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Donabe

Donabe

donabe

mizutaki

Mizutaki is a typical hot pot dish.

A donabe is a thick Japanese clay pot, which is used to cook a hot pot. It can be cooked on stove top. But once the food is cooked, the pot can be moved to the table and act as a serving pot. People at the table take food from the pot individually.

Hot pot is very popular in Japan particularly in cold winter months. It’s warm, quick, easy, economical, communal, and the ultimate one pot cooking. In our household, we cook donabe dish about once a week in winter.

Hot pot is cooked with meat (chicken) or sea food, vegetables, mushrooms, and noodles in dashi broth. Some recipe add flavors to the soup itself, but others use dipping sauce. Traditional ones are mizutaki, yudofu (tofu warmed up in kombu dashi), stewed udon noodles, yosenabe, etc. And because of its popularity, new recipes are constantly being added, such as tomato-nabe, soy milk-nabe, kimchi-nabe, curry-nabe. I will be introducing those recipes on my site. But the bottom line is there is no wrong way to prepare nabemono.

Other than using a donabe for hot pot, it can can be used to cook rice. I have a basic congee recipe here. As it doesn’t have any timer or thermostat attached, you have to adjust the amount of water and heat manually in old fashion way. But rice made in donabe tastes really delicious. I’ve also seen a French cooking cheese fondu in a donabe.

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Rice cooked in donabe tastes great.

Donabe is thick, heavy and durable. It can take direct heat, and won’t break or crack easily. But if you heat it when the outside of the vessel is wet, it cracks. So that make sure to wipe off the outside before setting it on stove.

But even if you crack it, don’t panic. As long as water doesn’t leak, you can repair it by cooking rice in it. Simmer a handful of uncooked rice with a potful of water until the rice grains disappear. Leave it for 24 hours and let the glue seeps into the crack to repair the damage. If water leaks, you can’t cook with it any longer, unfortunately.

When you buy a donabe, make sure to buy the right size for your household. Look for the indication of how many people can be served by it. You can find a donabe at Japanese stores. I am not certain other Asian stores carry it. If you can’t find, here are the online links of donabe;

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27 Responses to Donabe

  1. Cali December 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    Hello

    I have a donabe pot but was wondering if it’s safe to cook lemon or tomato based dishes in them? Will the acidic foods mess up the clay

    • Yuki December 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

      Hi Cali, Donabe is safe to cook acidic food. Acid doesn’t cause any chemical reaction to donabe. Actually, tomato nabe is very popular in Japan.

  2. Rose April 2, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Hi Yuki-san, I own a small donabe that I got as a gift and not knowing how to use it, I ended up creating a crack in the pot! This was many yrs ago and I didn’t use it for cooking anymore, but for holding salads and such. Now I will try your remedy of cooking rice in it to try and do a repair job. In the meantime, I recently got another donabe pot and am very nervous. I want to be clear on the usage: it’s for braising and not for sauteing? Should I soak the nabe in water before using as a way of seasoning the nabe? Thank you for whatever help you can give me!

    • Yuki April 2, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      Hi Rose, Don’t season a donabe like a cast iron pan. As you suspected, it’s not for sauteing or frying. Even if you try, it doesn’t do a good job, because the vessel transfers heat very slowly. A donabe is mainly for soupy stuff, but some people bake bread and cakes in it without using an oven. And good luck with mending the old cracked donabe.

      • Rose April 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

        Thank you for replying so quickly. 😀 So, I don’t need to soak it in water before I begin to use it? I wondered because although the inside and the cover is coated with a glaze, the bottom is still unglazed. It made me feel like I’m supposed to soak it first. Do you have a recommended recipe esp. for using a donabe? I would appreciate it if you would educate me on this.
        = ^_ ^ =

        • Yuki April 2, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

          No need to soak it in water before using it. Actually, better not to, because when outside of donabe is wet, it cracks. So that always wipe outside of donabe before put it on the stove. It can take direct heat. As to your cracked donabe, I assume it doesn’t leak. If it leaks it can’t be fixed any longer. If it’s just a crack, put a grab of uncooked rice in the cracked donabe with pot full of water. Simmer until the grains of rice melts, and leave it for 24 hours. I have some recipes using donabe. See http://japanese-kitchen.net/yudofu-bathed-tofu-recipe/, and http://japanese-kitchen.net/mizutaki-simple-nabemono-recipe/. Also cooking udon noodles with soup base in a donabe is popular.

          • Rose April 2, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

            Oh, thank you for telling me that. I shall have to try it. When I saw the crack I was too scared to try using it on the stove. I hope your recommendation works.

      • Rose April 2, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

        Okay! I went ‘cruising’ through your recipes and found an oden recipe that seems perfect for donabe cooking. I shall keep reading to find more recipes. Thank you for your patience!

  3. Anthony April 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    I noticed that you mentioned that the donabe can take direct heat. Would that mean it is safe to use on an electric stove, or is a gas stove the safest form of heating it up? I got myself a cast iron hot pot instead because I was unsure, but would still like to get an earthenware one.

