My first thought was to use a colander over a pan but then I realised I don't have a colander. For my straining needs I use the inside of this pasta pan (on left).

Large perforated cooking pan

I thought about using that. But the sieve part of the pan sits too low in the pot part to allow enough room for water.

I thought about suspending the sieve part higher with a wooden spoon, but this seems like an accident waiting to happen.

Perforated pan balanced above pan of water

It dawned on me at the time of writing that I have other pans one of which happens to be a good size, so I'll post that as one answer, but I'd be interested in other solutions, especially if no other pans happened to be a good size.

3 Answers 3


You can use a steaming rack like this:

enter image description here

Placed inside the the large pan/pot/wok with water lower than the height of the rack. Then put a heatproof plate or smaller pan (with or without sieve holes) on the steaming rack. Lid the pot/wok and steam way.

If you don't have a steaming rack, you can use aluminum foil. Make three small to medium sized balls and squish them slightly flat so that don't roll. put them in your pot in a triangle and add water. Rest your plat/pan of food/veggies for steaming on top.
enter image description here


It dawned on me as I was writing the question that I have other pans, one of which is a good size; I'll use that.

enter image description here

  • But the steam will get out and fill your kitchen...
    – RedSonja
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 10:20
  • An open pot on a rolling boil doesn't fill my kitchen with steam.. Why would this? Even if it was producing a lot of condensing steam, most kitchens have an extractor fan.. Or a window Commented May 21, 2015 at 10:23
  • This still looks like it is waiting to fall over.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 20:39
  • @Willeke, it may not be obvious from the photograph, but the bottom of the sieve part is sitting snug about an inch into the pan. With the weight (food) at the bottom, toppling is unlikely to be a problem. Indeed I've used this method many times since I posted this question without incident. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 10:52

In your place I would still use both parts of your pasta pan with the sieve part, but not sitting as deep as it wants to if you use it as designed.

Put something in the bottom of the pan, slightly higher than the level of the water you want in it. I am thinking about a ring you might have in the house or a small can, opened on both sides.
Old cups or saucers can work as well, I would not use the good service as they might get broken or dirty with scales on them.

The deeper in the pan, the less risk of it going over.

An other option is a pan with a fitting lid, a bowl in the bottom of the pan, water around it, a plate which does not fit tight on top of the bowl and the things to be steamed on the plate, put the lid on the pan so the steam is contained.

Or combine them, use your set as it is designed but with an extra layer of bowl and plate, in which the bowl keeps the plate out of the water.

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