A Otoshibuta or a Drop Lid is a makeshift lid often used in Japanese Stews. These lids provide even cooking, reduce the rate of evaporation and keep food in tact. Traditional Otoshibuta uses wood that goes right on top of the stew. However, modern variation might include metal, parchment paper and even silicone. In my opinion, the Best Otoshibuta drop lid are the traditional wooden one but modern one have some advantage.
What is a Otoshibuta?
Otoshibuta is usually a round lid that is slightly smaller than the rim of the pot. This reduces the overall amount of surface area. As a result liquid reduces at a slower rate. Another added benefit is that food wont boil over. Food is simmered more slowly and food tend to stay in tact.
If you compare it with a normal lid, liquid boils rapidly. Using low heat does not fix the issue either. You can try setting a jar but that comes with mixed result.
DIY Drop Lid
A lot of cooks who dont have a dedicated Otoshibuta will make their own version. A common variation is a simple parchment paper. The sides will be cut to fit with the center having a small circle. This lets steam vent without causing it to boil over.
Aluminum foil is used as well. All you need to do is crumple it up and put it over the food. Some people are afraid of aluminum poisoning but unless you have a specific sensitivity to it, you probably wont experience anything. I will say that aluminum can react with acidic food. I wont put it over stuff like tomato stew.
These DIY Otoshibuta are great because you can just toss it after use. But it evens out because you need to make it.
How to use a Otoshibuta
The wooden Otoshibuta needs to be soaked in water prior to use. This prevents it from absorbing the flavor of the stew. Once soaked, set it over your stew and use as you would a lid.
When you are done, remove and wash. Be sure to let it dry thoroughly or else it will crack.
The wooden one are my preferred choice because they dont get hot. However, they are not very durable. If you do not dry for it properly it can crack. Not only that, you need to get the right size model. If you do get one, try to get the Hinoki wood, its the most durable and they are used for a lot of Japanese Cookware.
Metal are another good option. However, they get screaming hot. You need to use a glove when reaching in and often time, the broth soaks it. Not really what you want to eat. The good thing is that most of these are collapsible and fit many different pot. These are pretty hard to find in the states, but the website MTC Kitchen has one.
Silicone is a great alternative. Its more durable and can generally withstand the dishwasher. It can also double as a lid for some bowls.
Best Otoshibuta List
Below you will find a list of some of the Best Otoshibuta and Drop Lid. I have listed it based on categories, choose one that best suits you.
Wooden cooking drop lid (Best Traditional Model)
For a truly authentic Drop Lid buy the one made by NICHI-NICHI. These are made in Japan and uses Hionki wood for durability. The one listed is 7 inches in diameter but you can find them larger or smaller if you need to. The top has a straight handle for easy removal. Remember to soak it in water prior to usage. This prolongs the lifespan.
Marna Zoos Pig’s Drop Lid White (Best Silicone Model)
Dont want to deal with the fussiness of wood. Then silicone is for you. This pig like drop lid is cute and practical. You can use your chop stick to plug the nose and lift it with ease. If you are not skilled with it, you can also grab it by the ears. Since its silicone, it wont get hot like the metal one. Best of all, this doubles as a lid for your bowl.
Drop Lids are great tools for gently cooking stews. They stop soups from boiling over and give a more gentle cooking all around. I prefer using the traditional wooden model. However, they are a little fussy. A good alternative would be the silicone variety. You dont have to prep it and its more durable all around.
Looking for more Lids? Check out our article on the Best Silicone Lid.