    • Yuki April 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

      A donabe is safe to use on a gas stove and a coil electric stove, but better not to use on an induction stove, because rough bottom of the cooking vessel may scratch the glass surface of an induction stove. Before setting a donabe on a stove, wipe off the moisture outside of the donabe to prevent accidental cracking. Happy donabe cooking!

      • Anthony April 13, 2014 at 1:00 am #

        Thank you for the help!

  4. Jan Iwata February 18, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

    Please advise what to do when the inner donabe lid has cracked in more than one place. How it is replaced? I’ve repaired with Super Glue every 4 months or so, but am getting tired of doing so. I can’t seem to find where that is sold separate from the cooking pot, and donabe lid. Please advise. I don’t need a brand new pot. These ceremic ware is durable! Thanks!

    • Yuki February 19, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      Hi Jan,
      I’ve never had that experience actually, but according to some Japanese who had that same problem, they recommended epoxy glue, which comes in two different tubes and mix them just before using. That’s the most suitable and strongest to fix the earthenware lid. But once it’s cracked or broken, it may be cracked or broken again at the same weak spot. Unlike the pot itself, the lid can’t cook rice in it to mend itself. Unfortunately, you may need to give it up eventually.

  5. kim June 27, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    can a rice cooker ‘kamado san’
    be used for making soups?

    • Yuki June 28, 2015 at 3:35 am #

      Hi Kim, I don’t know about kamado san, as I’ve never used it. But if you can cook rice, you should be able to make soup.

  6. Anne July 30, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    Hi Yuki,

    You say that a donabe can be used on an electric coil stove, but have you or anyone else you know ever tried it? If so, what were the results? The only reason I bring this up is because I would like to start cooking with a donabe, but I have an electric stove and everything I’ve heard from other sources say that donabes can’t be used on electric stove tops.

    Would using a diffuser (a metal plate that goes over the electric coil and acts as a buffer, reducing the intensity of the heat) work? I don’t want to buy a donabe and end up breaking it in my first attempt at using it!

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Yuki July 30, 2015 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Anne,
      I’ve never personally used a donabe over an electric coil type stoves. But I remember that my parents used to have a portable coil style table top stove, and we were heating a donabe over it in winter. I also researched on the Japanese Q&A sites, and see consistent answers that a donabe will not break when it is heated over electric coil stoves. The stoves you should avoid using a donabe over are glass top type stoves, because the rough surface of a donabe would damage the glass. You can’t use a donabe on induction heating type stoves either. To avoid cracking a donabe, you have to wipe moisture off from the exterior surface before start heating, but that is you always have to do before using a donabe on any kind of stoves. I hope it helps.

      • Pamela September 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

        Yuki, can I use it for make homemade yogurt. No heating involve. Planning to put it inside the oven with the light on for 24 hours to more.

        Thanks

  7. Anne August 7, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Yuki,

    A belated thanks for your information. I will buy a donable somtime this week and start experimenting, though I will use a diffuser with it – just to be on the safe side.

  8. Julia Coe September 16, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

    About the lid not being getting the advantage of the cooked rice seasoning for mending. One could try submerging the lid in a bigger pot, metal even, with the slushy rice. See if that works. Also, is superglue foodsafe?

    • Yuki September 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

      Hi Julia,
      Superglue is not safe for the purpose.

  9. Huyen May 29, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

    Hi Yuki,
    Please confirm if there are any type of Donabe can use Induction Cooker? If yes, please advise the name?

    As I am really confused now 🙁

    The link I find from Amazon, which with title is use for Induction Cooker: http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Ceramic-Saucepan-Induction-Cooker-Tagine/dp/B009QB1P12

    I am not sure this is only one type of Donabe can use with Induction cooker or all of Donabe as the link below from yakimono: http://www.yakimono.or.jp/en/pottery_info/donabe

    Yakimono stated that “Donabe are not recommended for use on electric stoves because the heat is too intense” but “Induction cooktop-compatible donabe”

    Hope to receive your quick respond,
    Thanks

  10. bharri March 5, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

    Bought earthenware cooking pot yesterday I just want to ask if this can be use both on a top of electric stove (Electric Coil) .I am excited to use this.

    • bharri March 5, 2017 at 7:31 pm #

      Bought earthenware cooking pot yesterday. I just want to ask if this can be use on a top of electric stove (Electric Coil) .I am excited to use this.

    • Yuki March 6, 2017 at 12:37 am #

      Hi Bharri,

      Yes, you can use donabe on top of coil type electric stove. Enjoy donabe cooking!

      • bharri March 6, 2017 at 1:41 am #

        Can i make fried items on earthenware pot?

        • Yuki March 6, 2017 at 9:58 am #

          Earthenware pot shouldn’t be used for deep fry, because the pot itself can absorb oil and it may ignite to cause fire.