For most people, steaming has this terrible reputation of being a flavorless and boring method of preparing food.
Unless someone is a health buff, he or she may not even list steamed food among the options when thinking about what to have for dinner… until they hear of the bamboo steamer, that is. Here are a few reasons why this traditional piece of cookware is crucial to your kitchen.
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Is a Bamboo Steamer Worth It? Why This Should Be the Next Item in Your Kitchen Arsenal
What Is a Bamboo Steamer?
Typically seen in Asian restaurants, the bamboo steamer is a set of often 2 round, stackable containers that have a 10-inch width and a 6-inch height. Bamboo steamers are designed with a domed lid and an open-weave bottom.
The open-weave bottom allows steam to pass through from the bottom layer. In turn, the domed lid functions to trap the steam inside and to keep it circulating. This results in a careful cooking technique that keeps food tender and moist while still locking flavors in.
Bamboo steamers were first used in China thousands of years ago. Because of this, people typically associate them with Chinese cooking.
However, these naturally-sourced steamers are not just for serving dim sum or dumplings. Its design makes it a great instrument for cooking and serving vegetables, fish, meat, and other dishes as well.
Below are more reasons why every home cook should have a bamboo steamer in his or her arsenal.
1. Bamboo Steamers Improve Food Quality
The primary reason for a home cook to use a bamboo steamer when steaming food is that it significantly improves food quality.
Unlike other steamers that leave food soggy, bamboo steamers have a gentle steaming process that helps maintain the food’s fresh look. It also helps that the material this particular kind of steamer is made of absorbs moisture, thus preventing the over-boiling of food and controlling humidity inside the container’s walls.
This is something that metal or plastic steamers are unable to do. These kinds of steamers are not porous, which is why water falls back into the food once condensation starts to occur.
Plus, despite the many layers bamboo steamers are built with, it actually distributes heat evenly throughout the entire container. Because of this characteristic, your food is steamed quickly without any of them being left raw or cold.
Mister Kitchenware’s 10 Inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer is the perfect example of this. It offers one of the best designs on the market, with its evenly fitted bamboo slats that ensure good circulation within. Plus, if you’re not satisfied, they are also promising a 60-day, 100% money-back guarantee!
2. Using a Bamboo Steamer Is the Healthier Choice
Of course, steaming in and of itself is already one of the healthiest ways of preparing food especially when it comes to vegetables.
Boiling is also a popular alternative, but steaming still wins by a few points. This is because it helps the food retain its flavor and nutrients without having to use fat or oil. Plus, this method of cooking melts off fat that is found in certain cuts of fish or meat.
Moreover, bamboo fibers have natural antibacterial properties as they produce a safe and natural substance called “kun.” This substance prevents the buildup of bacteria and mold, making it the hygienic choice. Plus, bamboo doesn’t need any toxic chemical treatments to keep it this way.
3. They Are Efficient
Bamboo steamers are often manufactured with multiple stackable layers that have slatted bottoms. This allows the user to efficiently steam multiple items at the same time.
Most bamboo steamers on the market have either two or three layers. However, there are also those that have as many as five tiers.
If you wanna go somewhere in the middle, the Hcooker 4 Tier Kitchen Bamboo Steamer is perfect for you. It not only comes with 4 tiers but also has 4 available sizes ranging from 7.1 to 10.6 inches in diameter.
4. Bamboo Steamers Are Eco-Friendly
More than being good for your health, bamboo steamers are also good for the environment. This is because bamboo is a natural and renewable material that requires very little attention and care to grow.
Bamboo is actually the world’s fastest-growing plant. It transforms over 30 percent more carbon dioxide into oxygen when compared to most trees, and also grows back after it is cut.
Plus, with modern-day technology, bamboo products are everywhere. Investing in them is one of the simplest ways that you can do to help protect our environment.
Choosing products sourced from bamboo means that you reduce your ecological footprint as you avoid plastic-containing materials that take hundreds of years to decompose. As we all know, these different kinds of plastics are one of the biggest threats to our environment today.
The plastic materials found in bottles, bags, straws, and many more are everywhere. They contribute significantly to the deterioration of the environment as they pollute streams of water and sometimes even end up being ingested by animals.
Bamboo is seen as one of the more eco-friendly alternatives to these plastic products. They are also well-known for their durability. Fortunately, more and more businesses are becoming aware of these issues and are seeing the benefits of using and selling products sourced from this material.
Nowadays, there are bamboo-sourced water containers, bags, and even reusable straws that are being sold for very affordable prices. Buying these kinds of products doesn’t just help the environment, it also promotes businesses that advocate for more eco-friendly and long-term solutions.
Plus, choosing a bamboo steamer means that you do not need to use an electrical one. This also reduces your energy usage significantly, as electrical steamers often require a lot of power to maintain the heat needed to generate steam.
The Premium 10 Inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer is perfect for those who really want to go the eco-friendly way. It is not only handcrafted, but it also contains no plastic materials whatsoever.
5. They Also Look Great
Have we mentioned that bamboo steamers simply look fantastic? Using them as a great way of transforming a simple dinner into one that looks more upscale.
