Doughboy -ruokablogi

Steaming – The New Black of Cooking

Alotta steamers in ChinaHomer: “See Marge, they could deep-fry my shirt.”
Marge: “I didn’t say they couldn’t. I said you shouldn’t.”

When it comes to my new love – steaming – Marge’s wisdom of avoiding the unknown doesn’t quite apply: Why don’t you try to steam something you haven’t before! Besides, frying pretty much destroys any and all flavor of the ingredients :)

I bought my Chinese bamboo steamer years ago when I was strolling the kitchen supply isles of my local Target in Boston. I had recently returned from Hong Kong, and the ubiquitous bamboo steamers there caught my eye. It was less than $20, so I bought it on a whim. Back at home I realized the steamer was too big to fit in any of my pots or pans. Too lazy to return it, I showed the box on top of my kitchen cupboards where it has been ever since. Until last week.

I happened to buy heaps of bok choy and green beans from a nearby Asian market, and at the same time Anna was telling about her steaming experiments in New York. I remembered my ill-fated steamer, dug it out from a closet, re-read the instruction pamphlet, and had an epiphany: Steam is hot. Heat goes up. Ha! I finally realized that I could simply place the steamer on top of a big pot instead of trying to fit it inside one. Works like a charm! (And no worries about setting the steamer on fire, sis ;)

Chinese Lotus Buns

Chinese buns, dumplings, dim sum – whatever the name – are often steamed. When people think about Chinese food in Finland, it’s most likely that stir-frying comes first to mind. Before I started traveling in South East Asia, I also associated Chinese cooking with fat-dripping and really unhealthy-looking woks. Now I realize there are tons of literally fat free steamed dishes (i.e. no added fat).

The buns pictured above are filled with lotus paste, and many varieties of similar ready-to-be steamed buns can be bought in an Asian market near you. Frozen buns make a tasty side dish for any Asian meal. 10-15 minutes in a steamer and voilà:

Steamed Lotus Buns

The beauty of steaming is it’s speed and versatility: While heating a few buns, you can also cook the main course in the same bamboo tower. Steaming is also a very quick way to prepare food, almost comparable to a microwave oven! A hearty fillet of fish is ready in six minutes, veggies included.

Lets have a look at this big fella I bought yesterday. (I asked for a half salmon and that’s exactly what I got…)


Earlier I’ve always either pan fried fish or baked it in the oven. After filleting the poor salmon I butterflied some of it, whipped up a quick thai marinade, rinsed a heap of bok choy and placed everything in the bamboo steamer. It’s a good idea to put fish and other potentially smelly stuff on a plate to protect the steamer.

Steamed Norwegian salmon in Thai marinade and bok choy

For those who haven’t seen or used bamboo steamers before, the baskets can be piled in a tower, so you only need one source of steam. Six minutes on top of a pot of boiling water, and the meal is ready. That’s what I call fast food :)

Steamed Norwegian salmon in Thai marinade and bok choy

Salmon in Thai Sauce

Serves 2 (480 kcal / serving)

1 bunch cilantro with stems and roots
12 mint leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 large red chilli, finely chopped (or dried chilli)
2 limes
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
2 x 200 g (7 oz) Norwegian salmon fillets
plenty of bok choy

Mix cilantro, mint, ginger, garlic, salt, chilli, juice of the limes and nam pla in a food processor until a smooth paste.

Use 2/3 of the sauce to marinate the fish for 20-30 minutes. Place bok choy and salmon fillets on a plate in a steamer and steam for six minutes.

Pour the reserved sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

12 Responses to “Steaming – The New Black of Cooking”  

  1. Anna

    Voitko kertoo mist? Helsingist? saa lootuspullia?

  2. Antti

    Vii Voanista (yll?ri). Aseanic Tradingissa on ziljoonaa muuta kiinapullasorttia, mutta lotukset siell? taisivat olla lopussa. Vii Voanissa oli sek? lotus pastella ett? lotus seedeill? tehtyj

  3. MM

    Hey, thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comment! I luuurve steaming and I use my bambo steamer all the time. And talk about food porn, when I saw the photo of the lianrong bao, I went “Oooohh!” … sad.

    Great site!

  4. Robyn

    Thanks for your comment! I saw referrals from your site and was like “WHOA WHAT LANGUAGE IS THIS?” ;D I wish I could read more of your blog, hehe. Dammit, why do I only know English?


  5. Antti

    MM, thanks for visiting too :) You live in Singapore, I guess? I wish I could spend more time in SE-Asia, I’m totally in love with the food there! I visited Singapore last December, and had very good Chili Crabs there. Yummy!

  6. Chili&Vanília

    Hi Antti and Anna!
    Wohooo, a post in English, how great!!!Although I was about telling you that one of my kind readers offered to do some translation for you into Finnish:) (she is a finnish translator)see the commentbox of the avocado post.
    This post is great, in fact, I was inspired by Andreea at Glorious Food and Wine and then your post about Cambodian food to buy a bammboo steamer. I already tried it, I think it will be a new favorite!
    Uh, but that salmon looks scary:)

  7. Anna

    Hi Zsofi,
    Wonderful and very helpful, I will definitely ask Eszter for some translations, your site has so many fabulous recipes. Food blogs are such an amazing thing – in Finland, I have a tiny Gundel’s cookbook from Budapest, but it is much more fun to learn what people actually eat at home. And your pics are simply mouthwatering.

