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Where Healthy Cooking Proves an Art
on February 11, 2012
My daughter and I studied online videos and recipes before I tried my first meal with this tool. Its somewhat larger than you might expect but suitable to cook a meal for four up to or eight people at once. These are a few hints I would offer from that experience:
1) you must thoroughly rinse and scrub the steamer before first use. You cannot use soap or harsh tools to do so. I filled our kitchen sink with very hot water, soaked it piece by piece and use a soft rubber scrub to work away the tiny slivers that are inherent to its bamboo nature.
2) when drying, set it over towels preferably in the sun and stack it as it came....otherwise it may dry warped.
3) while a large saucepan under it may work, my IKEA sized wok was perfect for this unit. You must fill the clean and grease free wok with about one and a half to two inches of water. Bring to a rapid rolling boil (do not add salt to the water) and set the bamboo steamer with items in place and carefully sealed shut into the wok where it should not be sitting in the water but just over it.
4) DO buy the simple parchment paper that you can get at the grocery store near the tin foil and plastic wrap (don't get the wax backed paper.) Lay a cut sheet over the open steamer unit and press into the bottom, use a finger to create a crease that matches the inner dimensions of the steamer...cut to size and lay one piece in each of the two sections of the steamer where you intend to place the food. (You will be very glad you did when cleanup time comes and you DON'T have to scrub out tiny food particles trapped in the woven bamboo slats.)
5)DO NOT reuse this paper, cut a new piece each time you steam food.
6) take care to note how long foods need to steam - each item you cook may be different. I found that ten minutes of steaming was perfect for whitefish filets and asparagus spears but too long for broccoil. Place your meat at the bottom layer of the two layers of this unit and veggies on the top layer.
7) TAKE CARE to stand back when you open the steamer lid while it is cooking or just after being removed from heat. The steam is VERY HOT! This steamer is not ideal for children to work with. Get a couple pot holders to carefully remove it from the steaming wok and set it onto a towel because it will drip.
I found that the sauce I used to marinate the fish all steamed out of it while cooking. While it may work to add things like fresh herbs, lemon or ginger and peppers over the cooking meat, sauces may just steam out. Add them before serving. This first meal I steamed was very bland. I cooked rice with it and we wanted to add soy or other sauce to the veggies, meat and rice. If bland doesn't bother you, steam the fish and dip it in mayo and drizzle with fresh lemon juice. The asparagus was delicious with just butter but the overcooked broccoli just had to be eaten quickly.
I will use this unit again but hope to find some tips to make the food less bland although it is extremely healthy and very well cooked this way. Everything was tender and moist. Since there is no oil used in this cooking process you can control exactly the amount of fat that goes into your body. Once you begin steaming the entire meal will be done in ten or fifteen minutes. Better have your table set and guests at hand. If I can learn to create sauces and seasonings to give it more flavor, the art of using it will match its health qualities and ease of use.