A variety of kitchen cookware is commonly used for this process, such as aluminum or stainless steel single layer steamer pots, stacked steamers, bamboo steamers, steamer inserts, and steamer baskets to hold the food and position it above the steaming water. Pots used for steaming are then covered to increase the heat and the amount of steam dispersed around the food.
Single layer steaming pots or pasta pots contain a basket perforated with numerous holes that is inserted into the pot. A one inch depth or so of water is added so the food can be steamed for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the amount of heat used. Stacked metal steamers generally have 2 levels or baskets that allow several different foods to be cooked at the same time, one above the other. Bamboo steamers are commonly used for smaller amounts of food and can be placed over woks to steam foods while the wok cooks other ingredients. Steamer baskets are small solid or collapsible baskets that hold foods to be placed into pots for steaming. Since this type of steamer allows more area for water, longer cooking times can be accomplished with foods being steamed. When steaming foods made with ingredients that may stick to the surface, it is best to lightly coat the bamboo with a cooking oil or vegetable cooking spray. Another option is to place a layer of leaves from vegetable greens, such as bok choy or other similar vegetables, to serve as a means to keep the food off the bottom of the basket and to enhance the flavor of the food. The food requiring the longest cooking time is placed in the bottom layer with those requiring less time placed in the top layer. While there are a variety of steamers, there are also a variety of foods that can be cooked by steaming, such as pasteries, breads, soups, rice, vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish.