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Chinese clay poy cookery

Help... I've been wanting to debut my Chinese clay pot that I picked up years ago... Never to see the light of day... Yet!
I make a lot of pho and love all things noodle/dumpling/veggie/seafood/meat- but need some encouragement with this delicate-looking piece of equipment...

Tips? Recipes to share with me?

Many thanks!

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  1. Do a search on 'sand pot' and you'll get a half dozen threads on the topic.

    My use falls into 2 main categories: a Chiniese/Japanese hot pot cooked at the table on a butane hot plate, and meat (mainly pork) braise in a slow oven.

    1. Stews, soups and braises.

      Two of my favorites are fish head stew and lions head meatballs.

      1. What kind of Chinese clay pots are we talking about?


        The one on the left is more for soups and stocks... and the one on the right more for stews and rice and others.

        Making rice with Chinese sausage and vegetables is certainly a very popular and very simple dish:



        Just cook your rice with Chinese sausages, Chinese bacon or Chinese lap duck ...etc. Not much a recipe to speak of really.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          There's yet another design, an herb brew pot, with handle and spout at 90 deg from each other.

        2. Thanks for the info... Regarding the two pictures... Mine is the pot on the right;
          I bought it for pretty cheap at my local asian market... This may seem like a really stupid question, but are they made with a leaded glaze? Someone once mentioned this to me and I never thought of that. The inside of the pot is obviously unglazed; but the outside is, so. ? I guess you never know!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Sofiasmommy

            The lead in pottery warnings have usually applied to craft items that tourists bring back from places like Mexico. I have not read any such warnings for these pots.

            My Chinese sand pots have a dark glaze on the interior, and a light colored unglazed exterior. They also have a wire 'cage'.

            1. re: paulj

              When I worked at Jelly Belly we had to recall some Chinese made mugs, as they turned out to have a leaded glaze. Just because it comes from a factory does not mean it is safe.

            2. re: Sofiasmommy

              I have two pots. One is fully glazed inside and out. The other is mostly glazed inside except the cover. Wire cage is awesome.

            3. If the pot has an unglazed interior, you have to season it first. Soak it in water for a couple of hours and make a thin congee in it. I think the rice starch is meant to "seal the pores" or something like that. Then it is good to go. Use a heat diffuser on the stove.

              I like making hotpot rice with chinese sausage, chicken, and shiitake. http://rasamalaysia.com/claypot-chick...

              13 Replies
              1. re: fmed

                I've soaked all pots with an unglazed exterior. I don't recall if that recommendation comes from the Chinese pot instructions (often poorly translated) or Spanish cazuelas. Supposedly it toughens the pot by restoring some of the moisture lost during firing. That soaking doesn't do anything if fully glazed - I have a Korean bowl like that.

                An initial starch broth wouldn't hurt with any of these pots. Casein from milk may do the same, acting as a glue or sealant.

                Years ago I ate at a hole-in-the-wall place in San Francisco Chinatown that specialized in hot pot stews. Your order, often a noodle soup, came in an individual sized pot. When I last did a web search, it sounded as though the best restaurant like this was in one of the suburbs (Daly City?).

                1. re: paulj

                  "I've soaked all pots with an unglazed exterior. I don't recall if that recommendation comes from the Chinese pot instructions (often poorly translated) or Spanish cazuelas. Supposedly it toughens the pot by restoring some of the moisture lost during firing. That soaking doesn't do anything if fully glazed - I have a Korean bowl like that."
                  Is the soaking a one time thing? What if the pot hasn't been used for a long time?

                  I have a wire cage sand pot similar to yours.

                  1. re: rosetown

                    I doubt if there is a clear answer to the resoak question.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Tnx Paul
                      So when in doubt - soak

                        1. re: paulj

                          It's been soaking for an hour now. :)

                        2. re: rosetown

                          I soak it every time I use it out of habit.

                      1. re: rosetown

                        To me anyway, soaking is a one time thing.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          too late - but good to know
                          Is there a reasoning?

                          1. re: rosetown

                            No reason really, and I don't think it will hurt if you soak it again. It is just that I have never intentionally resoak them, and they have been ok thus far. So, I have no strong opinion one way or the other on resoaking.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Tnx Chem
                              It's been a number of years since I last used the sand pot. What is your longest interval of non-use without troubles. Just curious - and I don't want to re-soak more often than necessary - if it's necessary at all.

                              1. re: rosetown

                                Hmm, I say about 2 years is the longest period between usages.

                      2. re: paulj

                        We soak it every time, preferably all day. Don't know if it's strictly necessary, but it's probably a good idea.

                    2. I use my 2 sandpots, (a larger one and a smaller) for various braised dishes mostly Asian dishes. I often make the SunDuBu Jiggae, a Korean tofu soup that my daughter loves in the smaller one. I did find a great use for the larger sandpot, I use it to make all sorts of No Knead Bread recipes and have had fantastic results. It is sort of like a poor man's baking cloche. I remember picking it up at my local Asian supermarket for $7 many years ago. I figured why risk my expensive and heavy enameled cast iron pot in the super hot oven and I do have the Le Creuset metal knob too.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mchutch

                        What's the size of the one you use for bread?

                        1. re: paulj

                          It's a approximately a 3.5 quart sandpot, about 10.5" in diameter and 5" tall and has a domed lid. I attached a photo of what it looks like. When I make no knead bread, I make enough dough to divide the dough in half (usually 1 lb. to 1.5 lb. loaves). I take the one half of dough and gently knead and shape it into a roundish loaf and place it on a sheet of parchment paper for it's final rise. Meanwhile the sandpot is in the oven preheating to 450 F you can go higher to 500 F but I found that in my oven 450 F works better. The parchment helps make cleanup a breeze. The other half of dough goes back into the fridge in a storage container to bake later in the week. Now that I think of it, I suppose I could try roasting a small chicken in the sandpot as another use for it.

                        2. re: mchutch

                          "I use it to make all sorts of No Knead Bread recipes and have had fantastic results."

                          That is smart. It would be as good as any enameled cast iron Dutch Oven.

                        3. So, a synopsis on soaking - correct me where wrong
                          o - all agree to an initial soaking
                          o - after the initial soak some recommend cooking rice or congee to seal -Fmed, Paulj, ......Rosetown
                          o - some soak every time before use - Fmed, Will47
                          o - some soak occasionally when in doubt - Paulj, Rosetown
                          o - some never soak after the initial soak - Chemicalkinetics
                          None of the posters, after the initial soak has ruined their sandpot. Still, this is way too small a sample to be definitive. :)

                          I believe, when I purchased a donabe that there was a recommendation to cook rice initially to seal.
                          Soaking every time is recommended by Römertopf - a totally unglazed and a different type of clay from a Chinese sandpot.

                          Another question:
                          After soaking do users of Chinese sandpots use it immediately or do you allow it to dry a bit before use?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rosetown

                            I will clarify my position just tiny bit. I think I soaked mine for the first couple of times of use (more than once), and then stopped doing it. To be really accurate, I should say that (1) I soaked them the first time, and (2) rinse them with water the next couple of times -- like under running water for a few seconds, and (3) stopped doing anything special after that.

                            After I soaked it, I wiped the bottom of the pot with hand to remove excessive water, and then I use it immediately (within a few minutes). Being caution I am, I heated up the new pots slowly. In other words, I didn't put them on high heat right away. I used low heat, then middle heat, then high heat. It may very well work if you use high heat right away. I just don't know.

                            1. re: rosetown

                              I just tip the water out...and maybe wipe it out with a cloth. I then use it immediately.