Citizens, your beloved leader – the virile and usually healthy TFD – is sadly down for the count today with the flu rampaging across California. My misery is mitigated however knowing that I can share with you a recipe that is guaranteed to banish all illness from your body – the apotheosis of chicken soup, made in a Yunnan steam pot!
As noted on the website ceramics-in-france.com:
…confirming the saying that “old pots make the best soup”. The design is in fact based on the “Yunnan pot” that has been used for centuries in the Yunnan province of China. Perhaps the fact that Yunnan cooking is not included in the eight large groups of Chinese regional cuisine explains that the techniques and recipes of that region are less well known in the West. The “Yunnan pot” is still used in Yunnan and elsewhere but is very hard to find in Europe and North America.
In the town of Jianshui, during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, a potter by the name of Yang Li created a steam-pot with a hollow tube in the middle. This special design made possible the preparation of “qiguoji” or “steam-pot chicken” the now famous culinary speciality of Yunnan province. According to this method, pieces of chicken are placed in the steam pot along with mushrooms, water-chestnuts, scallions and seasoned with ginger and rice wine. Other ingredients may sometimes be added such as ginseng, medicinal herbs and even dried Himalayan caterpillars! Gradually a soup is formed by the condensation of the steam and the juices of all the ingredients. Renowned for its rich and subtle flavour and its curative properties, this soup, thanks to the clay steam-pot does not boil while cooking.
Redcook.net goes into more detail on the cooking process:
The best steam clay pots are made from Yunnan red clay that is durable yet porous. The pot seasons with repeat use. In fact cleaning agents are not recommended, as they will be absorbed into the permeable clay. With age the pot will make even more flavorful soup.
Traditionally when steaming the soup the pot is placed on top of another regular clay pot full of boiling water. The two pots are sealed together with strips of paper using a starchy paste to prevent steam from escaping out the sides. As the steam cooks it condenses and create the most intensely flavored soup I know. If you do not have another clay pot for boiling water you can use any pot that will support the steam clay pot. Sealing the seam between the pots however is essential.
Yunnan steam pots are surprisingly difficult to find online – but you can have one made for you here!
Once you have one of these artisinal steam pots, you will thank me from the bottom of your hearts for the rich and delicious stocks and soups you will make with it!
My Citizens, you simply must try this style of cooking – it will make the most flavorful chicken soup you’ve ever tasted!
Battle on – The Generalissimo