How to Cook Fish in a Bamboo Steamer

by Carol Luther

A group of bamboo steamers, one with the lid a little bit open.

Surachamp/iStock/Getty Images

Cooking fish in a bamboo steamer lets you infuse whole fish and fillets with flavor without adding oil. The type of fish that you choose will determine how long it takes to finish the job, but it is not difficult to cook fish in a steamer. Since you are using moist heat, it is also unlikely that your fish will be overcooked and dried out beyond recognition. You can include herbs, wine and the seasonings of your choice to create signature fish dishes.

Put the wok on the stove burner on top of the cooking ring that keeps it level.

Pour 1 to 2 inches of water into the wok. Depending on the recipe that you are using, you may replace half of the water with wine, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

Place the bamboo steamer in the wok and check that the water does not reach the bottom rack of the lowest steamer basket.

Line the bamboo basket racks with Napa cabbage leaves, parchment paper or green leaf lettuce to keep them from absorbing the smell of fish and your seasonings. Put the seasoned fish on top of the liner.

Turn the burner on medium and let the water in the wok come to a boil.

Put the top on the highest steamer basket if you are using a steamer with multiple racks and place in the wok. Reduce the heat to simmer.

Steam one-inch thick fillets for 5 to 8 minutes. A whole fish will take 20 to 30 minutes, depending on its weight.


  • You can put fish on small plates or saucers on the racks or wrap them in parchment paper before placing them inside the steamer. Put your bamboo steamer on top of a small saucepan if you do not have a wok. Be sure it is stable and balanced.

Photo Credits

  • Surachamp/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Carol Luther has more than 25 years of business, technology, and freelance writing experience. She has held leadership roles in higher education management, international development, adult education, vocational education, and small business support programs