Ever wondered how a person can make such a hearty complex soup in such a short time? Well my friends it is all due to a wonderful type of pot known as the pressure cooker. I have one that I use often to make Chinese soups that regularly require a lot of time on the stove. My pressure cooker only requires me about an hour on the stove to obtain similar flavors in a soup that regularly would require me to leave my pot simmering for 9 hours. I started using a pressure when I was in university and my very Chinese boyfriend (my now husband) grew up with a pressure cooker at home. His mom has two that she uses on a daily basis just for soups, and soups only. Now I know you can use it for cooking things like pot roast and I have seen a pork trotter in one before but I don’t dare to try it because I’m kinda shit scared of it in that way. I mean, it will seem scary it took me awhile to warm up to it because the sound it makes is like a bomb going to explode or like when you see in a movie a water boiler is going to explode and steam is shooting out of pipe. Yeah, it is scary the first few times. But after awhile when you get the hang of using and follow the proper instructions, you’ll know it’s actually an energy saving and time efficient pot.
Here’s a picture of my pot: It’s a Lagostina brand.
Ah, my pressure cooker. You can tell that it’s starting to loose it’s polish because I’ve used it so much. But what’s great about the Lagostina version of the pressure cooker is the lid. What I love about this lid is that (in my opinion) that it’s a secure lid. There are other pressure cookers where the top lid twists on and locks in at the handles. They have ridges like teeth on the rim of the lid and a black top where the steam is released- those ones scare the shit out of me. I had one of those when I was in university and I didn’t go near it. It looked like it was going to explode. Now I’m not saying that they do and I’ve never seen one of those pressure cookers with the lid blown off, but to me they just look scary. Now the one I have, if you look at the lid- it’s actually a lid that seals from the inside of the pot, so really it’s harder for the lid to pop off and it has a safety feature where there is a red tab that lifts up when there’s pressure and actually prevents the handle on the lid from falling down and unsealing itself. The red tab is also a good indicator of when you can uncover your pot- when it goes down it means the majority of the pressure inside the pot is gone and you can safely open it.
Now the key to using this pot is that you can’t fill it with water all the way to the top, there’s actually an indicator in them to let you know how much water you can have in it. Now, if you ever come across one that doesn’t have an indicator on it- I generally would suggest to make sure that water must reach a height that is less than 3 inches below the rim of the pot unless otherwise indicated on the instructions manual. There’s also electronic ones that you can get at William-Sonoma which I think might be better for those who aren’t familiar with the standard type of pressure cooker. Those are the ones that will automatically shut off once it reaches a certain pressure and cooking time.
How I use my pressure cooker is that I put all my ingredients in, close it up and place it on my stove that’s set to high heat. Then you’ll notice it letting off steam and I leave it for 15 minutes on high heat and then I turn the heat down to medium and leave it for like 20 – 30 on medium heat. After the 30 minutes of freakin hot steam coming out of this pot, I shut off the heat and leave it untouched so it can slowly let out all the pressure until my red indicator sinks and I remove my lid. Now, if you find that your pressure cooker is super hot and is taking forever to let steam out the fastest way to deal with it is to bring it to the sink and have COLD RUNNING WATER over top of it until it cools off and stops spewing steam.
Once all your steam is gone and you removed the lid from the pot, you want to make sure you get your flavors from the pot- this is a really key point when using a pressure cooker is that once it’s done steaming and you have the lid off you want to actually set the stove back to a high- high/medium heat to let it boil regularly for about 10 – 15 minutes. This allows all the flavors to come together and make your soup or dish taste great. If you don’t do this, you’re going to get a tasteless pot of water and vegetables.
Well, there you have it! One of my favorite things to have in the kitchen, it will scare you at first but the reward is worth it! I got my Lagostina pressure cooker in Canadian Tire for about $150.00 before gst but you can get an electronic one from William Sonoma for a couple hundred dollars. 😛