Monday, January 04, 2010

How to Season and Care for a Chinese Clay Pot

I'm a big fan of low-tech kitchen equipment. There's something to be said about how the tried and true methods that have been popular for generations still work well today. And so after using regular pots to make Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Clay Pot-Braised Fish), I wanted a proper to (Vietnamese clay pot). Actually, it's a Chinese clay pot, but Vietnamese cook with it too. :)

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 1

The first step is choosing the right pot. I opted for a 9-inch clay pot since it was roughly the size of my 2-quart cast iron enameled tomato pot that I use quite often. This size can hold several fish filets or a couple of pounds of meat. I purchased mine for $6 at the San Gabriel Superstore, although any Asian grocery store should have it.

It goes without saying that you should select a pot with no visible cracks and as tight-fitting a lid as possible. My clay pot even came with brief instructions on how to care for it so I'll pass it along to you.


Soak the pot and lid in water for about half an hour.

Although these directions will work for unglazed pots as well, I chose a clay pot with a glazed interior so that it'd be easier to clean.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 2

Some come with two handles. I like the sturdiness of one big handle.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 3

The wire cage around the pot helps keep it intact as well as to regulate heat.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 4

So cute! I don't know why it took me so long to buy a clay pot since it was so cheap.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 5

OK, so after soaking for half an hour, make rice in your pot. I made three cups of rice because I wanted to make sure the rice came to the very top level.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 6

Apparently, the rice will fill in any invisible cracks in the clay pot and keep it from leaking.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 7

When washing the pot, I use a light amount of dishwashing liquid and haven't had any problems with the clay absorbing the soap or any other odors. Allow to air dry thoroughly before putting it away. It is clay after all, so you don't want any mildew or mold to develop.

How to Season a Chinese Claypot 8

Other than that, the only maintenance is to make sure there are no sudden changes in temperature. If you take the clay pot out of the fridge, start the heat at a low temperature and gradually increase. Don't shove a hot pot into the freezer. You know the drill.

You don't have to resoak the clay pot each time before cooking since it's already "seasoned," although I moisten it with water before putting it on the stove top just in case. The clay pot can be used on the stove top or oven, and food can be stored in it in the fridge for a few days.

My favorite use for this is to make Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Clay Pot-Braised Fish), but any braised dishes will work well as the heavy clay will help retain heat and moisture.

Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Braised Catfish in a Claypot) 1

Other helpful tips about equipment and ingredients can be found in Peek in My Kitchen.

*****
1 year ago today, Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese 5-Spice "Duck" Soup with Egg Noodles).
2 years ago today, Bo Nuong La Lot (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Wild Betel Leaves).
3 years ago today, Porto's Bakery - Glendale.

5 comments:

  1. Hmm. I might have to try one of these. I'm a sucker for cooking gear. Thanks for the tuturial!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing. Now I want one. My grandma use to use a clay pot to cook rice. I love the crispy rice on the bottom of the pot. I'm not much of a rice eater, so this was her way of making me eat rice. hee hee.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sis,
    You and me! My kitchen is way too full and I can't stop buying more.

    MyKoko,
    The crispy rice is the best part.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Where do you buy the claypot, though? I know I shouldn't have asked this because I have no more room in my kitchen for more pots and pans :(

    ReplyDelete
  5. Co Toan,
    Check 99 Ranch. I'm not sure what other Asian grocery stores are in your area, but any of them should have claypots.

    ReplyDelete

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