The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Steamers

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Steamers

Hi everyone,


Maybe someone can provide advice.  I bought a metal steamer to make some Asian dumplings and rolls (they also call for dough).  For some reason, the steamer I have has lots of water which fall into the rice cakes or whatever I'm doing and then ruins my cakes.  Does anyone know how to prevent water from going into the food that's being steamed.  I've heard of flour sacks, opening the lid a tad, cheese cloths, but they all seem clumsy.  I saw some posts that bamboo steamers would absorb some of the water but I get conflicting views about bamboo steamers.


I know we don't usually steam bread in North America, but has anyone used metal steamers before in an efficient way?

baltochef's picture
baltochef

The only time that I "baked" bread this way was several years ago..Most of the recipes that I have on hand seem to have originated in England, and tend to be named puddings, as opposed to breads..Perhaps, some of our European members could be of more assistance..


The methodology I employed was to place the bread in an enclosed mold that was then placed on some sort of stable surface (wire rack, brick, etc.) that itself was sitting in boiling water that was inside of a much larger covered pot..It was the 212F plus steam swirling around the exposed mold that provided the heat required to cook the bread in the mold..


I have used the same methodology to cook both vegetables and meats from various Asian cuisines..In this case a ceramic plate containing the food to be cooked was placed on the wire rack..I have an 8 qt. stockpot with a very domed lid that allows the condensed steam to run down the sides of the pot, minimizing drips on the food..The food is exposed to the steam, so it does have a wet texture that cannot possibly resemble dryer forms of cooking..


Bamboo steamers have existed for centuries, so I am not sure what concerns that were raised in the posts that you are referring to..One way to minimize, as much as it is possible to do so, drips with stacking steamers (bamboo, stainless steel, aluminum) is to steam the foods that you are trying to keep dry in one of the lower steamer baskets; while placing a clean cotton towel in the upper basket to absorb the moisture..This will reduce the efficiency of the steaming process somewhat, as steaming in stacked baskets depends upon the rapid, free movement of the steam through the steamer baskets..Placing anything in the upper basket, or on top of the cover, will to some degree impede the free movement of the steam..


I hope this helps somewhat..


Bruce

ques2008's picture
ques2008

I'm not really looking to steam bread per se; I'm just curious how some manage to come up with smooth, satin-like surfaces for their Asian rolls while mine are wrinkled and soggy (because of the water).


I will try the cloth thing; someone suggested covering the top and bottom layers with cloth but like you said, I think that would delay the steaming process.


Thanks for taking the time to reply.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

The recipe book that came with my $29 rice cooker/steamer has a recipe for making your Asian rolls. I haven't tried it yet, but now I think I will.


--Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I rarely make rice in my rice cooker, but I do use it for steaming vegetables. Specifically, I prefer vegetables steamed in it because come out without being water logged, whereas, vegetables cooked on the stove in one of those collapsable steamers always seemed to pick up a lot of water.


My rice cooker came with a steamer inset, but it is too close to the top to do thicker things so I often use the collapsable steam inside the rice cooker.


I think the rice cooker does such a good job because it is vented. The model I have is an Aroma--cost me $29 at Costco. I've had it for a number of years and it works great. Costco still sells them too.


Here it is on Amazon, but selling for $80.


--Pamela


 


 

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Thanks for your post, Pamela.  I have a rice cooker but there is no steamer feature included.  I strictly use it to make rice (which I eat everyday, being Asian).  The Asian rolls I'm talking about can't be steamed in a rice cooker simply because they all would not fit.


What I'm really looking for is a method to use the steamer in such a way that water does not spill into the food being steamed and hence ruin the shape.


I guess the best way is to do trial and error or visit a Chinese store in Chinatown and ask them how they steam rolls without the water going into them!

maurdel's picture
maurdel

I have wondered about this too. I have read and/or seen on tv, asian chefs who say you can place any food on a plate and simply place it in a pot to steam. When I have tried this, I always get a pool of water around the food. How come the food on TV never seems all wet?


