Traditional Wok/ Bamboo Steamers
For many years, my parents would use a wok with a large lid and steam all the cantonese dishes that required it. They didn’t use these massive bamboo steamers you often see in traditional dim sum parlours in Hong Kong.
In the restaurant kitchen, the lid used would often be dented on the edges and as such they would drape wet towels over them to stop the heat from escaping. I suppose they could have purchased these large bamboo steamers but they didn’t see it a problem and the outcome of the dishes were still perfect.
Having moved out of the commercial kitchen and cooking at home, I started with the traditional wok like my parents. Then the steam cookers arrived onto the market. Oval shaped in design and stackable trays for 3-4 different types of foods.
A purchase was quickly made for these modern table-top steamers. They met the needs of my steaming requirements; to steam traditional dishes and to be with the times. At the time this appliance was quickly used to steam the dishes my parents created and but soon became useless for several reasons:
- For example, steaming fish with ginger and spring onion in the restricted size trays was fiddly.
- The reservoir would often be dried up and required frequent top up to ensure the heating element wouldn’t burn.
- It was a messy affair wiping the condensation and putting away the various parts.
We then bought a house to renovate and redesigned it to our own specification. The kitchen was left in my hands to design (with a little help from a kitchen designer). The opportunity to explore the latest gadgets to pimp out my kitchen was exciting.
The steam oven had crossed my mind for some time as it was the next generation like the rear projector TVs (ones with a large back) to the new smart TVs. However, if you were thinking of upgrading your kitchen, I would recommend it. The only concern for me was the cost of the steam oven costing £1000+ which was enough to make you cough blood.
The saying ‘one persons junk is another persons treasure’ is applicable in this case. I opted to look for a used steam oven for several reasons:
- Steam ovens would often be fitted in newly renovated flats/houses in London for prospective buyers. It wouldn’t be long before the new owners realised they didn’t use it often enough.
- The owners of the steam oven wanted to upgrade and sell their old model.
The steam oven I bought was from MIELE however, there are many brands that now manufacture very good steam ovens including NEFF, FISHER & PAYKEL and SIEMENS.
The Miele was 60cm x 45cm compact to accommodate a plate warmer underneath but you can get a 60cm x 60cm. I steam 2 dishes at a time which is perfect for a family of four.
On the market, you can now get convection/steam, or microwave/steam option ovens. I chose to keep it separate simply because I have a dedicated steamer and a dedicated convection oven. Perhaps in the future I will look to review the combinations options……and when I have a big enough penny collection.
The water tank is large enough to steam for up to 1.5 hrs depending on what you are cooking which is great. This means I don’t have to disrupt the temperature and steam loss. You do have to occasionally descale and the oven will remind you when your time is up. This does depend on how often you use it and how hard your water is in the area.
The controls took a while to get used to but once mastered, its a doddle. You have the option of having a timer and various temperature settings for different dishes. To be honest, I tend to stick with 100 degrees with most of my dishes.
I’m not going to lie, it will get messy. It’s a steam oven. During cooking you will have condensation build up on the roof of the oven which will drip into or whilst removing your dish but not a lot. It certainly won’t ruin your dish.
Cleaning is the messy part once you have finished using it. I just get hold of a dry tea towel, mop up the water and throw into the washing machine for the next wash. I have also used those super absorbent clothes that act like a sponge which is just as good.
I absolutely love my purchase and it fits my needs. If you are like me and cook lots of steamed dishes, then this is a must. You have a dedicated area for steaming whilst getting the space back on your kitchen hob. Cleaning up the oven is a small minor inconvenience but it is outweighed by so many positives of steam cooking dishes. It has enabled me to cook those dishes that my parents made as I was growing up.