The slow cooker
best soup pot for simmering soups
Homemade Chinese Soups Homepage / Slow cooker
This is like my most favourite pot for making chinese soups, especially simmering soups.
Simmering chinese soups can be long tedious affairs because it takes at least an hour and requires constant attention.
The soup may boil over or dry out. It needs frequent stirring as heavier ingredients may settle and stick to the bottom of the pot.
Argh, the prospect of having to scrap and scrub.
Who has the time to fuss over a pot of soup constantly! It is the digital age and there are so many things to do! That is why, thank God for modern inventions like the slow cooker saving tremendous time by automating many things that used to be manual.
What's the difference between a slow cooker and a crockpot?
Not much! They are the same thing. Crock pot is the name of a brand of slow cookers. It is so famous that many people use the brand name to refer to the real thing. Just like panadol and paracetamol.
The slow cooker is a wonderful invention for making chinese soups.
It consists of:
The earthern pot fit snugly into the outer casing.
The heat comes from the heating element, which can be kept constant and low, the cooking temperature can also be kept at slightly below boiling point, the ideal temperature for simmering soups.
- a heavy glazed earthern pot
- an outer casing attached with an electrical heating element, and
- a heavy glass cover.
At below boiling point, the soup doesn't boil over and therefore do not need constant watching. The chinese soups can be kept under cover. This means there is minimum evaporation and little risk of the chinese soup drying up (unless it has been left for a ridiculously long period of time).
The glass cover of the crockpot allows checking in without lifting the cover and affecting the cooking temperature (for me, it allows me to peek at what my granny had made for dinner).
Since it is not necessary to watch the soup constantly, there's time to do other things. Take a shower, fetch the kids, watch TV, iron clothes, vacuum the floor, read a book, exercise...etc.
The picture on the right is the slow cooker my grandma is using now.
The inner pot is actually an unglazed earthern pot. All our previous ones have glazed earthern pot and we thought we should try one without. I also liked the design of the exterior casing. There is even a little poem at the side.
The cooking function is just as good but it takes more effort to clean. We will probably revert to a glazed one after this one.
Slow cooker tips
Take note of the following to maximize success:
- There will be less evaporation as compared to stove top cooking. Less liquid should be used if you are using a chinese soup recipe that uses an open stove method of cooking soup. In any case, the glazed earthern pot shouldn't be more than 80% full.
- Use hot or warm water instead of room temperature water to shorten the cooking time. That is, if you are really pressed for time.
- Keep your pets out of the kitchen when using the crock pot. The outer casing may get fairly hot. You won't want your pets especially curious cats to get hurt.
- If you are thinking of buying a slow cooker, see if you can find one that have a timer and a keep warm setting for keeping food warm. My family has gone through a couple ... yes, we are heavy users. I mentioned earlier that you didn't have to check on the soups constantly. The problem is sometimes I forget that I even had it on. Also, when my granny prepare soups early, she will leave it on LOW using it as a KEEP WARM setting. This means by the time I get home for dinner, the soups are slightly overcooked. So, when I'm drinking soups that are slightly overcooked, I wish mine had a timer.
The problem is, most slow cookers I come across at the shops do not have the keep warm setting. Their target market must be full-time homemakers.