I have also tried my hand at steamed dumplings and they too came out quite wet and wrinkly.


I think next time I will crack the lid open a bit, maybe just angling it will direct the water away from the food.


Please please, if you find anything out do post it here. I'm sure there is a super secret simple thing we are not doing. I'm dying to know what it is.

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Many Aian restaurants have special S.S. woks that they use to steam in with bamboo steamers..These same woks are used with a heavy wire rack that props a plate of steamed food high above the boiling water..The lids to these woks are heavily domed so that the condensed steam (hot water) rolls down the sides of the lid / wok back into the boiling water..The woks are large enough that the rim of a big plate is quite far away from the sides of the wok..Foods are only kept in the wok for the minimum amount of time necessary to cook through..Steamed foods are generally allowed to rest for a minute to "dry" off a little at room temperatures..

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Just another thought. My rice cooker has a vent on its top. When I'm steaming, steam is pouring out that vent. So perhaps if you use a cover with a hole in the middle of it--maybe take a knob off of a lid or something like that, it will allow the water to escape and not condense back on your rolls.


--Pamela

maurdel's picture
maurdel

okay, that all sounds very helpful:

-domed lid
-plate not too large for pan
-do not leave food in too long (I'm definitely guilty of this)
-leave it to sit/ dry afterwards (never tried this & it sounds good)


and probably the larger pan/wok too. Though some of the cooks I've seen using a plate did not seem to use anything very large and just put the plate on the bottom- but I do think I will try it raised next time.


Thanks baltochef

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Hi baltochef


Here are two ideas to try, both directly from tamale making, where the tamales are often steamed open-ended at the top.


First, try putting a folded tea towel on top of the dumplings. Then put on the lid and steam as usual. Remove the tea towel first thing.


Second, use corn husks, the kind used for tamale making, and make a roof over the dumplings using as many as needed; they will shed the water. Dried corn husks are naturally waterproof.


Hope these help!


Patricia

maurdel's picture
maurdel

woops- I'm not baltochef- Apologies to baltochef, I was trying to send thanks.  I didn't realize that would look like my signature,


Patricia: Thanks  for the tips from tamale making. So the towel is mentioned again. guess I'll have to try it.


I'm going to keep reading and I hope the original poster gets lots of answers and comes back w/ more info from Chinatown too. This is great, maybe dumplings will get on the menu next week to try some of this out.


Signed, maurdel :))

ques2008's picture
ques2008

Hello Patricia, Baltochef, and Maurdel,


I was the original poster for that question.  I have done thorough research on the Internet, and the more I read, the more I get confused.  I will try the towel method (both above and under).  The corn husks are a new idea.  I will be registering for an Asian cuisine class which will run on April 28 and it is to specifically make rolls, dumplings and Vietnamese spring rolls.  I'll be asking the chef that specific question about how to avoid getting those rolls and dumplings wet and wrinkly.


I tried to make rice cakes the other day with my steamer and covered them with aluminum foil.  They were in muffin pans and my rice cakes looked like they were hit by a bomb.  Messy.  Gooey.  I probably bought the wrong steamer.


I will come back with a link that I archived somewhere about using towels above and under.


By the way, when you say corn husks, do you mean the skin of corn?


Thanks all.

ques2008's picture
ques2008

OK' I'm back with that link.  Here it is:  http://kusinanimanang.blogspot.com/search/label/siopao.


You'll need to scroll all the way down.  She provides the detailed procedure and scroll down to # 8.  There you'll see the picture of siopao (asian pork rolls) and the difference in the texture when you use 1 versus 2 towels.  She said the rolls had a smoother texture when she used 2 towels.  Somewhere there too you'll find a picture of a 3-tier steamer.  That's the kind I have.  It has holes inside.


Thinking about it now, maybe I should have bought bamboo.  I read somewhere that bamboo absorbs the water.