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Japanese Clay Pot Donabe User Guide

The donabe has many traditional uses, including rice, soup, and shabu-shabu. Used for generations with a time-tested design, the donabe can withstand extreme heat and an open flame.

Same as other types of cookware, donabe is also subject to certain limitations and needs to be properly used and maintained. With some care, a good donabe may become a treasured family heirloom.

Please be sure to read all the instructions before the first use, including "important note" at the end of the page.

Click here to view all donabe recipes. 

Understand the nature of donabe Japanese clay pot

  • Donabe is breakable. Please use it with care and avoid extreme temperature changes. Seasoning only prevents the pot from absorbing food odors; it does not prevent the donabe from breaking or cracking as a result of mishandling.
  • Users need basic cooking skills, like proper heat control and checking food periodically during the cooking process to prevent scorching the inside of the pot. Please beware that a clay pot performs with high heat.
  • Brands make donabe with glazed surfaces and tell customers they do not need to season them. In our experience, it is best to season them.
  • Once you start using a donabe, the pot changes colour and black spots could appear. That is the sign of a grown-up doabe. In Japan, it is something to be proud of if you have owned a donabe for a long time.
  • Donabe pots, particularly traditional Iga donabe that lack modern treatments, are prone to cracking. If cracks are visible in the image below, consider them merely as indicators of the pot's aging process. Continuing to use it is perfectly fine. For more information on using Iga donabe, click here. Please ensure you also refer to the following instructions.
  • IH indicates the item is induction cooktop compatible. Insert the stainless steel plate on the bottom (interior) of the pot for induction cooking.
  • Keep out of reach of children.

The best way to season a donabe for the first use. 

When you get a new donabe, the first thing you should do is cook some rice porridge or boil some rice rinsing water in it. The starch in the rice is supposed to help seal the interior. Any mixture of starch and water will do, such as corn or potato starch dissolved in water and heated gently. This method has also been used traditionally in Japan.

One of the donabe's characteristics is water absorbency. Water absorbency can cause stains, odor, or mold. Please be sure to complete the treatment below before using an donabe for the first time.

The first method (please note these steps and refer to the video above)

  • This method is more popular in Asian countries where rice porridge is a common dish.
  • Fill the donabe about 70% to 80% with water.
  • Add about half a cup of rice to the donabe.
  • Set the heat to low. Put the lid on.
  • To prevent scorching, stir it occasionally.
  • Cook for about 30 minutes or until bubbling appears around the lid. Then turn off the heat.
  • It is best to let the rice porridge sit overnight. Dispose of the porridge on the next day.
  • Wash the pot. Then dry it completely before use.

The second method 

  • Fill the donabe with clean water (about 80% full). 
  • Add 2 tablespoons of wheat flour mixed with water into the pot and mix it well.
  • Bring the water to the boil. 
  • When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat.
  • Simmer over low heat for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pot as is until it has completely cooled.
  • Wash the pot. Then dry it completely before use.

How to prevent the donabe from becoming moldy or having an odor

  • After each use, please dry the donabe thoroughly and store it in a dry space to prevent mold or mildew.
  • For the first 5 uses, please avoid leaving food and ingredients inside the pot after cooking. This will help to season the pot for many years of use.
  • Please also avoid using curry, kimuchi, or similar seasoned foods for the first 5 uses. This will help to prevent discoloration and odors in the future.
  • Avoid soaking the donabe in detergent water. Wash and rinse only.

How to prevent the food inside from being scorched

  • Please be careful when using high heat. Stir the food being cooked occasionally to prevent scorching the inside of the pot. 
  • If food is burnt, adding hot water and bringing it to a boil will soften the burned food and make it easier to remove. Then use a scrub brush to gently remove any final remnants. You may refer to the following links for more information.
  • The heat produced by clay pots is high. It is suitable for stews and soups. Deep frying and frying in clay pots is NOT recommended.

General use and care

  • This item is breakable and requires care.
  • The donabe is not dishwasher-safe. It must be hand-washed.
  • The donabe is not suitable for fridge.
  • To prevent damage to the clay, avoid soaking the donabe for a long time in soap or scrubbing it too harshly.
  • To prevent a fire, do not use the pot for deep-fried cooking.
  • Always use a trivet before placing the pot on a table or counter.

How to avoid burns

  • Always use oven mitts to lift and carry the pot.
  • Please note that steam escaping from the hole in the lid can be very hot.

How to avoid damage

  • Avoid heating an empty donabe.
  • Avoid extreme and sudden heat/cold change. 

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