Bamboo steamers, known as "the microwaves of Asia," are as versatile as they are cheap and easy to cook with. Great for steaming fish, vegetables and dim sum, you can buy bamboo steamers in most Asian markets or online for about $20. The steamers come with two layers allowing you to prepare multiple dishes at the same time. I recommend getting a big one -- 12", but a 10" will do. You will need a wok or a pot to fill with water and place under the bamboo steamer. If you don't own a wok, the key is to make sure you have a pot that is the same circumference as your steamer. My 12" steamer fits perfectly into my 9-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Healthy cooking technique
Bamboo steamers allow your to cook your food with no added oil or fat.
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How to use a bamboo steamer
Pre-soaking and cleaning
Before each use soak the steamer for about 20 minutes so the bamboo does not burn.
To clean your steamer avoid soap as the steamer may pick up the flavors of the soap. I rinse and scrub my steamer by hand. If needed, I rub with a cut lemon to remove any fishy odors. Allow to air dry thoroughly before storing.
Lining the steamer
When cooking fish you need to line the steamer with cabbage leaves or parchment paper. Some recipes call for placing a small plate in the steamer to hold the fish. The advantage of a plate is it collects the juices of the fish. The disadvantage is the fish stews in the juices instead of steaming. Personally, I prefer the visual presentation of cabbage leaves.
My favorite steamed fish recipe
Where to buy a bamboo steamer
Bamboo steamers can be purchased at many Asian grocery stores. Or you can purchase a variety of steamers at Amazon.