This quick how-to guide will explain how to use a clay pot to make an array of Thai, Chinese, and other Asian dishes, and even some American ones. Clay pot cooking is easy and fast, and also saves electricity. Another advantage of cooking with a clay pot is that it's pretty enough to take from stove to table -- and the food will bubble and stay hot while you're eating. When you're done, the pot can go straight into the refrigerator until you're ready for leftovers (saves you from washing extra dishes).
So why not impress your guests by cooking up a Thai curry (or another Asian dish) in a clay pot? Below, links to clay pot recipes and how to get started.
How to Get Cooking With Your Clay Pot
If you don't already own a clay pot, it's easy enough to buy one. And if you go to the right place, they're also inexpensive. Look for a medium-sized clay pot at an Asian/Chinese store or market -- they'll be much cheaper there than in specialty cooking stores. If it's brand new, clean your clay pot thoroughly and dry it.
Fill the clay pot with your curry or other recipe ingredients. Leave some room at the top -- 1/2 to 1 inch -- for the ingredients to bubble.
If this is the first time using your clay pot: Start with minimum heat for 5 minutes, then gradually increase up to medium-low for at least 15 minutes. You can then turn the heat higher. If the pot has been used before, you can start at a medium-high temperature.
Now turn the heat to medium-high until your recipe begins to bubble. Then reduce heat to medium-low or low -- just enough heat to keep the dish simmering nicely. Cover with the clay pot lid.
Remove lid after 15 to 30 minutes to give ingredients a stir, and also to see how much longer your dish will need to cook.
Most meat dishes will take between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on meat type and thickness. Fish and vegetables will cook in a matter of 5-10 minutes once the pot is bubbling.
When your hot pot dish is done, turn off the heat. Watch the temperature of the handles -- depending on the type of clay pot you own, the handles may be quite hot and require the use of oven gloves.
Make sure lid is on securely. Carefully lift clay pot from stove and place directly on your table. (Make sure to use a trivet or potholder to protect your table from heat.) Remove lid and voila -- a perfect clay pot meal!
Tips and Tricks to Clay Pot Cooking
- The best dishes to make in a clay pot are those with a sauce, like a curry, soup, hot pot, or other liquid-based dishes. The sauce needs to be abundant and liquidy, otherwise, your dish may burn.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated in the clay pot -- just put the lid back on and store in the fridge.
- When heating up leftovers, gradually warm up the clay pot (if it's been in the refrigerator) in the same way you would for a new clay pot -- very gradually, beginning with minimum heat. Otherwise, the clay may crack.
- Clay pots are dishwasher-safe, although it is not recommended to use in the microwave.
- Note that clay pot cooking is done at lower temperatures than regular cooking, as the clay holds heat well. A great way to save energy!
Clay Pot Recipes
- Chinese Red Cooked Beef
- Lion's Head Meatballs Recipe
- Red Cooked Soy Sauce Chicken
- Japanese Cream Stew with Chicken
- Spicy Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubuchigae)