A double boiler from my family home in Penang

I inherited this boiler from my family in Penang. I can’t actually remember whether I brought it over or my mum brought it over for me; anyhow, it has been in my kitchen for many years, just like my grandmother’s steamer.

This double boiler was seldom used, unfortunately.  The only thing my family in Penang ever cooked in a double boiler was chicken soup – “tim kay”, which is what we called it.

It is said, chicken soup prepared in this pot, through steaming, is more nutritious than boiling the chicken. I am not too sure about this logic; however, I do find the soup that is cooked in this pot is less oily and more “light” or “clear” than boiling chicken in a pot.

How does the double boiler work?

The double boiler has 2 pots: a larger one at the bottom, and the smaller pot nestles inside and sits on top of the larger pot.  The larger pot sits just nicely, so during steaming it allows the steam to escape while still having enough heat to cook/steam the food in the upper level.

I use this pot for brewing most of my herbal soup and as well as making kaya.

Brewing herbal chicken soup

How to use a double boiler pot?

Basically you want as much of the top layer pot to be inside the bottom pan as much as possible, as this promotes even heat distribution and faster cooking.

Also when you add the water to the bottom pan, make sure the water is a few cm away from the top pan and the top pan does not touch the water when inserted into the bottom layer. The water needs to be kept simmering and not boiling; i.e. the heat is completely transferred by steam, thus keeping the heat more even and gentle.

Do you use a double boiler? What do you use it for? Or do you have another system for steaming food?