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Bamboo steamer


Bamboo steamer is a type of vessel used for steaming in East Asian cuisine.

Bamboo steamers are round steamers made from bamboo like those used in Chinese cuisine. They can be stacked on top of each other so that the steam can cook many different servings simultaneously.

Seiro are large rectangular steamers made traditionally from bamboo but nowadays also often from metal. Bamboo steamers can also be stacked.

Cultural notes

Archaeological findings show that steaming is one of the oldest cooking methods in China; pottery cooking pots with colander-like inserts have been found from as far back as 5,000 years ago. Steamers were used for grains like rice and millet and later for meat and fish as well.

Not only is bamboo naturally anti-bacterial, it helps capture the moisture from the steaming process, so that water droplets from condensation do not dampen the delicate food. Proponents also argue that the special scent from the bamboo steamers improves the flavour of what is cooked inside.

Suggested activities

Dramatic Play:

  • Include Bamboo steamers in your home corner – along with a range of Chinese foods and utensils
  • Include wooden or plastic food items with the steamers, along with chopsticks. Encourage children to practice picking up food with chopsticks

Books/ Storytime: 

Community Engagement: 

  • Invite a parent to share their cultural heritage with the children, showing children how to cook with a bamboo steamer and sharing food with the children

Group/ Circle Time:

  • Discussion: how do different cultures eat their food?

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.