Chinese Clay Pot

I traveled to downtown Flushing on Friday to do some pantry shopping (shrimp paste, dried squid, dried shrimp, fresh lemongrass, fresh noodles) and to search for a Chinese style clay pot.  What's a clay pot, at least as it relates to Asian cooking?  It's a traditional method of slow cooking that differs from the western "dutch oven" or casserole dish by being capable of stove top cooking under low heat as well as oven service.  Some argue that even used in the oven it's better than western ceramic cooking options due to better heat transfer.  That seems questionable but a far more interesting question is whether its better than cast iron that can be used both stove top and in the oven.  We'll see about that, although the clay pot is a lot lighter than anything cast iron.  The clay pot, however, will break without too much problem and will crack if used on high heat on a stove top.

We'll see. The first attempt will probably be a Vietnamese catfish dish.

In the meantime, later today I'll be adapting the great recipe for Vietnamese Five Spice Burgers to turkey:

Vietnamese Five-spice Pork Burgers

Traditional Vietnamese sandwiches, made with deli meats and baguettes, are hard to beat, but this burger has done it! Tangy and sweet carrot and daikon pickles are a great addition to the juicy, flavorful pork burgers. The pâté spread on a buttered, grilled bun is pure luxury. Every component of this burger has a separate role (i.e. the cucumbers cool your tongue from the heat of the jalapeños), which is why nothing should be left out. When put together, they create a beautifully colorful burger that's incredibly innovative and traditional at the same time.

These burgers can also be served on baguettes, if preferred, in which case, the patties should be formed into oblong shapes. Hamburger buns are a bit softer and easier to manage, which is why I've chosen them for this recipe. If available, buy a peppercorn pâté, which adds a great hint of black pepper to the burger.


Pickled Daikon and Carrot

1 1/2 cups julienned daikon

1 1/2 cups julienned carrot

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup sugar


2 lbs. ground pork

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc man)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice powder

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

6 good-quality sesame-seed hamburger buns, split

6 tablespoons salted butter, softened

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

6 tablespoons spreadable pork or liver pâté

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

2 jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced

18 fresh cilantro sprigs


To make the pickled daikon and carrot, combine the daikon, carrot, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl, tossing well to coat. Set aside to marinate. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make the patties, combine the pork, garlic, diced chiles, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, 5-spice powder, sugar, and lime zest and juice in a bowl, mixing well to incorporate. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form into round patties. Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack and grill for 6 to 7 minutes per side, until cooked through. Turn the patties 90 degrees halfway through cooking on each side, to attain grill marks. Spread the cut side of each bun half with 1/2 tablespoon butter and grill until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise on the cut side of each bun bottom and 1 tablespoon of the pâté on the cut side of each bun top. Place the patties on the bun bottoms and top with the cucumber and chile slices. Drain the carrot and daikon pickles and pile a generous amount atop each patty. Add the cilantro sprigs and the pate-smeared bun tops. Enjoy!

Servings: 6

Source: Viet World

© Warren Liebold 2011