How to season donabe
This is a one-time simple step before starting to use your donabe for the first time.
Because Iga-style donabe is made of porous clay, without seasoning the donabe, it might cause leaking or cracking(**). Therefore, we suggest that you season the donabe by making the porridge in it. It might sound like an extra step, but it’s just a simple procedure in order for your donabe to last for many, many years.
**There are certain types of donabe, such as Ibushi Gin and Fukkura-san which don't need to be seasoned before the first use, and they are noted so in their instruction sheets. These donabe are designed for extra high-heat dry cooking and special types of Iga clay and glaze are used.
How to season Iga Donabe
- Make sure the outer bottom of the donabe is dry before starting the process.
- Pour the water to about 70% of the donabe, and add cooked rice. The cooked rice must be at least 1/5 of the volume of the water. If you are using the frozen left-over rice, make sure the rice is defrosted (by microwave is okay). Stir the water and rice thoroughly.
- Cover the donabe with lid and cook the rice over low to medium-low heat. Once the mixture starts to simmer (approximately after 20-30 minutes for a medium-size donabe), uncover and keep the heat at low (the mixture should simmer, not boil). Continue to cook until the mixture becomes almost like paste. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom is not burned. *Make sure not to let the mixture boil. If you boil, the hot mixture can splash out of the pot and it’s dangerous. *Use the proper protection (such as pot holders or oven mitten) when handling the pot (including the lid) when it’s heated, as the donabe can get very hot.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool down for about 1 hour.
- Remove the rice mixture from the donabe. Rinse the donabe thoroughly and let it dry completely before using it for the first time.
You can use the leftover rice for seasoning the donabe.
Put the rice and water in the donabe and stir until the rice grains fall apart.
Once the porridge is near-boiling, turn down the heat to simmer and continue to cook without the lid on.
Once the porridge becomes almost like a paste, turn off the heat and let it cool down.