By Naoko Takei Moore
And Kyle Connaughton
Published by Ten Speed Press
307 Pages HB

Back Cover: Japanese clay pot (donabe) cooking has been refined over centuries into a versatile and simple method for preparing both dramatic and comforting one-pot meals. In Donabe, Tokyo native and cooking school instructor Naoko Takei Moore and chef Kyle Connaughton offer inspiring Japanese home-style recipes such as Sizzling Tofu and Mushrooms in Miso Sauce and Dashi-Rich Shabu-Shabu, as well as California-inspired dishes including Steam-Fried Black Cod with Crisp Potatoes, Leeks, and Walnut-Nori Pesto or Smoked Duck Breast with Creamy Wasabi–Green Onion Dipping Sauce. All are rich in flavor, simple to prepare, and perfect for a communal dining experience with family and friends. Donabe also features recipes from luminary chefs such as David Kinch, Namae Shinobu, and Cortney Burns and Nick Balla, all of whom use donabe in their own kitchens. Collectible, beautiful, and functional, donabe can easily be an essential part of your cooking repetory.

REVIEW: “Donabe is a Japanese traditional earthen cookware. It’s designed to be used over a gas or open flame. Over its long history donabe has become an important part of Japanese cuisine and it’s these vessels.”

There is a section on how to season and care for Donabe. Cooking safety. How to use the book. In the recipes the traditional Japanese rice measurement are used with conversion charts…other non-rice measurements, this book uses US measurements with metric equivalent given in parenthesis…Many of the ingredients in book maybe new to you. There is an extensive glossary at the back that describes these ingredients and offers guidance on where you can buy them.

The author says this about the food cooked in a Donabe pot; “It’s rich in flavor, simple to prepare and perfect for a communal dining experience with family and friends.” When I ordered this book I didn’t realize that every recipe is designed to be cooked in this pot. I looked up the cost of the Donabe pots on Amazon they range from $60.00 and some can go over $100.00 (those are the ones listed on the authors store site which are hand crafted and are made in Iga.)

Donabe cooking has always been important to author Naoko, close to her heart as she originally used it to make hot-pot dishes. She says, “On one of my trips back home many years ago, I toasted rice made in a double-lid donabe. It was one of the most striking food discoveries I’ve ever experienced. That simple, plain rice toasted so good I almost cried.”

In 2008 the author started distributing pots to people in the US so others could have the same experience cooking with this amazing pot as she did. The Nagatami family makes the pots she distributes. She states, “I discovered that Donabe ware has the mysterious quality of bringing out the natural flavors of ingredients, helping them realize their higher potential.” …”There is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon: it’s because of the natural characteristics of donabe, their porous bodies that promote natural far-infrared radiant heating. The effect is just like cooking on a grill using glowing charcoals, a process that cooks food gradually and traps flavors inside, started donabe cooking classes. She wanted to share her passion. She found is interesting that mostly non-Asian people brought the pots and came to her classes. “the author’s mission to spread the word about the Japanese healthy lifestyle and authentic washoku home cooking, “Many typical donabe dishes are typically one-pot dishes, meant to be served at the table right out of the pot. As a result, preparation and clean up tend to be easier compared with using other cookware. Donabe cooking is convenient for busy people who want to eat tasty nourishing meals at home.”

“This cookbook features cooking in 6 styles of donabe pots, Classic, Rice cooker, soup and stew, steamer, tangine style and smoker.” Recipes in the book include popular ones from her cooking classes. There is a section for Dashi, sauces and condiments. This is an amazing hard back book filled with beautiful color pictures that make this book one you’ll want to read as well as make the recipes.

Kyle Connaughton is the co author. He says, “I’ve been fortunate to cook all over the world with chef’s I respect and with other professionals who care deeply about food and hospitality…Love for Japanese cuisine and passion for hospitality.”…”Donabe is an amazing and beautiful technology that has stood the test of time because of its functional properties…naoko-san has been my teacher and guide into the greater world of donabe, and we decided as a team to share this amazing world with you.”

Kyle stated;  “Donabe can be used in all types of cuisines, as our guest chefs and I will show through our recipes…I use donabe for soups and braises to simmer vegetables, and to smoke meat….“Because donabe builds heat slowly, it allows the flavors of a dish to build gradually…When a dish is higher in natural umami flavor, less seasoning and less fat are needed to complete the flavors. We like to say that donabe is a friendly cookware for health-conscious people.”…”Donabe ware is known for its remarkable heat retention. It cools down slowly, so it stays warm on the table for a long time…Donabe is an energy-efficent and eco-friendly cooking vessel because, once heated, it requires little energy to function.”

There is a section on IGA Home of authentic donabe with amazing pictures on how these pots are created…”Iga offers a number of premium local artisan specialties such as rice, sake, beef, port, and rope making in addition to its famous Iga-yaki pottery…History of Iga-Yaki pottery dates back almost thirteen hundred years. Iga-Yaki developed because the clay in this region has exceptional heat-resistant qualities when fired and because of the abundant red pine forests, which yield ideal firewood for their kilns called “Breathing clay.”

The recipes look amazing and the talk about this remarkable pot has made me put this item on my wish list. I can’t wait to use this cookware and taste this dishes that are so good for you too! I love the fact that these are also set up for family style cooking!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Blogging for Books program.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


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