    We wish you many creative moments with your bamboo steamer! I know Antti and I are completely bonkers, but fish prepared in a steamer is a revelation – the flavors are locked in the fish, and the texture of the fish becomes undescribably delicious. Just check often – 5 to 6 minutes goes a long way (10 for really thick cuts); overcooking will ruin the fish. And watch out for burns! Steam is almost invisible and seems so innocuous – but it is actually very hot, and always end up burning my fingers ;)

  8. Eszter

    Hei Anna,

    Oli ihanaa l?yt?? taikinapojan ja lukea suomeksi ruoka-asioista. Ja viel? ihanampaa, ett? kirjoitat niin l?mpim?sti Unkarista ja Budapestist?. Kyll? suomalaisten vieraittemme m??r?st? p??tellen Unkari sijoittuu hyvin suosittujen kaupunkien listalla. (Ja toisena tekij?n? varmasti vaikuttavat suomalaisittain edulliset hinnat.)
    Niin, resepttik??nn?spalvelun tarjous on voimassa, kysy vaan jos olet Zsofin blogissa l?yt?nyt jotain kiinnostavaa. H?n postaa (onkohan se oikea verbi?) joitakin unkarilaisia resepttej? my?s englanniksi juuri sinunlaisia lukijoita varten. Tykk??n h?nen l?hestymistavastaan unkarilaisiin klassikkoihin, tarvitsisimme juuri sellaisen vision??rin, joka nostaisi unkarilaisen keitti?n takaisin vanhaan loistoonsa. Syventym?tt? t?h?n hyvin vaativaan aiheeseen ja s??st?en sinua siit? l?het?n terveisi?, Eszter

  9. Anna

    Hei Eszter,
    Mahtavaa kun l?ysit blogimme – suomesi on fantastista! Sinun pit?isi oikeastaan ruveta bloggaamaan meid?n saitillemme – paranisi kirjallisen ilmaisun taso kertaheitolla ;) Joskus viel? haluan opetella unkaria… teill?p?in reissatessa yksitt?iset sanat tarttuivat nopeasti korvaan, kun kielen nuotti on niin tuttu, mutta eiv?th?n sana p??ss? pysy jollei saa jatkuvaa kielikylvetyst?. Budapest on mielest?ni kosmopoliittinen tavalla jota Helsinki vasta hapuilee, muusta Suomesta puhumattakaan. Mutta nyth?n me jo olemme samaa valtakuntaa…

    Velipoika joka on rantautunut Bostonista Suomen leveyksille haluaa mieluiten blogata englanniksi, mutta koska olen toistaiseksi ulkosuomalainen, aion postailla omaksi ilokseni edelleen my?s suomeksi. Suomenkieliset juttuni ovat vastedes piilossa viestin lopussa, jos haluat niit? lukea. L?mpim?t terveiset!


  10. Sanna

    Oi mik? blogi, l?ysin t?nne t?n??n (olen juuttunut jo aika pitk?ksi aikaa…) Hienoja kuvia ja todella mielenkiintoista luettavaa!

    Sitten k?ynkin suoraan ruoka-asiaan: oletteko testanneet ihan tavallista h?yrytyskattilaa, ja onko tuo bambuh?yryh?ss?kk? paljonkin parempi? Olen my?skin innostunut h?yrytt?misest?, ja mietin tietysti lis?hankintoja :)

  11. Antti

    Hei Sanna! En ole kokeillut h?yrytyskattilaa, joskin en ymm?rr? miksei ne toimisi yht? hyvin kuin bambuinen. Ainoa ero voi olla se, ett? bambuh?yryttimen kansi p??st?? h?yryn l?vitseen, eli vesi ei p??se tiivistym??n kanteen ja valumaan takaisin ruuan p??lle. Lis?ksi bambuinen on niin kivan n?k?inen ett? se tuo mukavan lis?s?v?yksen keitti??n, ja siin? ruuan kehtaa kantaa vaikka p?yt??n asti.

  12. Anna

    Olin juuri pist?ytym?ss? Hong Kongissa ja siell? dim sum -ravintoloissa tuotiin h?yrytetyt nyytit ja pullat p?yt??n s?p?iss? pikku bambuh?yryttimiss?.

    Mulla on itse asiassa kaksi bambuista h?yrytystornia, pienempi erilaisille nyyteille ja isokokoinen bambuh?yrytin joka vet?isee kokonaisen lautasen sis??ns? taas kalalle ja sen vihanneslisukkeille (lautasta k?ytt?m?ll? h?yrytin pysyy).

    Olemme aivan hulluna esim. teriyakimaustettuun h?yrytettyyn lohifileeseen. Antti antaa teriyaki-kastikkeen reseptin toisaalla blogissa, marinoi siin? 1-2 lohifileen puolikasta puoli tuntia ja h?yryt? sitten 6-8 min. H?yrytt?minen antaa kalalle aivan uskomattoman tekstuurin, mik??n osa kalasta ei mene hukkaan, ja tiski? s??styy.


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