Bamboo steam baskets are a staple utensil in Asian cooking. These support food over boiling water, letting the steam cook the food. Unlike metal steamers, bamboo baskets absorb excess moisture, yielding food that is perfectly steamed without becoming soggy from condensation. Once you have a bamboo steamer basket, take care of it properly to ensure that it will last for years.
Part of caring for a bamboo steamer basket is using it correctly. Place the steamer on a rack in your wok or a pot to keep the boiling water from touching the bamboo lattice in the bottom of the steamer. Stack the baskets for cooking several foods at once, but keep the lid on the basket on the top to keep the steam in the bamboo baskets so it cooks the food.
Cooking Sticky Foods
To protect the wood mesh inside the steamer, when cooking foods prone to sticking like dumplings, you must line the interior of the steamer. Cabbage, banana or lettuce leaves are natural options that lightly flavor the food. Parchment paper, bowls, plates or greased aluminum foil are inedible options. Ensure that there is space between the liner and the edge of the bamboo basket to allow for steam to rise into the basket. Using liners with foods most likely to stick will prevent food particles from remaining on the bamboo after you use the basket. If those food bits stay stuck on the bamboo lattice in the basket, they could mold.
Bamboo steamer baskets should never be submerged in water. Scrub the baskets with a nylon scrub brush and soapy water. Rinse off the water and dry the basket with a towel. Leave the basket out overnight to air-dry completely after washing it to ensure that there is no more mildew-causing water in the basket.
Storing bamboo steamer baskets properly prevents mold and mildew development and keeps the baskets from cracking. Once the baskets have air-dried completely after washing, store the basket and lids separately in a cool, dry spot. Do not seal bamboo steamers in plastic to prevent condensation. Keep the steamer on a shelf and do not store other cookware on top of the basket to prevent it from cracking. Excessive drying can also lead to cracking, but this can be prevented by keeping the bamboo steamer basket hydrated through regular use.