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Tips from the Experts

How to Hack a Bamboo Steamer for Dumplings

Don’t have one? No problem. We teach you how to mimic a bamboo steamer using what you already have in your kitchen. 
By Published Dec. 8, 2022

Originating in China, bamboo steamers' most widely known use is probably cooking and serving dim sum dishes. Inside, their bottoms are level, making them ideal for steaming any food that needs to sit flat during cooking. Meanwhile, their woven construction allows moist air to pass through without accumulating on the bottom.

Undeniably, they are the best way to cook my recipe for Har Gow (Crystal Shrimp Dumplings) and most other dumplings. You just place the dumplings inside two steamer baskets (most steamers come with multiple tiers), stack them, and set them in a covered wok filled with a couple inches of boiling water. 

But if you don’t own a bamboo steamer, don’t worry. You can steam dumplings with something you already have. A plate. 

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The following trick will work with dumplings that cook in less than 10 minutes. With longer cook times, too much water accumulates on the plate, sogging out your dumplings. 

How to Steam Dumplings Without a Steamer 

  1. Arrange dumplings on an oval platter (or square plate) about 2 inches shorter in length than the diameter of the wok lid (or diameter of Dutch oven) that you are using. 
  2. Bring 3/4 to 1 inch water to boil in wok over high heat.
  3. When water is boiling, set the plate in the wok (it will rest on wok sides) or set it on a bowl placed right side up in a Dutch oven. Cover and steam.

Steam the dumplings an extra minute or two beyond what is recommended, and be sure to transfer them to a serving platter immediately after steaming so that they don’t absorb the moisture that’s collected on the plate. 

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.