Earlier this week I had a chance to visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a reproduction of one of the many Chinookan plankhouses that Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery visited on their way to the Pacific Ocean. The Cathlapotle Plankhouse captures the spirit of the fascinating cedar, multi-family dwellings in which Chinookan people lived more than two hundred years ago. What I want to talk about today is a centuries-old hot pot style that’s inspiring me to rethink some of our home cooking.The Chinook people would fill this striking hand-carved vessel with water and then add rocks that they’d heated in the fire. Then they’d use the hot liquid to poach fish and vegetables. I can imagine the smokey, cedar flavor that the vessel and hot rocks must have brought to the dish. Although I do not have an appropriate wooden bowl for cooking this way, I think that a Dutch oven might be able to serve the same purpose, as long as the iron did not lose its heat too quickly.
Have you ever cooked in a hot pot like this?