Donabe Dos and Don'ts
Follow these (very important) rules and your Donabe will last a lifetime
Donabe (doh-NAH-bay) can be used for traditional Japanese cooking like hot pot, soups, stews, steaming, making rice, and even grilling and smoking.
Japanese artisanal pottery shines in each Iga-yaki donabe by Nagatani-en. Made by expert craftspeople, these beautifully glazed pieces take two weeks to create and each has a unique unfinished look consistent with the Iga-yaki's "wabi sabi" imperfect aesthetic.
As with all earthenware, there are rules for caring for your donabe. Please read them carefully.
WHAT TO DO
Season Your Donabe
Before the first use, this donabe must be seasoned. Without seasoning, the porous clay can form small cracks, causing the pot to leak. With proper seasoning, your donabe will last for many years. Some styles of donabe, such as Ibushi Gin do not need to be seasoned before the first use as they are made from a special type of Iga clay and glaze, designed to withstand extra high-heat dry cooking.
Read Seasoning Instructions below to prepare your Donabe for cooking.
Use a gas flame to heat your donabe. If you don’t have a gas stove, we suggest buying a portable butane gas burner stove (we love the Iwatani brand). This portable option is also great for outdoor cooking and hot pot family style dining.
Clean light burn spots by soaking the area in water and then scrubbing with a soft sponge, this process can be repeated if needed. Clean heavy burn spots by filling the donabe with water to cover the affected area, boil for 10-15 minutes, allow the donabe to cool, pour out water and scrub with a soft sponge, this process can be repeated if needed.
Expect small cracks (‘kannyu” in Japanese) to emerge within the glaze of your donabe. These fine lines are the signs of a well-loved and authentic donabe. Use your best judgement with wear and tear of your donabe. When it comes to chipping, very small chips may be fine but larger chips and internal cracks can cause the donabe to break during cooking.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Never use your donabe on an induction cooktop or electric stove unless instructed in the notes on your specific donabe.
Never heat your donabe while it is empty--this can cause cracking.
Never overheat your donabe.
Never add oil to an already hot donabe.
Never use your donabe for frying.
Never allow food to burn inside the donabe.
Never store food in your donabe.
HOW TO SEASON YOUR DONABE
- Cook about 2 cups of white rice. Set aside.
- Completely dry the bottom of the donabe. If you washed the donabe, leave 24 hours to dry before seasoning.
- Pour water into the donabe until it is about 3/4 full.
- Add the cooked rice - it should be at least 1/5 of the volume of the water. Stir the water and rice thoroughly.
- Cover the donabe with its lid and cook the rice over low to medium-low heat for around 20-30 minutes.
- When the rice and water begin to simmer, remove the lid and turn the heat to low. Continue to cook until the mixture becomes a paste. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom is not burned. Do not let the paste boil.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 1 hour.
- Turn out the rice paste from the donabe.
- Rinse the donabe thoroughly and let it dry completely before using it for the first time.