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Healthful Cooking in a Bamboo Steamer

Healthful Cooking in a Bamboo Steamer
A healthful cooking method, steaming uses no fat and helps preserve vitamins and minerals. It is a more gentle process than boiling, simmering or poaching, thereby retaining the foods shape, color, flavor and texture.

Chinese cooks have long relied on bamboo steamers, which absorb excess moisture and prevent condensation from dripping on the food. Constructed of a circular bamboo frame, the steamer features a slatted bamboo bottom that allows steam to move freely within the cooking chamber. The domed bamboo-mesh lid helps circulate heat.

Bamboo steamers are designed to fit snugly against the sides of a wok above the steaming water. They can be stacked two or three high, so you can steam a meal of meat, fish and vegetables, each in separate baskets but in the same pot. Put longer-cooking foods in the bottom steamer and faster-cooking ones in the upper steamers.

The food can be placed directly on the bamboo-slat base or on a plate or shallow bowl set on the base. If placing the food directly on the base, line the basket with parchment paper before each use to prevent the steamer from absorbing flavors. The basket can be lined with cabbage leaves or banana leaves instead.

To use a bamboo steamer in a wok, follow these simple steps: Place the wok on the stovetop and pour in water to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Set the steamer in the pan, making sure that it sits above the water. Bring the water to a boil and place the food on the steamer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam until the food is done. Use caution when opening the lid as the steam can burn.