The first is that clay is somewhat porous. Heat and moisture circulate through the pot during cooking, unlike with metal or enamel-lined pots. Chef Charles Phan from The Slanted Door in San Francisco describes the cooking as "slow, even, delicate" in his ode to Bram Cookware in the latest Saveur 100. Most pots are also made with micaceous clay (clay containing mica flecks), and mica acts as a natural insulator.
The second thing that that makes these pots special is that the clay is alkaline. In a recent interview on KCRW's Good Food, clay pot maker Felipe Ortega explained that the clay will interact with acidity in the food, neutralizing the pH balance. Something that is naturally very acidic, like a tomato sauce, will take on some natural sweetness when cooked in a clay pot. (Ortega even said that he will only drink coffee out of a clay mug because it tastes more robust and he hardly has to add sweetener!)
With that said, let’s try this Thai recipe to showcase the unique properties of clay! Thai food offers a variety of flavors and tastes. The subtle mixing of herbs and spices, curries and market-fresh ingredients, makes Thai dining a unique culinary experience
Yields about 4 to 6 servings.
Health Note: Peanuts and peanut butter are nutritious! Peanut butter was invented around 1890 as a health food for undernourished patients. To this day, peanut butter provides an inexpensive source of plant protein, monounsaturated fats, and many nutrients. One ounce of peanuts is a good source of protein and contains several vitamins and minerals. Peanuts are good sources of vitamin E and B vitamins. They supply minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.