COOKING with claypot keeps food warmer for a longer time and is ideal for one-pot meals, writes ANUSHA K.
CLAYPOTS are an ideal utensil for making one-pot meals and even for roasting meat. In a claypot, poultry or meat is combined with a little liquid, vegetables and seasonings to produce the tenderness of braising with a finish of roasting. Most of the time, the lid is in place and only removed when the food is cooked. Bread baked in a claypot has a crisp crust with a tender, moist interior.
Chef Michael Chew from Zuan Yuan Chinese restaurant in One World Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, says claypots are best for slow-cooked meals.
"Wet clay doesn´t get as hot as metal and the pot helps keep the braise at a low simmer, which makes the texture of the food more luscious. Heavy clay retains heat well, so you will have to turn the heat down to allow the food to cooking as slowly as you like," he adds.
As clay is porous, one should avoid using soap when cleaning claypots. With repeated use, a claypot becomes more seasoned and it is claimed that food cooked in a well-seasoned claypot tastes better than that cooked in a newer pot.
If you´re using a claypot to cook rice for the first time, oil the inside of the pot. This will prevent the cooked rice from sticking to the claypot.
In conjunction with this month´s spring festival in China, Chew offers tempting claypot dishes. The climate in China at the start of spring can be slightly chilly, so using claypots will keep dishes warm longer for diners.
A must-have dish is traditional braised lamb in claypot. The piece of lamb is marinated with spices such as star anise and cardamom. Then it is cut into pieces and allowed to simmer in the claypot with soya bean sauce till the meat is tender. It goes exceptionally well with preserved beancurd sauce on the side.
Braised chicken with dried chilli and salted fish is perfect with a bowl of white rice. The bite-sized chicken is sauteed with dried chilli and salted fish in a wok before it is transferred to a claypot. Chicken broth is added and the dish allowed to simmer. No salt is required because of the pungent but delicious salted fish.
If you´re feeling under the weather, poached grass prawn with Chinese wine is a must-try. The sweet orange-tinged prawns are simmered with Chinese wine, wolfberry and chopped ginger. The aromatic ginger gives flavour to the sweet, and rather calming warm broth.
Other claypot dishes are braised beef brisket with radish and braised crab with black pepper and glass vermicelli.
The dishes for the month-long promotion, priced from RM26 per portion, are available for lunch and dinner.
ZUAN YUAN CHINESE RESTAURANT
One World Hotel
First Avenue, Bandar Utama
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 03-7681 1159
By Anusha K., New Straits Times
, 09 Mar 2011