In countries all over Asia, clay pots have been used for centuries to cook up delicious traditional dishes. Clay pots are often beautiful pieces of art, hand-crafted by expert potters, so above and beyond utility, they make unique decorative additions to your kitchen cabinets tables. The main reason, however, to add traditional Asian clay pots and bowls to your cooking supplies, are the tasty, healthy foods you can prepare by using them!
How do clay pots work?
Have you ever ordered a meat dish at an Asian restaurant that comes served to you in a clay bowl or pot? Perhaps you noticed how deliciously juicy that meat was – as it turns out, the bowl it was served in was not just for presentation! The great bit about traditional Asian clay pots and bowls is that they are unglazed, meaning that when you soak them in water before beginning dinner, they can absorb enough water to later release steam back into the food during the cooking process. The effect is fantastically juicy, succulent meats.
Clay pots also make for crispier food, too. The Vietnamese use clay pots to cook up spicy fish, the Chinese use clay pots to braise beef, and the Koreans stew up vegetables and red bean to make dol sot bibimpab – what do these dishes all have in common? Not only does the Asian clay pot make the contents nice and tender, but the pot also makes the rice at the bottom cook up incredibly crispy and delicious. So, cooking with a clay pot gives your dinner the best of both worlds – incredibly tender meats with crispy and delectable rice.
Should I soak my clay pot?
You heard right – unlike those stainless steel pots and pans we simply throw on the burner, you must prepare your clay pot just as you prepare the food ingredients. Cooking with an Asian clay pot is a truly holistic process – the tools you use to prepare your meal are as important as the ingredients that go into it. Ideally, you can submerge and then allow your clay pot and lid to soak in the sink 10-15 minutes before beginning cooking.
My clay pot is saturated with with water, can I place it over heat now?
Asian clay pots are safe for electric or gas burners, but they are also quite susceptible to sudden changes in temperature. Therefore, make sure to avoid initially overheating your pot – start at low heat and then gradually increase the intensity over time. This makes clay pots ideal for making stews – long before there were Crockpots, Asian chefs were already using clay pots to create the ideal slow-cooked stew. Cooking with Asian clay pots is healthier, too: when you cook food slowly, over moderate heat, you bring out the flavors without any need for extra fat.
How do I clean my clay pot?
Remember, what makes the Asian clay pot so effective is its ability to soak up its contents, so don’t use detergent to clean the bowl. Instead, after you’ve waited for your clay pot to cool, soak it with water and then clean with a brush. If necessary, use some baking soda to scour and degrease. Remember also that sudden temperature changes will crack your clay pot, so definitely do not machine wash it!
You can get your own clay pot on-line: