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Donabe Pots are Japanese clay pots that are used directly over fire. They are often used to make rice and soups. In Korea, these pots are used commonly to make bibimbap. The exterior are usually porous with the interior glazed. These pots are prized for its ability to retain heat and keep food hot. However, these types of Donabe Pots are not as popular in the states as they are in Asia. Nevertheless, if you are willing to give it a try, Donabe are a great way of making traditional Japanese food. This article will list some of the Best Donabe Pots available.
History of Donabe Pots
Donabe Pots first appeared in Japan during the 8th century. However, wide spread use did not start until the 17th century of the Edo Period. These pots would be used as a center piece on Tatami mats and the whole family would gather around it. The preferred heating source at that time was charcoal instead of gas which is more commonly used today. In Japan, the Iga Prefecture is the preferred place to have Donabe Pots manufactured. They have over 1300 years of manufacturing these pots. For this reason, if you buy one, it is often time best to have one that originate from there.
What do You Cook in a Donabe
Most people use Donabe Pots as a center piece to cook hot pot. They would gather around and stew broth in it. Its great for a family gathering. Some popular Japanese dishes include oden and nabe hot pot. A lot of Japanese also use Donabe Pots as rice cooker.
Donabe Smoker and Other Uses
Models with a wire rack can be used as a smoker. Just place some smoke chip lined with aluminum and seal it. You can usually place some water in between them to keep smoke from escaping. Using this method will yield a miniature smoker.
Smaller Donabe Pots are used to cook rice. The Chinese have a very similar style of rice cooking called clay pot rice.
In Korea, these pots are used to make stews or bibimbap. The rice is served in the bowl with toppings mixed in.
Seasoning a Donabe Pots
Before first use, it is recommended to boil rice into the pot. By doing this, starch leaches into the pores and prevent water from occupying it. Moisture inside these pots can cause steam to expand and cause cracks.
To season it, just fill the pot with rice water. That is water from the first wash of rice. Fill it almost to the brim and bring it to a simmer. After 15-20 minutes, shut off the heat and let it cool naturally. Once cooled, empty the pot and dry with a rag.
Use and Care
To care for the pot, never soak it in water. The exterior is especially important as that are is usually unglazed. When drying it, flip it bottom side up so that liquid can escape. This will prevent moisture from getting trapped.
Some common usage tips include avoid rapid temperature change. Thermal shock can cause the pot to crack. If its pot, do not put it on a cold surface. When you heat up the pot, its recommended to use low heat and raise the temperature slowly.
If mold is forming, then all you need to do is dry it properly. Mold cannot grow in a dry environment.
Washing Donabe Pots
To wash it, rinse and scrub with a sponge. Since these pots are porous, I would avoid soap. Although the interior glaze can help with that.
Best Donabe Pots List
Below, you will find a list of some of the best Donabe Pots available.
Hase Garden stove’s Sanhe
A traditional hand made Donabe Pot made in the Iga Prefecture of Japan. This model is a favorite among Japanese and Westerner alike. It has wide comfortable handle on either side and its generous size means you can cook stews and rice in it. It also comes with a rice paddle. This model is recommended to be used over open fire.
Japanese Donabe for 4-5 People Mishima Flower
This Donabe Pot is known as a Kamado San. It has beautiful flower design all over the pot making a perfect presentation piece on the table. It is large enough to serve a party of 4-5 people. You can use this pot over direct flame or open fire.
Japanese Donabe Stone Rice Pot with Double Lid
This model is unique because of its double lided design. It acts as a insulation barrier helping it to trap heat inside. You can use it as a rice cooker, stock pot or just a soup pot. Aside from its cooking ability, its one of the coolest looking donabe pots around.
Best Donabe Pots Thoughts
Donabe Pots are a great way of making traditional Japanese food. They are loved for its ability to bring the family together. While most people use it to cook rice, you can use it for stews and even smoking food. There are some unique quirks to be aware of. But if you can get past that, its a fun pot to cook in.
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