Bamboo steamers are a healthy way to cook food without losing flavor, shape, color and nutrients. The steaming baskets are designed to allow moist water vapor to evaporate and circulate throughout the food. You can steam a variety of foods in a bamboo steamer, including rice. White rice is a refined, starchy grain that gives you 53.18 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Harvard Health Publications notes that the glycemic index for white rice is 89 compared to 53 for brown rice. This means that white rice raises your blood sugar levels faster. Brown rice, however, takes longer to cook and is not suitable for a bamboo steamer, so eat white rice in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Wash the rice by rinsing it in water. This removes some of the starch so that your rice will be less sticky after cooking. Soak the rice in cold water for several hours or overnight to help it to steam-cook faster.
Drain the rice after the soaking period. Line the bamboo basket with a damp, steaming cloth or use large vegetable leaves such as leeks, cabbage or bok choy. This helps hold in the moisture and keeps the rice in the bamboo container. You can also spray the sides of the basket with vegetable spray to keep the rice from sticking to the basket.
Place the presoaked rice into the lined bamboo basket and spread it out to make a thin layer. Cover the rice with additional vegetables leaves, if you are using them. Place the lid on the basket. If you are using a damp cloth, you can place the excess cloth on top of the lid to help trap in hot steam.
Fill a wok or stainless steel pot with about 2 inches of water. Place the pot onto a stove and heat the water to bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly so that the water is still boiling.
Place the bamboo steamer into the pot so that the layer of rice sits above the water line. You may have to use two baskets stacked on top of each other to keep the rice out of the water.
Steam the rice for about 30 minutes. Add water to the pot as it evaporates and check the rice periodically to make sure it doesn't dry out, but replace the lid onto the bamboo steamer as quickly as possible. Remove the bamboo steamer from the pot. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Infuse natural flavor into your rice by steaming it with vegetable or meat broth instead of plain water. Lining the baskets with leaves such as banana leaves, grape leaves or corn husks also adds subtle flavor. Additionally, stack your bamboo steamer with baskets of vegetables or dim sum as you cook the rice. This will help save time and infuse your rice with vegetable flavors by steaming corn, carrots, beans, asparagus, peas and other vegetables in a separate basket below your rice.
Avoid steam burns by using a pot-holder to remove the lid. Keep your face and hands away from the hot steam from the pot and the bamboo steamer.
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.