Plastic steamers are a take on the classic Asian cookware choice. Originally made from bamboo, these baskets were the accepted oven in China when ovens were scarce, and were used to cook everything from meats and vegetables to cakes. The baskets are fast and efficient tools that keep moisture in and they take minimal heat, unlike ovens. 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.
Plastic steamer sets are fashioned after the visual appeal of bamboo baskets. Each plastic steamer 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. Many times, multiple types of food will be cooked together in the same basket. Meats, seafood and vegetables are separated by tiers with the food requiring the longest cooking time placed on the bottom. This allows the flavors of the foods to mingle and complement each other.
Before putting a plastic steamer’s timeless cooking methods to work, it is a good idea to line each tier with parchment paper or cabbage leaves. This practice keeps foods from sticking and makes cleanup an easy process.