Donabe

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Various ingredients in a donabe

Donabe (Japanese: 土鍋, literally "earthenware pot") are pots made out of a special clay[citation needed] for use over an open flame in the Japanese kitchen. Often, the food is cooked right at the table on a gas burner for various nabemono dishes such as shabu-shabu.

The donabe is usually glazed on the inside and porous on the outside. The material is similar to earthenware or stoneware (although normally, earthen- or stoneware pots should usually not be used over an open flame). Donabe however, can be used over an open flame as well as in an oven if three precautions are taken. First, the outside of the donabe should be dry before use, as moisture within the clay will expand in the heat and may chip or crack the pot. Secondly, the pot should be heated gradually to reduce the possibility of cracks due to heat stress. Third, the pot should never be left over the flame while empty.

If properly treated, these pots should last for decades and a few special ones have survived for centuries. When a new donabe is obtained, one should let the donabe boil water for hours and dry before using it for cooking. Other sources suggest that the user should simply fill the donabe with water and let it sit overnight. This process should be repeated if the donabe has been unused for a long time.

In old ryoutei of Kyoto, decades-old donabe would be stored and only used for special guests. Young donabe would be used for preparing lunch menus and food for cooks, to age them for this purpose.

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