Next to stir-frying, steaming is an important and widely used cooking technique in the Asian kitchen. Most kitchens in Asia do not have ovens, therefore baking or roasting are not commonly used cooking techniques. Instead, dumplings, breads, cakes, and other desserts are steamed. There are also wonderful soups and meat dishes, and of course, superb fish and seafood specialties that are cooked to perfection in the gentle, moist heat of a steamer. Steaming is also a perfect way to refresh stale bread and reheat leftovers that would otherwise dry out or overcook on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave. Steaming has gained popularity in the Western kitchen for its convenience, simplicity, health benefits and energy savings. Steaming envelopes the food in a hot, moist environment so it won’t dry out. And unlike boiling, natural juices, minerals and vitamins as well as color in foods are retained and not drained out in the sink. Steaming is also a very low fat way to cook because you need very little or no oils. Although you can’t burn food in a steamer, you can over -cook it so timing is important. Food should not be placed directly in the bamboo steamer without a plate (if the food is marinated, such as fish and meat) or parchment liner (if food is dry, such as buns and dumplings) and allow at least 1- inch space between the sides of the plate and the sides of the steamer. And be sure there’s adequate head space under the lid so that the steam can freely circulate around the food. The traditional Chinese steamer is made of natural bamboo, a sustainable grass that is strong, grows quickly and is plentiful. Bamboo steamers can range in size from a tiny 4-inch diameter for dim sum to large commercial-sized steamers that can steam several platters of whole fish at once. At Helen’s Asian Kitchen, we have beautiful handmade bamboo steamers for home use in four practical sizes: 4”, 6”, 10” and 12” diameters. These steamers are strong, durable and constructed completely of natural bamboo with bamboo pegs and bamboo lacing for strength, durability and beauty. There are no metal staples, wires or plastic which can rust or loosen with use. The beauty of bamboo steamers extends from their aesthetics to their practicality. The bamboo lid is double woven so that steam is trapped inside the steamer to cook quickly and efficiently with little heat loss. The lid also absorbs any condensation from steaming so water droplets won’t fall on the food you are steaming. We have all experienced heavy condensation on the inside of cookware lids that drip water onto food when the lid is lifted. Controlling condensation is especially important when steaming breads, dumplings and cakes which can be ruined from excess moisture. The steamer is so attractive; it can be brought right to the table for serving. It will also help to keep foods hot during the meal. Helen Chen is a leading Asian culinary expert, cookbook author, cooking instructor and developer of Helen's Asian Kitchen cookware and cooking accessories. Helen's focus is making Asian cooking quick and easy, healthy, and more accessible to the home cook. Here recipes are updated to incorporate heart-healthy oils and readily available supermarket ingredients while still maintaining the authentic flavors and variety of traditional Asian cuisine. Her inspiration for new recipes and products comes from her frequent trips to Asia for business and family visits.