Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Bamboo Steamer Makes A Mean One-Pot Dinner

Chicken and veggies cooked in one of the most healthful ways possible. Use this recipe as a starting point and then let your culinary imagination run wild!

bamboo steamer with chicken and vegetables

Photo: Eoban Binder/WFIU

Add whatever veggies you like to the bamboo steamer. I tossed in some broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and sweet potatoes.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Recipes are not hard-and-fast regulations for cooking. The home cook should feel comfortable changing ingredients to suit his/her palate.

This recipe is a perfect example of that! I’ll give you the general idea, you decide the details.

The one must-have for this dish is a bamboo steamer. Don’t have one? Save this page and go buy one right now! You can cook everything from dumplings to vegetables without fats or oils. It’s one of those kitchen gadgets you’ll want to use all the time.

Thanks to The Kitchn for this tutorial on bamboo steamers:

  1. Before filling the basket with your ingredients, line it with some sort of leaf — cabbage, grape, lettuce, whatever you like!
  2. Add a couple inches of water to a wok or pan and bring to a simmer. Fit the bamboo steamer in or on top of the wok/pan, but make sure the fit is snug so it won’t topple over.
  3. The steam will rise through the perforations in the bamboo steamer cooking the food. Add more water to the wok/pan as necessary. (Want some additional flavor? Use stock instead of water.)

Now for the fun part — what to cook!

A couple local chicken breasts would taste delicious cooked in the steamer. Since we’re not sautéing them in oil or butter, we need to find another way to infuse flavor. Here’s a trick:

  • Cut slits down the chicken breasts creating little pockets.
  • Tuck some fresh herbs into the slits. I’m including basil, thyme, parsley and scallions, but use whatever you like best!
  • Rub teaspoon of garlic on each chicken breast before placing them in the steamer.

This not only adds flavor to even the thickest part of the bird, it encourages the chicken to cook more quickly.

I’m adding the veggies I have on hand, including cauliflower, broccoli, yams, red and yellow peppers. In order to make sure the food cooks evenly, I’ve thinly chopped the veggies. Everything is going into the bamboo steamer raw except the yams — those were par-cooked.

The Reveal

After 10 minutes of steaming, the food is ready to go! (If you’re unsure about the chicken, cut into a thick part to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.) Don’t forget to season the veggies with some salt and pepper.

I like serving this dish with a variety of sauces so folks can personalize their dinner. My Asian sauce is a good pair — it’s a combination of plum sauce, sesame oil and chile paste.

This is a great weekday dinner for the healthiest family in town!

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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