This quick how-to guide will explain how to use a clay pot to make an array of Thai, Chinese, and other Asian dishes. 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. And when you're done, the pot can go straight into the refrigerator until you're ready for leftovers (saves dish-washing). So why not impress your guests by cooking up a Thai curry (or other dish) in a clay pot?
First of all you need a good 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 (like the one shown in the picture) at Asian/Chinese stores or markets - they'll be much cheaper here 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 to 1/2 inch - for the ingredients to bubble.
- If this is the first you're 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 curry (or other 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 pot is bubbling.
- When your curry (or other 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. You will need a potholder, or it will burn the wood/surface. Remove lid and voila - a perfect clay pot dish!!
- The best dishes to make in a clay pot are those with a sauce, like curry, soup, hot pot, or other "runny" dishes. The "sauce" needs to be quite liquid, otherwise your dish may burn.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated in the clay pot - just put the lid back on.
- 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 I would never put mine in a microwave.
- Note that clay pot cooking is done at lower temperatures than regular cooking - this is because the clay holds heat so well. A great way to save energy!