10 Recipes that Will Turn You into a Steamer Basket Person

published May 26, 2023
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Chinese Steamed Buns in bamboo steamer.
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

While I hold a special place in my heart (and on my countertop) for my air fryer and my rice cooker, one of my favorite cooking vessels requires no electricity to work its magic. My steamer basket is always my go-to when I want a nourishing, flavorful meal and I want it lightning-fast. The one that I use is a traditional bamboo steamer, which is a stack of round, interlocked trays that gets placed over a pot of simmering water for the steam to circulate through and cook the food one each layer. Steamer varieties are aplenty nowadays, but they all serve the same purpose. 

Knowing how to steam and having a steamer set-up that works for you opens up to new ways to enjoy a wide range of dishes. If you love to microwave frozen food or leftovers but hate how sometimes things come out too dry or unevenly heated, steaming will provide the ease you love only with the satisfying food you crave. Not only does the power of water and heat do wonders for traditional Asian recipes like char siu bao and sticky nian gao rice cake, but it has the potential to level up the way your favorite vegetables and whole proteins — and it’s often done without a single touch of oil. 

Here, now, are 10 out of the many tasty ways you can make a steamer basket your new kitchen workhorse. 

1 / 10
Chinese Steamed Buns (Gua Bao Buns)
Gua bao buns, or pocket-style steamed buns, are the perfect, fluffy vehicle to stuff with the flavorful offerings from your Chinese bao board - or truly anything you crave!
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2 / 10
Sizzling Fish
This Cantonese steamed fish is topped with ginger, green onions, and fermented black beans.
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3 / 10
Artichokes
A step-by-step guide to prepping, cooking, and eating artichokes.
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4 / 10
Chinese-Style Spicy Eggplant Salad
Chinese eggplants are steamed, torn into pieces, then coated in a moderately spicy sauce and served cold or at room temperature.
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5 / 10
Taiwanese Fresh Peanut Mochi
Pleasantly Q-textured fresh mochi has a subtle sweetness and a nutty aroma from the peanut mixture that coats each bite-sized piece.
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6 / 10
Char Siu Bao (Chinese Steamed Pork Buns)
A complete step-by-step guide to making the dim sum favorite of soft fluffy buns filled with sweet Chinese barbecued pork (char siu).
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7 / 10
Nian Gao
A chewy, sticky, traditional steamed Chinese cake to celebrate Chinese New Year.
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8 / 10
Steamed Asian Pear
This steamed pear is wonderfully warming and throat-soothing after a chilly day, and incredibly easy to prepare.
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9 / 10
Cheung Fun (Rice Noodle Rolls)
When steamed fresh, these rice noodle rolls are bouncy, chewy, a little slippery, and the perfect blank canvas for your sauce of choice.
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10 / 10
Xôi Gấc (Red Sticky Rice)
This red sticky rice can be eaten on its own with toppings, or paired with savory dishes.
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