Use of this website is subject to mandatory arbitration and other terms and conditions, select this link to read those agreements.

How To Season Your Donabe (Earthenware Pot)

Discussion
  • This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for details. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Commonly used for hot pot dishes such as shabu-shabu, Donabe (Japanese earthenware pot) is made out of special clay and it’s one of Japan’s oldest cooking utensils. Today I’ll show you how to season and care for Donabe.

    Donabe

    During the winter months, the Japanese enjoy many kinds of hot pot dishes and we call them Nabe (鍋) or Nabemono (鍋物).

    The most popular ones are Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki, and some of my favorite regional nabe includes Kiritanpo from Akita prefecture and Ishikari Nabe from Hokkaido. There are many regional recipes that I haven’t tried and I hope one day I’ll get to try many of the regional nabe dishes in Japan.

    Many Japanese nabe dishes are cooked in Donabe (土鍋), a Japanese earthenware pot. These pots are available overseas as well. Since I received some questions from my readers about how to use and take care of them, I’ll go over some of the key points about donabe today.

    Tablesetup for shabu shabu - donabe hot pot, vegetables, meat, udon, and dipping sauces.

    What is Donabe?

    Made of special clay, donabe is a century-old cooking utensil in Japan. In the modern days, these unique clay pots are most commonly used for hot pot dishes such as Shabu Shabu, but they are essentially a highly versatile tool for everyday cooking. Donabe is excellent for making soups, stews, and braised dishes, but you can also use it for steaming, roasting, or cooking the most amazing rice you’ve ever had.

    Donabe holds heat exceptionally, which makes it an ideal vessel for cooking dishes that require liquid and long cooking. It is essentially the ultimate one-pot wonder and I think it also has the best capability in cooking rice.

    What Size Donabe is Good for 4 People?

    I recommend a 12 inch (30 cm) donabe for 4 servings. The single pot (1 serving) diameter is 6.5 inches (16.5cm) and can hold 2 cups (500 ml).

    Donabe for Coil Top Electric Stove

    Donabe

    Typically, a donabe can be used only on an open flame (gas stove), and if you have an electric gas stove, you have to buy a portable butane gas burner to use it. Unlike conventional donabe, this Kikka Blue Donabe Casserole can be used on the coil top electric cooktop (but not IH).

    Donabe

    And it requires no pre-seasoning before use! It’s also microwave/oven-safe!

    How To Season Donabe

    When you purchase a brand new donabe and takes it out of the box, you have to season it before using it. We call this process Medome (目止め) in Japanese. Why does it need seasoning? Because the pot is made from clay, the material is naturally porous.

    To address this, starch from rice or flour will fill microscopic pores in the pot and it helps prevent breakage and damage by heat, as well as preventing smell and stain from cooking food. Therefore, this medome process helps to keep your donabe life longer.

    We have 3 ways to do it. They are typically 4-6 serving sizes so I’ll be using this size for the demonstration.

    Method 1: Season with Rice Water (Before First Use)

    1. Rinse rice as you always do. Add rice (I use 2 rice cooker cups here) in a large bowl, gently rub the rice between fingers under cold running water. For this seasoning process, DO NOT discard the rice water.How To Season Donabe 1
    2. Fill the pot to about 80% with rice water. Rice water is the water from first rinsing the rice.
      How To Season Donabe 2
    3. Bring to a boil on medium-low heat and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
      How To Season Donabe 3
    4. Let the water cool to room temperature naturally.
    5. Once you can touch it with your bare hands and water is close to room temperature, discard the water and rinse with water
    6. Dry it with a clean cloth and allow to air dry completely overnight before first use or storing.

    Method 2: Season with Cooked Rice (When Restoring)

    1. Fill the donabe to about 80% with water.
    2. Add 1 bowl of cooked rice.
    3. Bring to boil on medium-low heat and cook the porridge on low heat for 20 minutes.
    4. Let the porridge cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
    5. Discard the porridge and rinse with water.
    6. Dry it with a clean cloth and allow to air dry completely overnight before first use or storing.

    Method 3: Season with Flour

    1. Fill the pot to about 80% with water.
    2. Add 2 Tbsp. flour or potato starch and mix well.
    3. Bring to boil on medium-low heat and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
    4. Let the water cool to room temperature naturally.
    5. Discard the water and rinse with water.
    6. Dry it with a clean cloth and allow to air dry completely overnight before first use or storing.

    How to Season a Donabe

    How To Use and Care for Donabe

    Donabe is fragile, especially with the quick temperature change. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the heat when using it.

