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.
Bamboo steamers are commonly used for smaller amounts of food and can be placed over wider steel pots with steaming water or they work well over non-stick surfaced, electric woks to steam foods while the wok cooks other ingredients. They are not made to be placed in an oven or a microwave. Bamboo steamers enable the steam to evaporate and circulate easily so it does not accumulate on the lid of the steamer. This type of steamer is generally best for steaming dumplings, buns, breads, or the traditional Chinese dish known as dim sum. 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.