Lukara, A Journey into Steam
For thousands of years the Chinese people have invented many great culinary utensils such as the cleaver, wok, steam pot, ginger greater, and many many more. One of the most well-known amongst these cooking innovations is the bamboo steamer. Dating back over 5000 years, the bamboo steamer is now used worldwide by chefs and home cooking enthusiasts alike.
If you are familiar with these wonderful cooking contraptions then you may already know just how versatile and invaluable a cooking utensil they can be, but do you know just what all they are good for? Whether or not you know the bamboo steamer, read on and we will take a deeper look at just how much of a kitchen staple they can and should be.
Let’s start with what is a bamboo steamer? And how exactly do they work? A bamboo steamer consists of interlocking bamboo layers stacked one on top of another. Each layer has solid round sides with a loosely woven bamboo bottom, similar to a lattice fence, so the steam can penetrate each layer and evenly envelop the food inside. On top of porous layers sits a much tighter woven bamboo lid to lock in all the steam inside the structure. With solid sides, porous centers and a tightly woven lid, steam from the boiling water below evenly circulates inside uniformly cooking whatever is inside.
Now that we are familiar with what a bamboo steamer is and how they work, let’s explore some of the many benefits of using what is sure to become your new favorite kitchen gadget. Let’s start with some of the more commonly known benefits. What other cooking utensil can so efficiently cook an entire meal in such a small space? I’ll wait… Due to the unique stackable design of a bamboo steamer you can have your main course (Fish, chicken, oysters, etc.) cooking on the bottom layer while simultaneously cooking your veggies in an upper layer. In addition to being able to cook different things in different layers, the evenness of the cooking is unparalleled due to the total envelopment of steam inside the bamboo steamer (Assuming all things have been evenly distributed on each layer)
Still not 100% sold on the bamboo steamer?
What if I told you that unlike other traditional cooking methods such as boiling, baking, frying, etc… Using steam helps to more gently cook your food. This gentle process helps to preserve the natural flavors, lock in nutrients, and maintain both shape and textures of whatever deliciousness you are steaming up. And don’t think all steamers are created equal. All though any steamer is going to have its benefits over other methods, a bamboo steamer takes steaming up even another tier. Because of the natural moisture absorption of bamboo, unlike metal steamers, as the steam rolls all throughout the steamer excess moisture is collected by the bamboo instead of condensing and dripping back into your food.
I'm sure by now you are thinking what else could be said about the benefits of such a simple cooking device. Well I am here to tell you there is still more. Have you ever baked something and it goes from just fine to bone dry seemingly instantly? Say goodbye to that issue. When cooking with steam your food is consistently surrounded by moisture. Making drying your food a thing of the past. Whether you are making dumplings, boa buns, veggies, fish, eggs, or any one of the countless things you can make in this highly veritial cook apparatus, the quality of what comes out of the steam and onto your table is truly a delight.
In addition to the many cooking benefits of the bamboo steamer there are convenience and ecological benefits as well. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so cleaning up after your meal is a sinch. If cooking veggies or dumplings, simply remove whatever liner you used, rinse and let dry. If you made fish, or meat, a little soap and water, a good rinse and boom you're done. Again making sure the steamer is fully dried before putting it away. That being said, if you are like me, I leave mine on my counter because of how much I use it.
I know I mentioned ecological benefits, and I am sure you are thinking what ecological benefit could a cooking utensil possibly have? Ill tell you. Bamboo as you may know is one of the fastest growing, most renewable materials we have available to us. So unlike the metal, plastic, or any other wood used to make anything, bamboo products leave one of the smallest ecological dents possible. That way when you are cooking your food preserving the flavor and nutrients, you can smile knowing you are also helping to preserve the health of the planet.
Let's start with the where. In today's digital global market that we are all a part of, shopping possibilities are no longer limited to our local appliance store. We have the world literally at our fingertips. When purchasing your own bamboo steamer I personally do not believe you need to go anywhere other than your living room. The internet is great and we don’t need a salesman to sell us a steamer. So assuming you are taking my advice on the internet being your supplier let's talk about what to look for in a bamboo steamer.
There are countless manufactures of bamboo steamers out there, like most things in the world, and as I am sure you may have assumed, also like most things, NOT all steamers are created equally. Some things to consider are the quality of the craftsmanship. I personally like knowing my steamer was made by hand. This insures a few things. One it tells me that unlike something that rolled off an assembly line made by a robot that an actual human has touched it and can say it is more or less free of defects. Not to mention, I don't know about you, but I like knowing I am supporting a craftsman, not just helping fund the building of more robots. I won't even go through a self checkout line at the grocery store for the same reason. Support people making an honest wage… I digress.
Some other things for consideration are what if anything comes with the steamer you are considering to purchase. I recommend that if this is your first steamer or a gift of a steamer for a friend or loved one, that you look at a steamer bundle. The steamer by itself, all though great, it is nice to have a few goodies along with it. I purchased my bamboo steamer from Lukara at mylukara.com. They are an environmentally conscious company dedicated to sustainability and giving back to habitat restoration. Not only is the company worth the purchase, but the steamer bundle includes everything I could want or need to just open up and start steaming. My bundle included a 2 tier hand crafted steamer, a pack of reusable silicone liners, a set of both chopsticks and sauce ramekins, and a really nice recipe book with a great variety of recipes, cooking tips and care instructions. Doesn't get much more complete of a package than that.
By now I am sure you are eager to get yourself a bamboo steamer and not listen to me ramble on more about how wonderful my Lukara steamer is. So I will keep you no longer. I hope I have been a bit of a helping guide into your journey into steam. Now, go get your very own bamboo steamer and start enjoying the countless benefits yourself. You will be glad you did.