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Barbara Tropp, the famous San Francisco Chinese-California fusion chef, suggests the following, in "China Moon Cookbook" (1992, paperback edition, p. 177):

"I have several cracked sandpots that have healed themselves. This is strange news from the pen of someone who does not believe in such things. But it is true nevertheless. I think the secret is soy sauce and brown sugar.

If you believe in miracles, heat an equal mixture of the two, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool a bit, then paint the goop thickly on the inside and outside of the crack. "Cure" the sandpot upside down on the middle shelf of a preheated 300 degree F oven. Over the course of 15 or 20 minutes, reapply the salve 4 or 5 times. Let the pot cool. Don't wash it. Simply return it for use for your next saucy casserole.

This has worked for me on more than one occasion...."

Elsewhere (I'm not certain if it was in this cookbook, or in "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking"), she mentions sealing a sandpot that had developed a leak by cooking a duck dish with a soy/sugar sauce; the mix of duck fat, soy and sugar sealed the pot from the inside while the dish cooked ...

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Jason

JasonZ

Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

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One of my clay pots, and the one most used, is a smallish clay pot -- the kind with the short hollow handle and the wire around the outside. It is open clay on the exterior and glazed inside.

As long as I can remember, it has had a couple of cracks across the bottom of the pot. One big curved one and 2 or 3 short straight cracks. When I tap it, it has that dull sound of something cracked. The glazed interior doesn't 'appear' to show any cracks.

But the cracks on the bottom are bounded by discolor, as tho something seeped thru the clay. The rest of the bottom doesn't show this .

This pot has never leaked when I've used it. I never did anything to 'heal' it. Somehow, as dear Barbara Tropp said --- it healed itself.

(Xiao Leung -- why don't you come visit me and help me put some pictures up, so that I can show what I'm talking about!)

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Why bother fixing them? If you live anywhere near a Chinese/Asian store, you can replace for $10+/- If you tried fixing them, like I have and it leaked like a sonovagun, you are always going to be worried that it will crack again.

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That's true... where we are a clay pot sells at under US$10 a piece. Not seems worthing the effort to "fix" it. Are they much higher in U.K.?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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  • 2 months later...

I have another question about clay pots.

I have the type of clay pot that has the metal wires around it. I love my clay pot and have had it for years. However, the metal wires were starting to rust and I didn't want it to be in my food, so I took it off. Is there any reason for the metal wiring? or is it just for looks?

Thanks in advance.

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  • 2 months later...
I have another question about clay pots.

I have the type of clay pot that has the metal wires around it.  I love my clay pot and have had it for years.  However, the metal wires were starting to rust and I didn't want it to be in my food, so I took it off.  Is there any reason for the metal wiring? or is it just for looks?

Thanks in advance.

Hi, XiaoLing--if you're still interested in this question after all this time, I think I found the answer while researching info after buying my very first clay pot. According to this site, the wire cages around some clay pots "serve both to protect the fragile earthenware and distribute heat evenly." But apparently there are other clay pots without the wire cage that do just fine. So my guess is that if you've been using your pot without the wire and it's been performing okay, and you handle it carefully enough that it's not going to get banged up, then I don't think there's anything to worry about.

Now for my questions about my new clay pot: it came with instructions giving two different methods of pre-treating it before first use. One is to soak it in tap water for 2-3 hours, and then make porridge/congee or rice the first dish cooked in it. The other method is to fill it with water that has been used to rinse rice, and leave it sit for three days. Especially since mine has a glazed interior such that I don't think water would penetrate it so well from the inside, I'm leaning towards method #1. Any opinions?

Another thing: all references to clay pots I've found on the web so far (other than here in eGullet) only mention using the pot for oven cooking. Meanwhile, I've seen how lots of folks here on eGullet put their clay pots on their range burners with no ill effects. This makes especial sense to me given that my understanding is that oven-cooking is not very common in traditional Chinese cookery. But I have an electric range--is it safe to put a clay pot on one of those? Do I need some kind of heat diffuser between the pot and the burner? Any special way I need to prepare/pre-treat the pot for its rendezvous with the burner?

Thanks--looking forward to playing with my new toy! :smile:

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mizducky, The pots with wire are also called sand pots. I used method #1 for mine and it seemed to work. I have a gas stove and always use a diffuser underneath. I read to never heat the pot without liquid, bring the temp. up slowly, and if cooking rice to never peek to see if it's done! I can tell if its boiling by touch and sound now. These are a bit different than the rommertoff clay cookers and do not need to be soaked before every use. Once seasoned just use the pot normally. I love mine and use them frequently. Good luck and have fun.

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Thanks!

I currently have the pot doing its seasoning soak in the kitchen sink (I opted for method #1 from the instructions that came with it). My heat diffuser seems to have gone missing, but I can't resist playing with the new toy ASAP, so I think its inaugural batch of congee is going to happen in the oven. Whee! We likes new toys, yes we do! :laugh:

Edited to add: I'm going to start it in a cold--not a pre-heated--oven, so as to make the temperature change as gradual as possible.

Edited by mizducky (log)
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I have been using the current clay pot for about 6 to 7 years... can't remember exactly. The very same one that shows up in my pictorial recipes, like in this picture:

gallery_19795_2839_8994.jpg

I have not done any seasoning or even any special care. I have been abusing it for years: high heat, sudden heat, dashing cold liquid into it (usually ShaoHsing wine), turning the stove setting rapidly from high to low and vice versa. It took all my abuse very well - unlike my last "sand pot" which cracked after just a couple of years. May be they have developed a durable kind of ceramic material. I highly recommend picking up something similar. No wire is needed.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Greetings, Ah Leung! I did have your clay pot on my mind, but I didn't see one like yours in the store I bought mine in, which was just a neighborhood grocery market. There's a restaurant supply store up on Convoy I could check.

It's hard to tell from a photo on a computer screen, but it looks like your pot is glazed all over, outside and in--is it? That might help a lot with the heat toughness...

For my first dish in my little sand pot, I made a nice batch of congee, with shiitakes and wakame.

When I bought the pot, I also picked up some pork butt and a pig's foot. I had been reading about the French daube cookoff elsewhere on eGullet and started thinking about making some kind of braised meat goodness, and then it came to me that what I really wanted to make was a red-cooked stew. So that may be my next experiment with my sandpot. It only holds a quart so it'll be a small stew--but that's actually perfect for a single cook.

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It's hard to tell from a photo on a computer screen, but it looks like your pot is glazed all over, outside and in--is it? That might help a lot with the heat toughness...

Yes it is.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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