How to use a bamboo steamer

bamboo steamer

It’s a question that we are sure you, our customers have been asking yourself for a while and that is, how exactly do you use a bamboo steamer?

It is a vital tool when the time comes to cooking up authentic Asian cuisine, but how do you go about steaming?

A bamboo steamer is a versatile cooking tool often used to steam dumplings but can in fact be used in the same way as a 3-tier steamer, used to steam cook meat, fish and vegetables.

A healthy alternative to cooking, when you use a steamer there is no need to add oil and when steaming, you allow the ingredients to withhold their natural flavours and vitamins, improving the overall eating experience.

In this blog we aim to educate you on the benefits of cooking with a bamboo steamer but also how to use a steamer for those people who are still unsure.

Use your wok

To get steaming, you will need to place the bamboo steamer over a pot of hot water. A wok makes the perfect steaming tool, by placing a wok half filled with water on the hob, place your bamboo steamer onto the wok so that it fits comfortably.

When you use the wok to steam the water, the curved shape is ideal as it allows you to place your steamer into the wok without the steamer touching the water. When you place your steamer into the water, you want your steamer to hover just above.

Let the water simmer

After you have added the water into your wok and placed it on the hob, leave the wok until the water begins to simmer. Once the water has begun to simmer, with the lid on, place the bamboo steamer into the wok

Line the bamboo steamer

Before you can start adding food to the steamer you will need to line the bamboo baskets. One of the cheapest, but most popular ways to line your bamboo steamer is by using either cabbage or lettuce leaves.

Banana leaves or grape leaves are an idea to consider if you want to create a deeper, more intense flavour.

Single layer

Whether you are steaming dumplings, vegetables or strips of meat, be sure to place the ingredients in single layers. If you run out of space, you will need to line and layer the tier above. When placing your dumplings into the steamer, try not to cram them all in, as they will need space to cook and stop them from sticking together.

Leave it to slow cook

When you steam, you are welcoming in a world of slow cooking and letting time take its course. If you are steaming dumplings, be expected for it to take anywhere from 15-20 minutes before they have cooked.

During this time waiting for your meal to slowly steam, you may want to check that there is still plenty of water in the wok. To check, you will need to remove the steamer, but be careful as the steamer can be hot to touch so we advise using either a pot grab or a gauntlet.

If water is required, add more and gently place the steamer back onto the wok.


Have you just purchased a bamboo steamer? Or perhaps you are considering treating yourself to this handy little tool; take a look at our School of Wok collection or if you are after inspiration on what to cook within your steamer, we highly recommend Hong Kong Diner by Jeremy Pang.

School of wok bamboo steamer