China Travel Braised Pot Factories

China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, and within it lies a unique form of cookery specializing in the making of braised pot factories. Found mostly in historic, downtown streets of China, these factories are devoted to creating the perfect one-pot meal of succulent meat, vegetables and herbs. As generations of foodies have come to learn, Chinese braised pottery is both an art and a science.

At the crux of the cooking process is the pottery itself. These clay vessels are carefully crafted by hand to ensure the perfect seal, finely distributor heat, and, perhaps most importantly, flavor-locked layers, necessary to create the distinct taste of the Chinese braised pot.

As a result of the pot’s unique design, many of the dishes prepared feature a brine-y sweetness delivered by the slow-release
of flavor-locked juices and the addition of soy sauce. This sweet-yet-savory quality is often attributed to the close attention and care rendered by those at the factories. The sheer skill and precision, demonstrated by the potters and chefs with over 20 years of experience, is truly something to behold.

When it comes to the process, fabricators source only the freshest ingredients from local markets. The meats used are generally fatty pork and beef while the vegetables are a mix of bean, leafy, and root vegetables with a wider variety being available depending on the season. Herbs are also carefully selected and include dough balls or dumplings (typically filled with pork and shrimp), which are then added at the end.

Notwithstanding, these pots are not just used to prepare savory meals. Desserts too are crafted from within as proprietors have discovered new and innovative ways to use
the shallower clay. The result of this experimentation is a deliciously sweet creation that offers an interesting contrast of textures of crispy and soft.

Though braised pot factories in China are not yet as renowned as other cooking styles, it is no secret that the one-pot meal is gaining popularity amongst locals and visitors alike. If you happen to find yourself in a backstreet of a Chinese town, be sure to make time to visit one of these amazing pottery workspaces and experience some of their culinary magic.

Types of Dish

Among the many dishes put out from the factories is the popular Braised Pork Belly. This combines the fatty pork with a bevy of other sauces and ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic, anise and cinnamon. Peas, carrots, and bell peppers are also added in for bulk and texture. The key to making the perfect Pork Belly is the steam and slow simmer process, which is where the pottery comes in for perfect heat distribution.

Likewise Caotou with Honey Sauce, also known as Fried Cuttlefish, is a common choice amongst customers. This dish relies heavily on the heat and timing of when the fried cuttlefish is added to the pot – any earlier and it will become become too tough; any later and it’ll be over cooked. It is also serviced with an optional honey-based glaze, which can be applied to the cuttlefish as desired.

Finally, Sweet and Sour Ribs are also available. This classic dish calls for the ribs to marinade for at least an hour or overnight with a homemade mixture of garlic, ginger, spring onions, sugar, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine. The use of the pottery allows the ribs to boil and roast at the same time while releasing flavor locked juices into the mix.

Popularity

The popularity of braised pot factories is on the rise, and for good reason. The affordability of the service and the vast selection of dishes on offer draw in people from all over who are looking to experience a one-of-a-kind culinary venture. Furthermore, the hustle and bustle of the historic streets they are situated in just add to the overall atmosphere, making it all the more enjoyable for those looking to explore.

The festive atmosphere is also hardly missed, as the staff at the factories take the time out to greet and welcome customers. One can usually expect to be asked if they are a regular and how the food is, as well as recommendations on what to order next. On busy days, the line ups can be surprisingly long, and one will be met with a lively crowd of people, eager to get their hands on the iconic pottery.

With the growing interest in Chinese cuisine, braised pot factories have become more common in cities and grander in scale. As some of the oldest culinary centres in China, these factories offer locals and tourists alike a newfound appreciation of this distinct cooking style and the pottery art that accompanies it.

Cooking Techniques

The craft of braising involves the direct addition of moisture during the cooking process. By adding liquid to the pot at intervals, the ingredients are forced to maintain their flavour and juiciness. This heat, steam and liquid, combination works as ingredient tenderizer and flavour enhancer.

The primary objective is for the potteries to trap as much heat and liquid as possible as this encourages even and quick cooking, helping to retain the maximum flavour end juiciness of the ingredients. This is partially achieved with the tightly fixed lid but also the special clay material used to build the pots.

In the end, each item has to be simmered slowly over a low heat for several hours. The careful upkeep of the pot and the duration of cooking are key for the full flavor, aroma and texture of the meal.

Finally, as a precaution, the pots also feature a row of air holes around the edges of the lid. This allows the contents to steam while reducing the pressure from within.

Health Benefits

As if the deliciousness of the dishes were not enough, braised pot factories offer great health benefits. As previously mentioned, the high-quality clay pots are designed to trap moisture and flavors, leading to meals with reduced fat content. This is made possible by the fact that the dishes are cooked at both a low and even temperature, which results in food that is tender and juicy.

Also, the low heat helps to preserve the nutrients in the ingredients used. With fewer calories, the dishes are a great choice if trying to cut down on calories.

Moreover, the quality of the ingredients used in the cooking process is also worth noting. Manufacturers of braised pottery are known to source for the best meats and vegetables that are generally of higher quality and much tastier than those purchased from the store. This boost in flavor can also be attributed to the fact that the meal has been cooked at a low heat for an extended amount of time, allowing the ingredients to steam and absorb all the flavour.

Conclusion

The braised pottery industry in China is something that has been slowly growing in popularity and now more than ever, these establishments offer a unique dining experience that fuses art and science. The perfect pottery and skillful expertise of these factories, along with great health benefits have created a rapidly growing fan base that continues to express a great appreciation for the one-pot dishes in the form of flavour and texture.

John Melendez

John J. Melendez is a journalist, author, and commentator specializing in Chinese culture, politics, and international relations. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, and is the author of several books on Chinese culture and politics. He currently resides in Beijing, China.

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