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May 7, 2009 05:57 PM

Cambodian / Laotian Bamboo rice steamer?

A friend recently traveled to Cambodia and Laos and brought back this piece of bamboo cookware for me. She described it as a rice cooker that the local people she worked with would use to cook their lunches. It has a top that is attached with string, and a basket set over a rim. The whole thing is about 6 inches tall. The basket in the top half is about 3 inches deep and about 4 inches across.

I really want to use it, but I don't know how! Any Chowhounds have advice for me?

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  1. I haven't seen one like that. I have seen, in person and online, a Thai rice steamer. That's a conical basket that fits, double boiler style, in an aluminum urn shaped pot (or presumably anything else of the same diameter). I believe the Thai version is used mainly for sticky rice, both white and black. Instructions for using that style should be easy to find.

    6 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Yes, I've found a lot of stuff on the Thai rice steamer, but I'm not sure how it would translate to this one, as it didn't have a pot that came with it.

      1. re: midcity

        It looks like these to me, which are described as sticky rice servers:

        They also have them at this site that I love, and explain a bit about the steamer and vessel that paulj described:
        (See the last paragraph, with all the links, at that page, and click the serving basket link to see their version.) That site's in Oregon. Frankly, if it were me, I'd call them up and ask how to use the serving basket and whether it can double as a steamer. They also have a good description of sticky rice preparation at a link on that page.

        But upon further perusal, I see these things described as steamers, which look a lot like yours with the lid off. You could just experiment. :

        1. re: Cinnamon

          That is a rice cooker but it is used strictly for sticky (glutinous) rice. Soak the rice in plain water for about 24 hours. Drain it and put it into the container and then put it over a pot of boiling water and steam it until you get the doneness that you want. It will take a while. Sticky rice does not cook nearly as fast as plain old rice.

          1. re: ThaiNut

            It is possible to speed up the sticky rice cooking in a pressure cooker. That speedup is most useful when cooking the black unpolished rice.

          2. re: Cinnamon

            It appears that this last one has a narrow enough base to fit into a pot (double boiler fashion). There appear to be holes in the bottom basketwork that will allow steam to enter the steamer, while the rest is tight enough to slow its escape.

            The baskets that the OP owns would work the same if they have these features. If on the other hand, the bottom is a tight as the sides, they will work only as serving containers.

        2. re: paulj

          That's actually a Lao rice container called "Tip Khao", which is used for sticky rice that's already been cooked. You will find those Lao rice containers in Thailand because there's over 20 million ethnic Laotians living in Thailand. Sticky rice ("Khao Niew") is a traditional Lao staple food that's eaten by the Lao of Laos as well as the Lao ethnics in Thailand.

        3. Hi everyone,

          Thank you for all the advice and feedback! The bottom of the container is pretty tight, so after reading the postings on here I agree that it is probably just a food container and not a steamer--a little disappointing, as the idea of steaming was somehow really appealing to me. Oh, well!

          1. Yes, that is for keeping already cooked sticky rice. The actual basket steamers look a little like large inverted conquistador helmets.