Last year I bought a bamboo steamer in a Chinese shop in the center of Lisbon. A friend of mine recommended it to me, since it is a fast and healthy way to steam veggies, rice, grains and even tofu.
The principle is quite simple. A bamboo steamer is being stuffed with veggies or grains and is after that being placed in a cooking pot, that contains a very small amount (three centimeters) of water, veggies stock or white wine. Veggies and rice don’t have real contact with the water which provides a great taste, preserves all the important vitamins and makes especially sticky rice taste awesome.
The bamboo steamer cost me around five bucks, which seems to be a pretty average price. Out of curiosity I checked Amazon after and found some steamers, that were quite pricey (around 30 bucks). I would recommend comparing prices before buying one! And consider, that an expensive steamer is not necessarily the better option! I also read a couple of bad reviews, since some of the bamboo steamers contain glue or plastics. Make sure, that this is not the case, since you don’t want to have any chemicals in your food! A traditional steamer is tied together with small stripes of bamboo.
My first two trials were not really successful, since the food had a very strong bamboo taste, that I really disliked. I did a little bit of research after and found out, that the steamer you need to place the bamboo steamer in a bowl full of water before the first usage. I tried it, watered my steamer for the whole morning and the result was really good and lacked woody notes.
Since small grains can easily fall through the bamboo mesh in the bottom of the pot, it is recommended to cover it with a piece of cloth. I don’t want to use anything, that had contact with washing powder, so I used a big cabbage leaf instead (also looks super pretty).
First I placed a cabbage leaf and basmati rice in the bottom. Tip: You can reduce the steaming time, if you soak your rice or grains for a couple of hours before steaming!
Then I closed the bottom and stuffed the top of the steamer with broccoli and carrots. Since I wanted to add some extra flavor, I placed some pieces of garlic and bay leafs between the carrots.
After that I put a lid on the bamboo steamer and placed it in a large pot. I added three centimeters of water and put the pot on a stove. Important: You need to add small amounts of water all the time, since it boils away very quicky. So even though if cooking with the bamboo steamer is super easy, better don’t leave it unattended!
It took me a total of 25 minutes to steam rice and veggies. I also tried the cabbage leaf after, but it tasted quite bitter and woody. I guess, that it soaked a lot of the typical bamboo flavors. Another day I steamed potatoes as well, which was a quite fast and easy process. And the best: You can put veggies, that require a lot of cooking time in the bottom and fast-cooking veggies on the top.
I think in the future I mainly gonna use the steamer for the preparation of rice, since I never ate an equally tasty, homemade rice. If you seek authentic taste, that you might know from Asian restaurants, I can really recommend a bamboo steamer! And the main advantage for everyone, who wants to eat healthy: There is no need for fat while cooking with a bamboo steamer. The veggies also don’t loose a great deal of nutrients during preparation.
After usage, you simply clean the bamboo steamer with hot water. Since I am vegan and there is no meat, fish or any other animal product involved, I am not too worried about germs or bacteria. Anyways, it is crucial, to let the bamboo steamer dry properly after using it, in order to avoid mould. I really like to use the steamer quite often, so I usually just keep it on the kitchen corner.
If you have any other question about bamboo steamers, please feel free to share it with me!
I am Julia, vegan by heart, traveler and minimalist based in beautiful Portugal. I love simple but delicious food, ashtanga, skating, surfing and having a nice conversation over snacks and a glass of wine. I am blogging about vegan food, my minimalist journey, life hacks and my experiences as a traveler.