Monday, April 30, 2012

Claypot Pork Belly with Salted Fish

I have this book "All About Claypot Dishes" for the longest time but have never attempted any of the recipes till recently. Cooking with claypot is a new experience for me. I bought my claypot from a shop near KL's Pudu market at only RM8.00 if I remember correctly. Or was it RM7.50. Yup, it's that cheap!

In Asia, claypot is a highly popular cooking vessel as it retains heat very well. It also heats up evenly, thus making the food inside, especially meat, cooked faster while maintaining its full flavor.

So here, I'm going to share in summary what I have gleaned of from this claypot book of mine.

How to pick a good claypot?

The pot should not have any cracks and when a gentle knock is given, it should produce a crisp and loud sound. The lid should cover the pot evenly and nicely, so that the heat and fragrance from the food that is cooking inside will not evaporate quickly. The inside of the pot should also be glazed.

What to do before the first cooking?

Unlike shiny stainless steel pots, a brand new claypot needs to be treated before it is used. To treat it, simply soak it in tap water for a day so that it doesn't crack or break while being used over the stove. After that, boil some water in it, preferably water from rinsing rice. Reason is the starch in the water will seep into the pores of the claypot and thus, helps to strengthen the pot.

How to care and clean a claypot?

Do not heat up an empty claypot. Also, do not immediately soak or wash the claypot after cooking as the sudden change of water temperature may eventually crack it. Wash it with a non-metallic scrubbing pad or brush after the pot has cooled down. After washing, wipe clean and leave to air dry before storing. If the pot has not been used for weeks or months, it's advisable to soak it in water for 1-2 hours before using. 

Although the above sounds like a lot to digest, do not feel discouraged as it's really easy to cook with claypot. The food is flavorful and for a strange reason, it makes me feel somewhat wonderfully nostalgic! 

Last but not least, here's one of the many flavorful recipes from the book - claypot pork belly with salted fish.


~ 300 g pork belly, cut into thin slices
~ 25 g salted fish
~ 2 cloves garlic, chopped
~ 6 shallots, sliced thinly
~ 2 to 3 dried chillies, cut into several pieces, remove the seeds
~ 5 slices ginger
~ 4 to 5 stalks spring onion, cut into 3 cm strips
~ 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
~ 2/3 cup water
~ 1/2 tbsp cornflour (dissolve in 3 tbsps water)
~ Some cooking oil

Marinade - 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce; 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce; 1/2 tbsp cornflour

Seasonings - 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce; 1 tbsp light soy sauce; 1 tsp sugar; 1tbsp shaoxing wine

~ Combine pork belly slices with the marinade and set aside for 30 minutes. 
~ Pan-fry salted fish until fragrant, set aside. 
~ Heat cooking oil in a claypot. Add shallots, garlic, ginger and dried chillies and fry until fragrant. Stir in pork belly and toss well. Add water and sugar and bring to a boil. Cover the claypot with its lid and simmer over low heat until pork belly is soft. Add a little bit of water one at a time if necessary.
~ Add salted fish and seasonings and continue to simmer for a few minutes more. 
~ Add in the cornflour mixture, stir well and let it come to a simmer and the gravy would have thickened.
~ Stir in spring onion and onion. Toss well for a few seconds. It is now ready to be served with rice.

Happy Labor Day holiday!

petite nyonya


  1. I wish I could get a clay pot like yours! I love cooking in clay pots, and stoneware. I have one that is so well seasoned I no longer have to soak it. You are right about the care, it is really quite simple, once you get the hang of it. I have never used on stove top though, it is interesting that you can use it like that.

  2. Oh, this dish looks really good too, I need to make it! :)

  3. This dish looks so good; this will work with goat/ lamb.

    We use our claypots with the same care; the rice starch tip is new and thankyou for sharing.

  4. Wah, looks sooooo delicious! My claypot is collecting dust in my cupboard!! I only use the bigger one to boil soup. Meleleh....when are you cooking this again? ...invite, ya?

  5. Lyndsey, we use claypots over stove top fire all the time here & works very well.

    Shri, yes, I bet this will be equally good with lamb or mutton. Yumm!

    KF, ok next time I'll invite you! :)

  6. Just discovered your blog! Oh man this is great! I find it difficult to find authentic nonya recipes online, esp since manya re guarded family secrets. I love it when food is cooked in a claypot, it adds so much aroma and flavour to the food. thanks also for all the tips on claypots, looking forward to seeing more.

  7. Yalah! Sure sedap...what's more with the salted fish!! Hey don't forget me the next time you cooked have to cook extra rice...hahaha!

  8. how about cooking this for us? you don't have to bring your claypot..i have one..heeheehee and i have the pork belly!!

  9. MMM,..what a tasty & lovely pork belly dish! I love this tasty dinner a lot! Rich of real flavours & so fragrant looking too! :)

  10. I love this. I can eat two big bowls of rice with this dish.

  11. Hi Nyonya, Wow! I have not eaten this more than 30 years! I sure would love to have this for dinner. A guarantee tiga pingga nasi lichin.
    Gosh! You are really fantastic!

    This the kind of dish no Nyonya worth her salt cannot cook. Nyonya, OUTSTANDING!
    Hey, you free drop by my pondok, got something for you.
    Best regards.

  12. hi nyonya,
    i indeed need to change the pork belly to sthg halal to me. looking at your dish mmmmm...making me so so very hungry.
    thx for sharing!

  13. Mommy Alma, beef goes well in this recipe too so you can definitely can enjoy the halal version of it :).

  14. Pork belly cooked with salted fish! Sounds very yummy! My husband will love this dish :D

    Your blog has lots of beautiful Singaporean or Malaysian cooking. I would love to learn more from you and here I am being your latest follower :D