Friday, September 28, 2012

How to Cook Rice in a Korean Stone Pot (and how to season it)

A dolsot or Korean stone pot is the latest addition to my kitchen.  A Korean friend of mine taught me how to cook rice in it (from scratch - instead of just adding cooked rice and heating like most people do) and after hearing her passionate description of how delicious it is, I just had to have one.

The pot is made of a single piece of stone, hand turned on a massive lathe.  It's a heavy blighter so you don't want to be dropping it on your finger like I did.

Before the first use, it needs to be seasoned.  You only need to do this the first time or if it's been sitting for a year or more.

How to season your Dolsot

Wash the pot with water and half fill with tepid water.  Add a couple of tablespoons of sea salt to the water and swish around with your fingers until all the salt is dissolved   Leave for a few minutes so that the temperature of the water and the pot can even out, than bring to boil on medium heat.  When the water is boiling vigorously, take the pot off the heat and carefully poor off the water.

When it has cooled a bit, poor some sesame oil on a cloth or paper towel and rub the inside of the pot and lid.  Lave it to cool completely and the oil to seep in.

How to Cook Rice in a Dolsot

1 cup rice
Kombu (kelp) - optional

  • Coat the inside of the pot with sesame (or any cooking) oil.  Do this every time, just before you cook in this pot.
  • Wash the rice really well.
  • You can add other grains with the rice.  I often replace one Tbs of rice with  Naked Oats.
  • Once it's well washed, add the water.  You can follow the amount of water on the back of the rice package or you can put the washed rice in the pot and cover with water so it's about 1.5cm above the level of the rice.  Or, you can do what I did, and measure the water in the rice-cooker then poor it into the stone pot.
  • Add a pinch of salt to the rice (swish it around to dissolve) and if you like, add some kombu.  
  • Let the pot stand for about five minutes before you start cooking, this allows the temperature to even out and reduces the chance of the bowl splitting or cracking.

  • Bring the rice pot to a roiling boil on MEDIUM HEAT!  

  • I repeat: MEDIUM HEAT!
  • Once the pot heats up, you can increase the temperature, but the important thing with these pots is not to change the temperature too rapidly one way or another. 
  • When the water boils, turn down the heat.  You can tell when it boils as some steam will escape through the lid.  You can even check it from time to time and stir it if you like, but I didn't bother.

  • When it's finished cooking (how long this takes depends on your stove and rice/grain - but basically it's when there isn't much steam escaping any more), you can eat it as is or put toppings on the rice, increase the heat until the rice starts to make a crackling sound and goes all crunchy and brown around the edges.  The latter is called Bibimbap in Korea and is extremely yummy.

Clockwise from the top:
 Leaks lightly fried and then simmered in Sake,
Salted Salmon, Cucumber nukazuke pickles, and Kim Chi.  

Of course, mine isn't real Bibimbap, I don't have the correct ingredients or sauces.  Basically I put a collection of things I like to eat on top of the rice.

After you finish eating the rice (toppings or no) there will probably be a layer of crunchy rice around the edge.  Before the pot cools down too much, add some HOT broth, hot water, or dashi.  NOTE: Please try and keep the liquid as close to the temperature of the pot as possible when you poor it in, when it doubt err on the hot side.

Adding the liquid makes a really nice soup (and makes it easier to clean later on).

Tips for Caring for your Dolsot

  • Do NOT use soap to clean this pot.  If you are having trouble getting it clean either scrub with coarse salt and water or boil up some water in the pot then allow to cool completely before cleaning.
  • Always allow to cool completely before cleaning.  Even though you may be able to handle the outside, the stone retains a lot of heat inside.
  • Always coat the inside with cooking oil prior to using (this includes the lid)
  • Do NOT change the temperature too rapidly   This includes putting cold water in a hot pot, or hot water in a cold pot, or cooking on too high a heat.  Sudden changes in temperature will crack or even shatter the bowl, and that's the last thing we want.

Some useful dolsot links
Korean Stone Pot Care and Seasoning
Dolsot Problems?
Yeongyang dolsotbap Dolsot Bibimbap recipe

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