mayoraasei: (Gakuen Alice)
[personal profile] mayoraasei
You know you're getting on in age when the purchase of an expensive pot makes you happy.

The fact that I'm posting about this is in tribute to every student's favourite pastime...procrastination.

Myer was having a 50% off if you purchase 2 items sale last weekend (which is also on this weekend), and since I've been wanting a smaller pot than my 24cm Le Creuset casserole for ages, I made the snap purchase ($150 instead of the RRP$300). The second item was an unexciting Maxwell & Williams ceramic pot which will probably barely get used.

But! I now have a 18cm Staub cocotte! It's so cute! Even if it's a rather monochromatic shade of grey. It's just the right size for 1.5 person's worth of soup noodles, or 2 person's worth of soup! And probably just a bit on the small side when I tried making the Vietnamese tomato beef stew (Bo Kho).

And now I'm eyeing a 20cm pot +/- a 22cm pot..................................

Who would have thought that pots could be a sinkhole of doom?

Random gems of research
- Le Creuset has the widest range of colours and Staub a particularly limited range in Australia. Both brands have some specialty pots (tomato and pumpkin). Le Creuset in particular has some nice Asia-only colours and styles.
- Both Le Creuset and Staub import smaller pots only to Asian countries. For example, you'll find east Asian outlets all selling 14, 16, 18 and 20cm pots. I am yet to find an Australian outlet that sells a Staub 20cm, or a Le Creuset in anything smaller than 20cm (i.e. 14-18). In the same vein, maybe because Asian wives go for the whole cutesy thing, you get the brighter colours and the girly flower-shaped or heart-shaped pots...only in Asia. Sigh.
- What exactly qualifies as Australian cuisine anyway? How come we only get the boring round/oval casseroles? Le Creuset has some nice pot shapes overseas, including the popular-in-east-Asia Marmite/Chef's pan style, which has a sloped bottom to make stirfrying a bit more amenable while also being a versatile soup saucepan; and the American website also has a "Balti dish" for Indian cuisine.
- Staub is heavier than Le Creuset, though with my 24cm pot you probably won't care about the difference (your wrists get sore pretty quickly!) The 18cm is just the right sort of heft, a bit heavier than my Scanpan saucepan which has a pretty heavy base and long heavy handles. The only visible benefit is that - what they say is true - Staub is less likely to spill over on simmering. I need to recheck this with Le Creuset as I have had experiences of it spilling over and also of it not spilling when I expect it to. However, I was very impressed while making the Bo Kho that I had the Staub pot filled to the brim and it didn't spill despite it being on a higher setting than what my stainless steel saucepan can tolerate without spilling.
- Does it retain flavour better? Possibly. Previously I've always needed to add sugar to balance the sourness in the tomatos, but this time it was fine just with the sweetness it apparently extracted from the carrots and turnip. I don't know if that's the pot or the turnip, though XD
- The black enamel of Staub needs a bit of seasoning to start with, but the white enamel of Le Creuset has a problem with staining, so they both need to be looked after.
- As with all enamelled cast iron pots, the caring instructions is extensive - slow and patient seems to be the buzz here, from the cooking to the cleaning.
- Sizes: everyone is different, but a 14cm is probably just enough for a child's meal. 16cm would be okay for a one person portion of noodles (but will be a bit cramped trying to cook). 18cm would be for 1-3 people. The 24cm I rarely use because of how heavy it is and how rare that I need to stew something that big. Might be about right for a whole chicken, or about 4-5 person's worth of congee.

So what am I looking forward to now? Well, either a 20cm (more practical) or a 22cm (more accessible). There's also a Japanese brand called Vermicular that has apparently been doing the rounds in Asia and is very well-reviewed. It has some nice pearly pastels that appeal to the Asian palate, and some nice design quirks courtesy of Japanese attention to detail. Price-wise it is actually more expensive than the French traditional factories, and as a new brand it remains to be seen whether the quality will hold up (although these days artisan stuff "Made in Japan" is a pretty solid brand in itself).

I need to recheck to see if the difference between spillage is true for Le Creuset vs Staub...I've been wanting a 20cm Le Creuset (the colours!) but will definitely get a Staub if the spillage is a real problem since oven-cooking is pretty low on my priorities and it's mainly stovetop simmering that I need to do.

I've also been lemming some cute Le Creuset ramekins...might stimulate my itch to make cakes again...

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