steamer
Bamboo steamers are designed to fit snugly into a wok and are generally sold in stacks of two. Make sure when you buy a bamboo steamer you pick a sturdy one that will last. Bamboo steamers range in price from $10 to $50, keep in mind that you'll want to invest in a quality steamer. Lower quality steamers don't last more than a few uses.
Looking for a steamer with a tight-fitting lid is important; you don't want the steam to escape during the cooking process.
Why you should try cooking with a bamboo steamer
When cooking food in a bamboo steamer, you can use less fats like oil and butter. Steaming also helps some foods retain nutrients, which are sometimes lost when you use other cooking methods -- like deep-frying or sauteing. Steam also cooks food evenly.
If you're cooking multiple foods at once, keep in mind that the lowest tier of the steamer cooks food the fastest.
How to use a bamboo steamer
To steam food in a bamboo steamer, simply fill the bottom of the wok with water, adding enough so it’s just below the bottom of the bamboo steamer.
You can lay the food directly of the bamboo slats, but to keep the food from sticking to the bamboo, line the steamer with lettuce, cabbage or banana leaves. If you don't have any of those handy a small shallow plate, pie plate, or parchment will work as well.
Lining the steamer will also prevent the flavour of your food from transferring to the bamboo.
Bamboo steamer recipes you’ll love
Crispy-Skinned Steamed Duck
The common variety of ducks (Peking/Lac Brome) raised in Canada are tasty but quite fatty. So, years ago, I developed this method of cooking it based on Chinese recipes where the whole duck is steamed, then deep-fried. The meat's flavour gets a boost from overnight salting; the steaming rids it of most of its fat and tenderizes the meat; and the final finish in a hot oven makes the necessary crisp skin.
These small sweet steamed buns are popular throughout the Philippines and best served to soak up sauces and broths. Be sure to buy full-fat coconut milk and, before opening it, soak the can in hot water for 5 minutes to melt the solids that congeal on top. Shake before opening.
Steamed Lemon Salmon and Asparagus
Be it a multitiered bamboo, electric or metal basket, a large steamer is invaluable if you're trying to reduce fat content. (Our favourite and least expensive option is the bamboo version.)
A whole fish is a must at a Chinese New Year banquet. It signifies abundance. Instead of rockfish, a West Coast specialty, try any fish small enough to fit into your wok or steamer, such as snapper, trout or whitefish. For less festive occasions, fish fillets or steaks will do, too. The combination of ginger and sherry is a classic Chinese way to get rid of fishy odours and strong flavours.
Serve these morsels drizzled with soy vinegar in Asian soup spoons. No spoons? No worry -- serve the dumplings on a bamboo platter or in the steamer with the sauce alongside for dipping.
There's no shortage of flavour when you steam fish with piles of fresh ginger and green onions.
This entire meal is prepared in one pie plate and then steamed, making it a quick and easy weeknight choice.
Instead of battering and frying halibut, try this light steamed alternative.