By Christina Chaey. Photo by: Alex Lau, styling by Sue Li.
Two years ago I threw a D.I.Y. soup-dumpling party that required me to buy an array of kitchen tools I fully expected never to use again: small wooden dowels, plastic soup spoons, and a two-tiered bamboo steamer. Though I was mostly right (why, oh why, did I think it was a good idea to buy a 12-pack of Chinese-style soup spoons?), that steamer has become my shortcut to getting dinner on the table when the last thing I want to do is, you know, get dinner on the table.
Set in a shallow skillet of simmering water or broth, a steamer effortlessly transforms the humblest ingredients into a meal: a hunk of firm tofu with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce; a pile of steamed sliced squash ready to be drizzled with a miso-spiked dressing; even a few emergency frozen pork dumplings. The combination of water and heat makes quick work of even the heartiest chunks of turnips or beets—and it does so without a drop of oil. Unlike, say, sautéing, the process is almost entirely hands-off. Cooking with a steamer embodies the ease of a microwave dinner but leaves you with a tangle of vibrant, nutrient-dense vegetables instead of a mound of droopy mystery items that once resembled carrots. Now to find a use for those soup spoons…
Choose Your Steamer
Our Test Kitchen swears by lightweight, collapsible, easy-to-clean metal steamer baskets ($8), which can contract or expand to fit inside any pot.
A bamboo steamer set ($24) is ideal for quickly cooking a combo of vegetables and proteins—get a chicken breast or fish fillet going on the bottom tier first while you prep veg for the top.
The stovetop- and oven-safe ceramic base of the gorgeous JIA steamer pot and basket ($139) can also be used separately for stews, soups, and braises, which justifies the amount of cabinet space it takes up.
Time to get steamy: Steamed Vegetables with Rice and Miso-Ginger Dressing
This story originally appeared on Bon Appetit.
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