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Donabe: The Ultimate Rice Cooker (Plus a Recipe)

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Donabe: The Ultimate Rice Cooker (Plus a Recipe)

March 5, 2013

Christine might have the ultimate Rice Cooker, but take note, donabe are the original rice cookers, the traditional clay cook pot used in Japan long before the advent of the electric version. Blame it on the likes of Momofuku or the resurgence of Korean cuisine, but clay pot cooking is gaining ground stateside.

We checked in with Naoko Moore, a Tokyo native who lives in Los Angeles and sells a line of traditional Japanese Iga Yaki pots, a type of pottery that dates back to 1832. We asked Moore, who gives classes in clay pot cooking, to share an easy recipe with us. Read on to learn how to make “dirty rice” (it’s good).

700 donabe pots array

Above: A selection of clay pots from Toiro Kitchen. The clay used for the pots comes from 4-million-year-old earth layers from the Iga region in Japan.

Donabe The Ultimate Rice Cooker Plus a Recipe portrait 4

Above: The Kamado-san donabe rice cooker comes in four sizes ranging from a 1-cup size for $120 to a 6-cup size for $325.

700 donabe with rice

Above: Rice cooked in a Kamado-san; the clay pots can be used on top of the stove or in the oven (perfect for going straight from oven to table).

Naoko Moore’s recipe for Donabe Gobo Gohan, also known as “dirty” rice.

One of my favorite earthy dishes is burdock root (“gobo”) rice made in a double-lid donabe rice cooker, the Kamado-san. I call it “dirty rice,” because this aromatic root vegetable makes the rice so earthy both in flavor and color. To make this dish:

  • First, pulse the burdock root in a food processor until it’s coarsely minced, about the same size as a rice grain.
  • Spread over the rice.
  • Instead of water, add dashi stock and seasoning to the rice and cook.

I like to serve the rice with some sautéed Japanese turnip “kabu” leaves. If you can’t find kabu leaves, another leafy green such as dandelion or kale would work well, too.

Feel free to share any easy clay pot recipes with us in the comments below. Like the flavor of earthy clay pots? Here are five Clay Pots that we love.

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