Bamboo steamers are the classic Asian cookware choice. These steamer baskets were the original oven in China when ovens were scarce, and were used to cook everything from meats and vegetables to cakes. The baskets are a fast and efficient tool that keep moisture in and take minimal heat. In modern times, they have been praised as a healthy cooking tool since no fats or oils are required to make a thoroughly cooked, delicious meal.
These bamboo steamers are earth-friendly too. Made from 100 percent bamboo, the baskets are fashioned from renewable resources and inexpensive to replace. The intricate aromas released from the bamboo are a savory reminder of true Asian cooking. Each basket is tightly woven to hold in the flavors, unlike basic steaming methods which allow fragrances to escape with the steam. Nutrients are also held inside the foods, allowing the true flavors and unique traits of each food to fully manifest within the steamer.
Generally during steaming, the bottom of the basket is layered with parchment paper or cabbage leaves to prevent sticking. Many varieties of bamboo steamers are available with multiple tiers, each of which can be layered with parchment paper or cabbage leaves. It is a common practice to cook a variety of foods together in one basket but separated by tiered platforms. Meats, seafood and vegetables can all be cooked together with the type requiring the longest cooking time placed on the bottom tier. This allows the flavors of the foods to mingle and complement each other.