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Jan 23, 2008 05:18 AM

Steaming Dim Sum in Bamboo Steamers [Moved from Ontario board]

As this would be my first time using them - how to steam?

I understand bamboo steamers will sit on an open pot - how much water to use?

Steamers placed on pot before boiling starts or after - How long to steam basic pork and shrimp dim sum?


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  1. You do not need a lot of water to steam as long as it does not boil dry. Do not put the food over the water until the water is boiling.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sweetie

      how long should I steam them for - thank you for your reply

    2. The amount of water you use depends naturally on the pan/wok size, but it can come over the side of the steamer, just not so much it touches the interior bamboo where the food sits. The longer you steam, the more water is needed.

      You can place the steamer on the vessel before or after the water starts to steam. If you are using frozen dim sum, I would suggest you place the steamer on before the water boils, with your food already placed inside. the gentle warm up will aid in defrosting the dumplings.

      Cooking time:

      Fresh........5-7 minutes
      Frozen.......8-12 minutes on most......depending on size.

      Shrimp takes less time than pork in general. Ground meat items take a couple of minutes more........and do not forget to line the steamer with lettuce or cabbage leaves so your dim sum won't stick.

      3 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        and if you don't have lettuce or cabbage leaves, you can always use a sheet of foil on each tray... just poke holes across each row of slats.

        1. re: Night Owl

          Waxed paper or greased parchment work as well.

        2. Another tip -
          Don't crowd the steamer tray. Leaving a small amount amount of space between items results in faster cooking and they won't stick together.

          1 Reply
          1. For pork/shrimp shu mei/ I use a bamboo steamer that sits in my wok. I keep a teapot full of hot water near by. I lightly oil the tray, then place lettuce that I quickly wilt (run it under hot water) so its more pliable. For shu mei, I am working with raw ingredients, so it usually steam about 18 minutes. I fill the wok half way up to the first basket that is in the wok. I usually have to add more, that;s why the teapot.

            Dumplings are really good done this way, and using lettuce does give it a nice flavor.

            I know that you asked about dumplings but I've got to suggest one of my favorites, Steamed Pork Buns- really really great. Depending on the size, about 15 minutes for the dough to cook since the meat is already done. The best picnic food, or small lunch.

            You will have a great time with your steamer. I throw mine in the dishwasher, after each use, I hand wash first if anything is stuck, but then the dishwasher does a great job. Any smell from the previous meal, will dissipate. Let it air dry thoroughly. I don' t know if there is a rule that you should replace these every so often, I have had mine forever.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chef chicklet

              yes I am looking forward to trying allot of the Dim Sum's - Thank you for your reply

            2. To add to the other suggestions ...

              Don't steam frozen items. Defrost then steam.

              8 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                I always steam frozen items. It seems like the rice wrapped ones would get mushy if you defrosted first.

                1. re: chowser

                  FWIW, in my experience, one generally cooks raw-but-frozen prepared foods specifically from frozen, rather than letting them defrost. What generally happens is you get a slimy mess - either a bit of one or entirely depending on the food.

                  Cooking large things from a frozen state can be problematic in terms of even cooking (like a roast or whole chicken), but even there things like frozen meals/entrees ALWAYS tell you to cook from frozen. I assume the OP isn't working with commercial frozen dumplings, otherwise I'm sure there are instructions on the package...

                  1. re: MikeG

                    I've never steamed commercially prepared dumplings. It's always been homemade ones.

                    In fact, I try to avoid commercially made dumplings at all costs.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      fwiw, trader joe's has good frozen dumplings and shu mai.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          is that a brand name or a store - where is the store located

                          I read a post in here that had a recomendation for a place @ Kennedy and McNicoll 10 for $2-3$ - I will have to check it out

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    good call - I would have just thrown them in