    • Don’t heat up without food or liquid inside.
    • Avoid rapid temperature change.
    • When using, make sure the bottom surface is dry.
    • When the pot is still hot, don’t pour or soak in cold water.
    • The best cooking heat is medium heat or lower.
    • Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to low to keep cooking.

    How To Wash Donabe

    You can’t wash your donabe with soap because it has good absorbency. For the same reason, you shouldn’t soak it even though the food is stuck on the bottom. Wash your donabe with a soft sponge in warm water.

    The best way to clean the pot is the following.

    1. Let it cool down first.
    2. If you really need to use soap, use a small amount of soap, and quickly rinse with water.
    3. Immediately dry with a clean cloth once you wash.

    Kamado-san Donabe

    How To Fix Hair Cracks

    It is normal to have hair cracks. When you see hair cracks, you will need season the pot. Season with cooked rice works the best as cooked rice has more starch and is thicker, and it will fill in the pores nicely. If the water still leaks, you’ll need to purchase a new one.

    What To Do When Donabe Is Burnt

    No matter how careful you’re, you might end up burning the pot from the food you’re cooking inside. This is a helpful tip to get rid of a stain or burnt. Sometimes it requires to do a few times.

    1. Keep the warm water and let it soak or bring water to a boil.
    2. Turn off the heat and let it cool naturally.
    3. Once cooled, discard the water and gently scrub the burnt area with a soft sponge.

    How To Remove Smell

    Donabe has a lot of small pores and they might absorb smell from cooking certain food, here’s what you can do to remove it:

    Method 1: Used Tea Leaves

    1. Put water and used tea leaves in your donabe and boil.
    2. Let it sit for 30 minutes
    3. Rinse in water.

    Method 2: Baking Soda

    1. Bring water inside the pot to boil and turn off.
    2. Add baking soda and set aside for 30 minutes.
    3. Rinse in water.

    Donabe

    Recipes that You Can Use Donabe For

    Here are some of the hot pot recipes that I have on my blog (and I’m adding more!).

    A Japanese donabe containing kimchi stew filled with vegetables and kimchi.

    Kimchi Nabe

    Tablesetup for shabu shabu - donabe hot pot, vegetables, meat, udon, and dipping sauces.

    Shabu Shabu

    A donabe containing fish cakes and fish balls simmered in soy sauce-based dashi broth.

    Oden (Fish Cake Stew)

    Donabe containing udon noodles, chicken, fish cake, mushrooms, and vegetables in a flavorful soup broth

    Nabeyaki Udon

    A Japanese earthenware pot (donabe) containing Mizutaki (Japanese Chicken Hot Pot) filled with chicken, tofu, mushrooms, and all kinds of vegetables.

    Mizutaki (Chicken Hot Pot)

    A Japanese earthenware pot (Donabe) containing vegetables, tofu, and pork cooked in sesame and miso based soup broth.

    Sesame Miso Hot Pot

  • Just One Cookbook Essential Japanese Recipes

    Love Our Recipes?

    Leave A Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    What type of comment do you have?

    Discussion

  • Linda wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Melissa S wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Eileen F wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Eileen F wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
  • Pamela Menapace wrote:
  • Stefania wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Nick wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Rie wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Amby wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Amby wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
  • Barb Keating wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Vanessa Vanier wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • erica wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Lorene wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Lion wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Lion wrote:
  • Aubrey Angeles wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Aubrey Angeles wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
  • elisa wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Bharri wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Sherly wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Jane wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Omi wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Barbara Gini wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Barbara wrote:
  • Jayashri wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • ena wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Leena wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
    • Sophie wrote:
      • Nami wrote:
  • Carole Pratt wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Valeria wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Ania wrote:
  • ジャスミン wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Mei wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Lia wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Joyce Rose wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Joyce wrote:
  • hmucha wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • hmucha wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
  • Cristiana wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Susie wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Mariel Tucker wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Gina M. Correa wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Gina M. Correa wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
          • Gina Correa wrote:
            • Nami wrote:
  • Ann Arakawa wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Brandi wrote:
  • Bev wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Jasmine wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Luci wrote:
    • Naomi @ Just One Cookbook wrote:
      • Luci wrote:
        • Naomi @ Just One Cookbook wrote:
  • Junie wrote:
    • Naomi @ Just One Cookbook wrote:
  • Gyoza served on a plate.
    Just One Cookbook logo
    Just One Cookbook logo

    free email series

    5 Secrets to Japanese Cooking

    Making flavorful Japanese food is

    EASIER than you think.

    You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.