How To Steam Fish In A Bamboo Steamer

Are you looking for a solution on how to steam fish in a bamboo steamer? Look no further, as this article has all the answers you need!

Steaming fish in a bamboo steamer is an ancient and simple cooking method that can bring out the best flavors of any fish dish. It’s easy to prepare and incredibly healthy due to the lack of added fats or oils necessary to cook it.

The steam created inside the bamboo trap seals in natural juices and moisture while cooking, resulting in succulent, tender pieces of fish with a unique touch of flavor from the surrounding organic materials.

With just a few simple steps and ingredients, you can create delicious steamed dishes that will make your taste buds dance with delight.

Let’s get started!

What Is Bamboo Steamer?

Bamboo Steamer

Unlike the electric food steamer, a bamboo steamer is a traditional cooking tool used to steam fish, vegetables, and other foods. This type of steamer is very popular in Asia, particularly among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures.

This kitchen essential is usually made from woven sections of split bamboo fitted together with metal fasteners or bands. The top section is wide and shallow, allowing the steam to circulate easily around whatever it’s holding.

The lid fits tightly over the top of the steamer, trapping moisture and flavor as the food cooks. Bamboo steamers are incredibly effective for steaming delicate foods like seafood and vegetables without drying or burning them.

They can also reheat leftovers without further cooking, making this versatile kitchen accessory indispensable.

Related post: Bamboo Steamer Vs. Rice Cooker: Which Is Better For Cooking Rice?

How To Steam Fish In A Bamboo Steamer

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to master steaming fish in a bamboo steamer.

Step 1: Prepare Your Fish 

First, prepare your fish by cleaning it thoroughly. Make sure you remove the fish guts from the abdominal cavity because that is the source of the fishy smell.

Then, pat the fish dry with paper towels. You’ll also want to season the fish with salt and pepper before you put it in the steamer. 

If you’re using a whole fish, cut two deep incisions in the sides to allow the steam to penetrate the flesh. If your dish requires fillets, place them on a plate lined with damp paper towels to prevent them from sticking.

Step 2: Add Water Into The Wok

Once your fish is prepared, you’ll need to add water to the bottom of your bamboo steamer. Be sure not to add too much water, or your food will boil instead of steaming.

Fill the bottom of the steamer until it’s about two-thirds full, then turn on high heat. Place the steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer.

The steam will rise through the slits in the basket and cook your food; however, too much water will seep into your food and ruin the flavor.

Once you have placed the steamer basket on top of the pot, cover it with its lid. 

Step 3: Place Your Fish In The Bamboo Steamer 

Now it’s time to start steaming. Once the water has come up to a boil, place your fish in the top part of the bamboo steamer.

Make sure that it’s evenly distributed so that everything cooks evenly. Cover the top of the steamer with its lid and reduce heat to medium-low or low depending on how much time you need for cooking.

It typically takes about 10 minutes for most seafood and vegetables, but keep an eye on it just in case.

Step 4: Serve & Enjoy! 

Once your food is cooked, remove it from the heat and serve immediately – don’t forget to discard any leftover liquid. You can also add additional seasonings or garnishes if desired. Enjoy your perfectly cooked meal.

How To Choose The Best Bamboo Steamer For Steaming Fish?

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Joyce Chen Bamboo Steamer

When choosing the best bamboo steamer for steaming fish, look for steamers with thick walls and tightly woven wicker on the lid to ensure no water leaks.

Additionally, you want to ensure that the steamer is large enough to hold your desired amount of fish – a round steamer is perfect for larger dishes. In contrast, a smaller square or rectangular steamer is ideal for individual servings.

Finally, ensure that the bamboo steamer you choose is certified food-safe so you can be sure it’s safe to use!

Below are the best bamboo steamers you can buy from Amazon (recommended):


Here are frequently asked questions about steaming fish in a bamboo steamer.

Can You Cook Frozen Fish In A Bamboo Steamer?

No, cooking frozen fish in a bamboo steamer is not recommended. It’s best to thaw the fish first before placing it into the steamer.

How Do I Clean My Bamboo Steamer?

Cleaning your bamboo steamer is easy. The most important step is removing the cooked food from the steamer before it can cool.

Then, fill a sink or bowl with warm water and a few drops of mild detergent. Put the steamer into the water and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

After that, take a clean cloth and scrub off any remaining bits of food. Rinse the steamer with cold water, dry it thoroughly, and let it air dry completely before storing.

Can I Cook Other Foods Besides Fish In A Bamboo Steamer?

Absolutely! Bamboo steamers are great for cooking various dishes, including vegetables, dumplings, dim sum, and even bao buns.

The key is to ensure the food you are steaming fits in the steamer – if it’s too big, it may not cook evenly or take too long.

Why Is My Steamed Fish Tough?

There are several reasons why your steamed fish may be tough. One possible reason is that the fish needed to be cooked longer, and another is that the cooking temperature must be lowered.

Additionally, the type of fish you’re using can affect the texture – certain types of white fish are more delicate and will cook quicker than other fattier varieties.

Over-cooking the fish can cause it to become tough as well. If this happens regularly, reduce your cooking time or temperature slightly.

Do You Steam Fish Skin Up Or Down?

It generally depends on the thickness and type of fish you are steaming. For thin-skinned fish like sole or flounder, it is best to steam the fish skin-side down so it doesn’t dry out too quickly.

However, steam the skin-side up for thicker-skinned fish like trout or salmon to keep it moist while cooking.

What Fish Is Suitable For Steaming?

Many types of fish can be steamed, including cod, sole, flounder, salmon, trout, snapper, halibut, and more.

Generally speaking, any species of flaky white fish is suitable for steaming – but feel free to experiment with whatever type of fish you’d like.


Steaming food in a bamboo steamer is an easy and healthy way to make delicious meals without all the fuss.

With these simple steps, you can master this cooking technique quickly and easily – so get out there and start experimenting today.

If you want more cooking tips, check out more articles here.

Bon appetit!