We are very happy to present these Donabe pots from Osaka, Japan. Donabe" means clay pot in Japanese, and it's one of Japan's oldest cooking vessels, according to Naoko Takei Moore, author of Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking.
Originating in Japan's Iga province, the earthenware pots are made out of clay with properties ideal for operating at high temperatures, including in kilns and during high-heat cooking. This kind of clay from Iga is super porous, which means it builds heat slowly (and, similar to a slow-cooker, may take a longer time to initially heat up) but it keeps heat effectively once it's at peak temperature. According to Moore, every Japanese household has at least one donabe in its kitchen, and it's an important part of group meals, since a portable burner turns it into insta-hot pot!
Using your Donabe: We use our donabe primarily for rice pots and stews. Here's a tip for preparing a rice pot dish. Soak rice plus dashi broth, stock, or water in your donabe for about 20 minutes. Then turn the stove up to medium-high heat to begin cooking. Next, top the rice with vegetables, meat, tofu, mushrooms, whatever you like! Add seasoning ( we use a standard soy, seseme oil, white pepper, a pinch of sugar , cooking wine ) , and just cook together with the lid on. Take it off heat after about 15 minutes, let it rest for 20, and serve in the same dish. A one pot delicious, nutritious and warming meal !
Caring for your Donabe: It's very handy and durable, but you do need to take care of it because it's a breakable item. For starters, a donabe is not dishwasher safe. You have to hand wash it. You also don't want to soak the donabe for a long time in soap or scrub it too harshly, because you could damage the clay. After washing, Moore recommends flipping it upside down to let it dry overnight, because the clay is porous and absorbs a lot of moisture, so you want to dry it out completely. Another note: Do not heat it empty. Always make sure you have a light drizzle of liquid inside, whether that's a touch of oil for sautéing a soup ingredient or stock.
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