Cooking with hot stones is one of the oldest methods of cooking. According to "The Journal of Anthropological Archeology," stone cooking methods in steaming, boiling pits and rock griddles were once common. Ancient fishermen boiled fish and shellfish in buckets heated with hot stones. Today, variations of these methods are utilised in both residential and commercial kitchens.
You can bake just about anything with cooking stones, including pizza and bread. Hot cooking stones come in round or rectangular shapes in different thickness. Rectangular stones are utilised in conventional ovens, while circular stones are used in outdoor grills. You can also make your own outdoor earth or sand oven. New Englanders often use this method for lobster and clambakes. Fill a two-foot deep wide hole with very hot stones, heated past 260 degrees C in your conventional oven, outdoor grill or campfire. Add food you want baked, wrapped in aluminium foil, and cover with an aluminium baking tray. Then place more heated stones on top of sheet. Cover stones with additional aluminium foil.
The Japanese perfected a method they call "Ishi-Yaki." It utilises small, differently-shaped, heated stones to cook fish, meats and seafood directly on the surface of the stone. Another tabletop method involves thick sheets of smooth stone like lava stone, basalt, soapstone, granite or marble. This method uses a metal rack that holds the highly heated slab of stone. Both are smokeless methods, perfect for areas with poor ventilation.
This steam method uses large, heated, round stones with water. Stones are placed into a metal container. Water is poured on the heated stones to create steam. Metal grates containing the food to be steamed are positioned directly above the steam. Caribbean and South Pacific islands often utilise bamboo or wood grates instead of metal ones. This is an extremely healthy way to cook with no oils, fat or butter.
The ancient Chinese created a method of "hot pot" cooking with stones. The heat of the stones causes the liquid to boil very rapidly. Today it is called "shabu-shabu." A pot is simply filled with water or a seasoned vegetable or beef stock and heated with hot stones until the water comes to a rapid boil. Uncooked pieces of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and any other raw food are submerged and cook in the hot boiling liquid.
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- Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M; University: Hot-rock cookery in western North America: The Fire Stones Carry: Ethnographic Records and Archaeological Expectations for Hot-Rock Cookery in Western North America.by Alston V. Thoms, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M; University, 2008.
- Japanblog: Ishi-Yaki: Hot Stone Cooking in Japan
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