Bamboo Steamer Cooking

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
fish in a chinese bamboo steamer

Bamboo steamer cooking will get you all steamed up in a good way. A steamer has really helped us eat delicious seafood more often. It’s even better with a handy dipping sauce and some steamed vegetables.

fish in a chinese bamboo steamer

I gave away my rusted out steel wok years ago and haven’t missed it a bit. Of course, it only took me three moves and three kitchens to figure out the wok wasn’t worth the real estate. Why do we lug possessions around that we never use? The wok is a goner, but I make room in the cupboard for a bamboo steamer. I love it because it is the easy way to enjoy fresh seafood more often.

You don’t need a wok to steam over either. Use any pot the steamer fits in. Here’s a good trick–turn a small bowl upside down in the bottom of the pot to lift the steamer a bit. Works great. Use whatever inspires you at the market—meaty, mild white fish or salmon varieties are ideal—and arrange the fish in a single layer in the bottom of the steamer. Place the covered steamer over a simmering aromatic water bath flavored with pieces of onion, ginger, lemon or lime and/or garlic and a splash of wine.

The amounts and ingredients are not critical, just be sure the steamer is above the liquid so it doesn’t boil up over the fish. That’s nice fresh grouper in the top picture. We may have overcrowded it, but it worked out fine.

Fill the top layer of the steamer with Asian greens or other vegetables. The greens probably won’t take as long as the fish, so add the second steamer layer during the middle of cooking. A pile of hot rice and a drizzle of Handy Ginger Soy Sauce is all you need.

Steamed dumplings are next on the list.

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