Any tips for first time bamboo steamer?

Found some lovely bamboo steamers in Chinatown today, brought them home, gave them a wash, and am eager to get cooking. I bought a tiny one for every day single serving cooking and a huge 10 inch one for steaming barley/rice for fermenting adventures (rice wine, miso, &c). Think I'll start with some steamed buns:

Do you have any good tips on how to use and care for a bamboo steamer? I've been googling around, but would love to hear what you guys think of them. Do bamboo steamers have any advantages over metal ones? Other than price, being made from a renewable resource, and according to the girl in the shop, the bamboo ones smell like mama's home cooking.

What's your favourite recipe for steaming?

Since my steamers are two tiered, I would like to cook two different dishes at once. Which level gets hottest - ie where should I cook the meat? The top because heat rises, or the bottom because it's closest to the heat source? I'll get the thermometer out tomorrow and test, but maybe someone here knows the answer off the top of their head?



ChezHenry November 13, 2014
My only advice is be careful. Steam burns are intense! I make a simple Chinese style steamed sea bass in mine all the time. Next time you're in Chinatown, pick out a live one, have them clean it, and bring it home for dinner. Do a search on Chinese whole steamed fish.
trampledbygeese November 13, 2014
Thanks for the inspiration. Wow, I wish we had live fish in Chinatown. Lots of dried fish that I'm eager to learn how to cook, but no fresh. But I'm excited to see all the delicious looking fish dishes that come up when I did that search.

I wonder... we do have a lot of salmon. Never had steamed salmon before.
ChezHenry November 13, 2014
I guess when you said Chinatown i thought u were in nyc! I live here, have a Chinese wife and shop in NYC's Chinatown frequently. Any firm white fish, or salmon as you stated is a great candidate for this treatment.
bigpan November 13, 2014
If steaming items like dim-sum, it is best to place the items on a bed (one layer) of cabbage or lettuce leaves
Greenstuff November 13, 2014
I've been thinking I should use my bamboo steamers more too!

Use and care shouldn't be a big deal. I put vegetables right on the steamer. But for messier dishes that might stick, I use paper liners especially made for the steams. You could also use parchment paper or something like a cabbage leaf.

As for the top and bottom question, it isn't generally a question of where it gets hottest but rather one of cooking times. You put the dish that will take longer to cook on the bottom, so you can take the top one off earlier.

Have fun!
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