I first learned about Donabe cookware about three years ago from a local blog I followed. The article talked about the cookware but it was essentially focused on Naoko Moore, the owner of The Toiro Kitchen who gives cooking demonstrations with Donabe cookware at her home in Echo Park. I registered for one of her cooking classes and spent a Saturday in her cozy kitchen learning all about how to cook rice in the rice cooker and how to cook a whole meal in the stovetop smoker.
Afterwards all the class participants sat around Naoko’s dining table and ate a delicious Japanese meal. I was so impressed with Naoko’s enthusiasm for this cookware that is not only beautiful but incredibly versatile, I bought the Komado San rice cooker and the Donabe stovetop smoker.
The donabe cookware is made in Iga, Japan. Iga is an ancient province located about 250 miles south-west of Tokyo. Iga style pottery is considered to be one of the most highly regarded regional potteries of Japan. It is made with clay that is porous and has a high absorbency and heat retention properties. Each Donabe is made by hand and takes about 2 weeks to make.
The rice cooker makes the most delicious rice. It comes out shiny and fluffy, and it’s so easy to prepare. It tastes better than rice cooked any other way.
One of my favorite rice dishes is one I learned at Naoko’s cooking class that I eat anytime I am in the mood for Japanese comfort food. It is white or brown short grain rice cooked in the Kamado-san rice cooker and when it is done, leave the rice in the cooker and mix in 2 tablespoons of good butter and let it melt into the rice, 1/4 cup soy sauce and the zest of a medium orange. Stir into the rice and serve it right from the Donabe rice cooker.
If you are looking for an interesting and unique cooking experience, check out Naoko’s website for class schedules. However I believe classes for 2015 have been put on hold because she is working on a Donabe cookbook. Her website also includes the Donabe pottery and other items like a Tofu making kit that she sells online and a fantastic library of Asian recipes.