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Cooking With Clay
Cooking Tools

Cooking With Clay

Clay cookware is all the latest rage these days, and for good reason.  People are becoming less inclined to use non-stick cookware because of potential toxins that can leach into your food.  Clay pots don’t have any of these chemicals or toxins, but there is going to be a learning curve when you first start out with clay pots.  Don’t worry you will adapt easily enough.  Here’s a rundown of clay pots, using them and why you might want to switch.

Seasoning clay pots

Before you use your pots you’re going to have to season them, there are plenty of articles that will tell you how to do just that.  Most will advocate for soaking but spending 2 hours with the pots soaking in water is not exactly a good time.  You do need to season though, it will strengthen your pots, the good thing is you only have to do it once.  Here is a video showing you how to do that.

Rinse the pot and lid thoroughly for a few minute, then let them sit for about 10 minutes.  While they are sitting put together a mixture of 3 tablespoons of flour, it really doesn’t matter what kind, into 1 cup of water.  Fill your pot about ¼ of the way with water and add the flour mixture to it. Put in on the stove on very low heat and after about 6 minutes increase the heat to medium.  Pop on the lid and when the mixture cooks to bubbling, turn off the heat and let it cool overnight.  When you get up rinse out the pot and lid and now you’re ready to cook.

Stovetop Cooking

Cooking on a stove with clay is going to be a little different, if this is your first time using the pots try them with “wet” recipes first; stews, soups and the like.  This will help with the seasoning process.  Always start on low heat and gradually increase the temperature after a couple of minutes.

Cooking in the Oven

Using normal bake ware you normally preheat the oven, with clay you should not.  Drastic changes in temperature can make cracks or break your pots.  Put the pots in the oven and pre heat slowly starting at around 200 degrees.  Don’t use clay on temperatures over 450 degrees.  They are not ideal for broiling in the oven.

Bear in mind clay pots are going to be a different experience than what you are probably used to but you will make some extraordinary tasty dishes using them, so cooking with clay pots are well worth the effort.

Basics of Chinese Cooking
International Cooking

Basics of Chinese Cooking

Chinese cooking is often simple, even for beginners, providing you hold to a few firm rules. The first thing to remember is that preparation and cooking are separate procedures; all the preliminaries, which in some instances are lengthy and exacting, must be completed before actual cooking begins.

Basics of Chinese Cooking

The second rule is that while the cooking is simple, it cannot wait while some ingredient is made ready for the pot. Chinese foods must often be cooked quickly and at very high temperatures. Since cooking times are so short, it is unwise to take your eye off the pot very long, for you must reduce the heat at the first sign of smoking, and you must be careful not to overcook. Each minute can be crucial in the preservation of the crispness that is characteristic of good Chinese cooking, so it is essential to stick to the cooking time stated in the recipe.

If these two rules of advance preparation and precisely timed hot cooking are observed, you are well on your way to culinary triumphs, Chinese style. Although some of the ingredients may seem unfamiliar, you will soon be glad to make their acquaintance; if certain ones are unavailable, any number of Western foods can occasionally be used in their place without significant loss to taste or flavor. You do not have to adhere too faithfully to all the Chinese customs, for while Chinese cooking has an ancient tradition behind it, part of that tradition is exemplified by experimenting. The adaptation of recipes, ingredients and utensils to local demands is the Chinese way.

Differences From Western Cuisine

For Westerners, some of the delight of Chinese cooking is the insight it offers into a style of living different from ours. Over the millennia, the Chinese have developed a cuisine that in basic foodstuffs, preparation and techniques offers refreshing variations to those that are standard elsewhere. For example the Chinese use oil in their cooking, usually vegetable oil, to a far greater extent than most Westerners do. With this oil, one can get the high temperatures needed to seal in the flavor and original color of the foods and also to preserve the all-important crispness and vitamins of vegetables.

Sizzling hot oil is the marrying agent, as it brings out the best qualities of each food to produce a new appearance and happy combination of flavors after the cooking is completed. Cooking oil is all the more important since the Chinese seldom if ever use butter. They do not use many other dairy products either. In the past, cow’s milk and its derivatives butter, cream and cheese were not a part of their diet at all, but today ice-cream has become a favorite snack in many parts of the country. There have been other breakthroughs as well as cream, for instance, is used in the rich sweet called Peking dust.

In spite of the great variety of dishes we find on any Chinese menu such as fish, vegetable mixtures, meat, fowl and soups you may have noticed that there are few sweet ones. This is because the Chinese do not go in much for confections and pastries, though children sometimes suck rock sugar. They prefer dishes with stimulating tastes; what English people call savouries, such as dumplings and spring rolls.