It’s exciting to get a brand-new handmade donabe. But before you can start cooking with it, there’s a simple step to take that will help keep your donabe in good shape for the rest of its life. This preparation is called ‘seasoning’ your donabe. In this donabe seasoning guide, we’ll take you through the steps needed to prepare your donabe for everyday use.
Seasoning your donabe usually means cooking a kind of rice porridge in it. The starch from the rice dissolves in the water and coats the sides of your donabe, filling up the microscopic pores with starches. This helps your donabe to become more flexible as the clay expands and contracts with heat, and reduces the chances of cracking.
Donabes for grilling and smoking do not need to be seasoned.
1. Gather your tools.
First, it’s good to get everything together. You’ll need some precooked white rice to begin with. The quality doesn’t matter, so you can make it in a pot or with an instant packet. Either way, it should be enough to fill about 15% of your donabe. You’ll also need cold water to fill 70% of your donabe. To find the exact measurements of rice and water for your donabe, please look at the table below:
Aside from these, you’ll also need a wooden spoon, and of course – your new donabe. You’ll need to make sure your donabe is completely dry on the outside before you put it over the fire, or it may crack.
2. Make some porridge
Put the rice and water in your donabe and heat it on a low to medium-low heat. Put the top lid on your donabe and bring it to simmer. This can take about ten or twenty minutes. Be careful when check the water, as your donabe will become very hot. Always handle your donabe with a kitchen towel or oven mitts.
Once it has begun to simmer, reduce the heat a little and uncover the mix. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally to prevent anything sticking to the bottom. Eventually, it will turn into a thick, pasty mixture similar to porridge. This process will take about an hour for a medium sized donabe, and will be less for smaller donabes and more for bigger ones.
Once you have your porridge, turn the heat off and let the donabe cool for an hour or so.
3. You’re ready to go!
That’s it! Take the rice out. You can eat it with honey, cinammon, and fruit, if you’d like. Or you can simply throw it out. Either way, remove the porridge from the donabe, and wash it thoroughly with the soft side of a sponge and soap. Let it dry, and voilà! It’s ready for use.