For example, chicken.

I have tried:

  • chicken directly in steamer: chicken gunk goes everywhere, including between the woven bamboo slats.

  • chicken in a colander in the basket: gunk still goes everywhere.

  • chicken on a dinner plate in the basket: gunk controlled but chicken gets cooked in a bath of accumulated chicken juices and condensed steam.

  • chicken on an upside down plate: gunk gets everywhere.

  • wrapped in banana leaves: good but don't have easy access to banana leaves and is this really steaming if they're wrapped up? Even on plates I feel I'm missing the rising steam and relying on the overall humidity in the basket.

  • sitting on banana leaves: again banana leaves are hard to come by, gunk problem still a bit of an issue.

  • using a new steamer basket each time: they're cheap but it's a bit wasteful...

Is there a solution here?

  • 1
    If the baskets are really cheap, just put them through the dishwasher. Yes, I know that you shouldn't put wood through the DW, but I put my cheapest wood through it with the plan to replace it when it gets unusable. It warps a bit and gets ugly, but for now, it hasn't stopped fulfilling its functions.
    – rumtscho
    May 11, 2012 at 15:48

4 Answers 4


My mom uses pieces of lettuce, cabbage, spinach or some other large, leafy green as a bottom for her steaming uses. I can't explain why this works, but for dumplings and Shanghai-style dumplings, this prevents the pool-of-water below as you describe. Perhaps it has something to do with the varied height with the leaves...offering the water pools a place to collect without staying in contact with the food.

This may or may not catch the chicken gunk you're referring to, but I think it's worth a shot.

  • 1
    paksoi works fine too
    – jwenting
    Feb 14, 2013 at 7:04
  1. Place a pie tin or deep dish in the bottom of the steamer - this will catch the drips and reduce any clean up of the bamboo steamer.
  2. Arrange 3-4 bamboo chopsticks in a diamond or cross hatch shape (#) over the dish
  3. Place meat/fish on the chopsticks. Add more chopsticks for added support as necessary.

Raising the meat will increase exposure to the steam, improving cooking: keeps the meat out of the accumulating juices or condensation thereby avoid "boiling": and the dish will catch the drips.

  • 1
    So... the solution is to build a second makeshift steamer within the steamer?
    – rumtscho
    Jan 14, 2013 at 13:22

Just imagine what Chinese restaurant bamboo steamers actually look like... anyway here are some options:

  • wrap pieces in baking or prachment paper that has been perforated

  • change recipe to have a steamer-friendly coating such as rice flour (turns to noodle consistency)

  • steam less vigorously; still some mess but less so, gunk drips below but not splattering everywhere.


Wow, I've used my new steamer about six or seven times now, and have encountered NO 'gunk' from the chicken. The best method I've found is to line the bottom of the rack with Chinese cabbage before laying down the flavor base. I've also had good results with putting the veggies UNDER the rack with the chicken after the chicken has steamed for about ten to twelve minutes and that way the good juices drip onto the veggies, giving them more flavor. We love the new steamer and hope to find several more recipes for it.

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