Clay Pot Cooking is a traditional and old way of cooking food in an unglazed clay pot which has been soaked in water to release steam while cooking. Clay pot has a long history, dating back to ancient times and has been used in several cuisines in Europe and most parts of Asia.
Here in Manila, clay pot is called "Palayok" which are still one of the commonly used cooking tools until today. It is a great way to cook and foods are much more enjoyable when cooked in clay pot.
How does clay pot provides a different taste in cooking? Since clay pot is a porous material, it is usually submerged or saturated with water for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. This is to absorb water before cooking. You may then fill the pot with food and put it into oven.
You may notice that the walls of the pot helps diffuse heat and it releases water as steams. A slow evaporation of steam arises within the clay itself, thus eliminating the food's moisture. This process creates a flavorful, tender and delicious dish unlike other common metal pots.
The evaporation of water prevents burning so long as the pot is not allowed to heat until its completely dry. During this process, the food forms its own juices which cannot escape till the pot dried out. When it comes to a complete dry, the food is cooked and ready to serve.
There is no oil needed when cooking in a clay pot. The food contains lesser fats and lower in cholesterol, which are basically good if you are a health buff individual. Also, essential nutrients are maintained within the food because it doesn't leaked out through the water unlike boiling in metal pots. So basically, clay pots offers much more health advantage than today's cooking tools.
However, clay pots requires longer cooking time but lower oven temperature than modern cooking pots, casserole or pans due to the lost of heat to the evaporating water. The constant use of clay pot will create a dark and mottled appearance on its body, taking out its glazy look.
Scrubbing is the best recourse in cleaning a clay pot. Blemishes and dark stains will be much harder to clean and most probably will become permanent. But over all, clay pots are easy to clean because foods won't stick to the surface. Using salt is the best way to clean clay pots and usual detergents and soaps must be avoided because it will be absorbed by the clay.
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