Bamboo steamers are great because they are not exclusively used for cooking. In fact, if you remember the last time you’ve eaten in a Chinese restaurant, you might recall your dim sum served to you on these bamboo steamers.
Do this the next time you steam some dumplings and vegetables and you not only serve healthier and better quality food, but you also bring that authentic experience to your family’s dinner table.
While you’re at it, throw in a pair of chopsticks in there. Fortunately, the MacaRio Bamboo Steamer Basket Set already comes with its own pair of chopsticks. With this set of bamboo steamers, you also get some ceramic sauce dishes and paper liners that really help set the vibe.
Talk about adding that final “wow” factor to your already delicious food!
6. Bamboo Steamers Are Superior to Metal Steamers
In many ways, cooking with bamboo steamers is a lot similar to cooking with other stainless steel cookware like metal steamers. The more eco-friendly option, however, also has a couple of advantages over its cousin.
For one, bamboo steamers, as mentioned earlier, are able to absorb moisture, whereas metal steamers are not. This essentially means that with bamboo steamers, you can say goodbye to those soggy vegetables.
Furthermore, metal containers tend to overcook food, defeating the purpose of preparing food in a healthier way. They also leave an unpleasant aftertaste, unlike bamboo steamers which only enhance the taste of the food cooked with it.
7. They Are Very Easy to Use
Bamboo steamers are also very flexible in that they can be used for preparing a wide variety of dishes not limited to the traditional Asian cuisine they are popularly used for.
From rice to cereals, bamboo steamers like the Trademark Innovations Bamboo Rice Steamer are extremely versatile as they can be used for preparing steamed food for as long as the user knows how to use it properly.
Here are a few tips when using a bamboo steamer:
- Always fill the bottom of each bamboo steamer basket with liners to keep the food from sticking to the basket itself. These liners may either be lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves, or parchment paper.
- Do not use wax paper as a liner. While there are those who suggest that this is a good alternative, wax paper actually tears easily and is not the best option for high temperatures as it can burn.
- Before you boil water, make sure your basket fits tightly over your pot and that the bottom tier sits well above the hot water when poured. You may also use a wok or a shallow pan or skillet as an alternative.
- Once everything is set, fill your pot with a little over an inch of water and bring the water to a simmer.
- When the basket is placed over the pot, constantly monitor the water level and temperature. After a while, you might find warm water at lower than the recommended water level. Add more hot water while monitoring the food as well.
- In place of water, you can also use broth to enhance the flavors of the food. Furthermore, you can add aromatics or fresh herbs in between protein or vegetables to improve the taste without adding salt.
- Never put more than one layer of food on each tier of your bamboo steamer. This should promote good steam circulation within the steamer’s walls, thus ensuring an even cook.
8. Bamboo Steamers Are Easy to Clean
Learning how to use a bamboo steamer is not enough. If you really want to make the most of them, you also have to learn how to maintain them. Here are a couple of tips you can follow to keep your bamboo steamer in the best shape possible.
- When cleaning a bamboo steamer, use only a soft nylon brush and rinse with some warm water to scrub leftover food away. If you added parchment paper or some other form of lining, removing these leftovers should not take too much effort.
- Do not scrub too hard as this may damage the uniformly fitted bamboo slats of your steamer.
- Bamboo steamers tend to have strong odor absorption properties. To get rid of any foul odors that may interfere with the aroma of the next food you prepare, you can also add soap or a few drops of mild dishwasher to water to create a soapy water mixture. Use this instead of plain warm water.
- When it comes to bamboo steamers, air drying is the way to go. After washing, leave your bamboo steamers out to dry before storing them again.
9. They Are Also Affordable
Fortunately, it does not cost a fortune for you to be able to get your hands on a set of high-quality bamboo steamers. Before making a purchase, however, make sure you know what properties to look for.
- The best bamboo steamers are made of premium, high-quality, natural bamboo. Make sure to look for these for you to be able to really savor the flavors of your food.
- Check the label and make sure that the bamboo steamer you’re getting is BPA-free so you can avoid having those nasty materials in there with your food.
- The lid should fight tightly when put on so no steam escapes.
- If you’ll be cooking for a large group of friends or family, check the diameter of the bamboo steamer set you’re buying so you know you have a perfect size. Alternatively, you can also get a set with more than two tiers of steamer baskets.
- A lot of bamboo steamers nowadays are fitted with metal bands or stainless steel bands. As much as possible, avoid these. They tend to get hot while steaming and may burn your hand as you handle the steamer baskets.
If you really want to get along with a bang for your buck, check out the Prime Home Direct Bamboo Steamer Basket. This set comes in 2 sizes, and also includes 2 pairs of chopsticks, a sauce dish, and 50 liners so you can use it as soon as it arrives at your doorstep.
Bamboo steamers have been used in Asian cooking for thousands of years, not just for steaming dumplings and dim sum, but for all kinds of foods as well. Having one of these will definitely be a great addition to the arsenal of any clever cook.
Do you have any questions about how to use a bamboo steamer? Ask us in the comments section below!