Many a cold winter’s night has been survived in Japan with a nice hot pot of something good cooked in a donabe. I’ll add some recipes later but the most important thing about a donabe is to learn to care for it.
The donabe is a clay pot. It can be used right on an open flame but you have to make sure the exterior of the pot is completely dry before it gets heated. Otherwise, the material may expand and crack the pot. Yikes.
The interior is usually coated so one can put liquids in there but please make sure that you do not start cooking anything on here with a very high flame. This pot is not for flash cooking! It’s for slow cooking stews and soups.
And please make sure there is some liquid in there when you have it on the flame. You don’t want to heat it up empty.
When you first get a donabe, some places will tell you to boil water in it for a long time and let it dry completely before using it for the first time. I’ve seen other places where they tell you to actually cook some leftover rice in it with water, making a porridge. After an hour, let it cool, throw out the rice and rinse the donabe out. Dry with cloth and let it air dry completely before using it the first time. Other manufacturers suggest simply let some water sit in it overnight before using it. And if you haven’t used it in a while, it may be a good idea to retreat this way.
But the reward for all this care in handling your donabe? Good home cooked comfort food!
All our donabe can be used on an open flame with some liquid in the pot. Please note only the base is oven proof.