Japanese Version

The foodie's foodie, Mora Chartrand-Grant, shares about her donabe.

Donabe closeup
Steve Beimel: Mora—So you finally bought a donabe???
Mora Chartrand-Grant: Yes, and I’m really proud of it. I always come back from Japan with yet another piece of rustic Japanese pottery to add to our home collection, which I regularly use in the kitchen…the crustier and grittier the better. I first spotted the donabe on JapaneseFoodReport.com. This donabe…made of Iga ware…has a sensuous balance between the black glazed portion and the rough butternut-colored clay. While in Kyoto last December, I found the exact same donabe at Gungendo, my favorite clothing and households goods store. It was destiny! Only 2 days in-country, and there I was, “donabe love sick” at Gungendo. I didn’t care what it cost. It was going home with me.
SB: How is a donabe different from a hot pot?
MC: A rice donabe is slightly different from a donabe for hot pot cooking because it has an inner lid with 2 steam venting holes toward the lid edge. The outer lid that is dome-shaped has only one vent hole. The diagrams in the care/use guide made it clear that there is a very specific way to position the two lids…I love this Japanese care for detail. Also, the rice donabe is deeper and narrower than the hot pot.
SB: Did you need to prepare it before using it?
MC: You must “season” the donabe before ever using by making a rice porridge and then leaving it to cool in the donabe for several hours. The very fine rice starch particles fill the glaze and seal it.
SB: Can we eat yet?
MC: Right. I couldn’t wait to cook my first pot of rice. I bought a bag of new crop Koshihikari haiga (rice with the nutritious germ left on). Only the best rice was going into my donabe. I followed the instructions exactly and used my instinct for adjusting the gas stove. My reward was perfectly cooked rice with a light caramel-colored okoge crust at the bottom. The world came to a stop when I had my first bite. I had recreated the taste and texture of the best rice I’d had in Japan…well almost, but it was darn close. Japanese rice and water really are superior. For just a moment I was transported back to the days of old to the kitchen of a Japanese minka country house. Yes, I had arrived. I had made real rice.

Donabe inner lid

Okoge in Donabe

Okoge Closeup

Photos courtesy of Linda Grant

5 thoughts on “The foodie's foodie, Mora Chartrand-Grant, shares about her donabe.

  1. Sherry Page

    Mora, I love the description of your donabe. I can’t believe how beautiful the cooker and the rice look in these photos! I have been looking for the perfect rice cooker, and it looks as if this may be it. Thanks, too, for the tip on the kind of rice to use in it.

  2. Helen Hasenfeld


    I love your love of your new donabe! And the photographs of the rice are yummy. I can really taste the delicious crusty bottom.

    Congratulations on the new addition to your kitchen equipment. Looks like you found a winner!

    Helen Hasenfeld

  3. Mike McFarland

    What!! How did I miss this. I finally see the donabe I had heard about. Wow. Looks great.. good pictures.. I can almost smell the rice now. I have had okoge but I thought it was a pleasant gaijin mistake. Thanks for the article.

  4. Jenn

    Wow…great read. Thanks for sharing. The rice looks beautiful.

    I am curious to know how much a donabe of this quality cost in Japan? Thanks.