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Japanese Kitchen Gadgets & Equipment

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I have see portrayed many times that in Japanese homes there is often an iron pot that hangs from the ceiling in the middle of a room over a small fire pit in the floor - I'm sure this is an older method of cooking and may not exist as wide spread anymore - but does anyone know what those are called and where I could find pictures?

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Besides a kama, you can also hang a tetsu bin (iron kettle) and a tetsu nabe (iron pot) from the jizai kagi (pot hook).


Photo 1 shows a tetsu bin, and photo 2 a tetsu nabe.

This site says that the tools shown are the same as those used in the movie, The Last Samurai.

While conventional irori are sunken fireplaces, floor-type irori are now more popular.

My father really wanted to have a conventional irori installed when he had his new house built more than ten years ago, but he gave it up because of the certain risks involved with irori such as burns, fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

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  • 2 weeks later...

While my lemon souffle cheesecake is in the oven as I type, I'm wondering if I've done my poor cheesecake any damage. The recipe I use is from a Japanese cookbook (for children--though perhaps for younger teens) and it calls for a temperature of 160C. When I lived in Japan before, I had a small electric convection oven and my cheesecake turned out wonderfully. But now that I have a gas convection oven, should I have adjusted the temperature? I suppose I will see the results in roughly 29 minutes, but I was just curious for future baking attempts (my first baking attempt with this oven resulted in slightly dry banana bread, but that was probably due to my over-baking it).

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In my experience working with both, gas ovens in Japan a A LOT stronger than their electric counterparts, I would usually have to lower the temp by at leat 10 degrees and cook for a shorter period when using gas. Electric oven can vary widely in their strength and some need to be set at higher temps than indicated, my first electric oven in Japan I couldn't cook anything except cookies or other things that only required a short cooking time, things like meatloaf and cakes wouldn't be cooked through even if I had them in there at 180 (350) for 2 hours!

All ovens cook differently you just need to get used to the way it works and adjust accordingly.

Good luck!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Prasantrin, I envy the hell out of you and your gas oven. I still haven't figured out my little convection oven (and if your gas oven gives you any trouble I'll be glad to trade!).

I think the gas company (and maybe the manufacturer of your gas oven) holds cooking classes and probably has a webpage with gas oven-specific recipes. If your cheesecake doesn't turn out it would be worth checking this out...

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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So, my first cake (baked as per instructions at 160C for 60 minutes turned out like this


Obviously overbaked with huge cracks that were quite deep. Plus I took it out of the pan a bit too soon and it fell apart (though because the cracks were so deep, it may have fallen apart anyway).

Then I baked another one following Kristen's advice of lowering the temperature and reducing the time. This one was baked at 150C for 55 minutes


As you can see, it is much improved and is worthy of bringing to someone's house as dessert (which is why I was baking it).

Now if only I can find some eggs that don't have quite so day-glo orange-like yolks :blink: .

I will also check the Osaka Gas company for more recipes. I hadn't even thought of that though I have used their website before. They had some good recipes in English there.

And even though I haven't quite gotten used to my oven, I love it and wouldn't give it up for the world!! My apartment is pretty great, but my oven puts it over the top! So smallworld, sorry but I'm never letting it go :biggrin: !

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  • 2 months later...

When simmering foods in Japan the recipe will many times call for the food to be covered with an otoshi-buta or drop lid. I have never really questioned its use but does anyone know what it does?

Why is it used instead of just a regular lid?

do other countries use them too?

What kind do you have in your house?

I have a metal one:


but the wood ones are more traditional:


I also like these cute pig ones which is a play on words at buta means pig:


there are also one time use ones made of something like parchment paper that are for one time use.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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My wife doesn't have one. She uses paper towels instead.

>do other countries use them too?

Good question! Let's see what Helen, smallworld, and others have to say about this!

>What it does?

I don't know.

Too lazy and sleepy to translate.


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One thing it does is allow you to cook things evenly without having all ingredients completely immersed in liquid , or to reduce the cooking liquid without drying things out. (Well, obviously...) I guess it makes efficient use of a smaller amount of sake, soy sauce and mirin, too. I imagine that western basting achieves much the same, but with more effort.

Paper towels...I haven't tried that, but have used muslin, or a square of baking paper. It's a useful technique for cooking beans, definitely.

I'd be curious to know where the technique originated too.

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I have used paper towels to soak up the aku (scum) that forms on some dishes but never thought to use as a drop lid....

you could kill two birds with one stone. :biggrin:

In a pinch I have used either foil or parchment/cooking paper.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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I just found this:

They ensure that the heat is evenly distributed and reduce the tendency of liquid to boil with large bubbles. This reduces the mechanical stress on the food and keeps fragile ingredients in their original shape.

from here:


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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The drop-lid technique is similar to the classical western technique of shallow poaching. A sheet of parchment paper is folded and cut so that it becomes a round disc about the size of the pan. A small hole is cut out in the middle to allow some of the steam to be released. The parchment is placed over the partially submerged food and the pan is then often placed in the oven where the heat is more even than direct stovetop heat. The purpose of the parchment is to cook the unexposed part of the food but not to allow the cooking speed to rise as much as if the food were fully covered.

It seems to me that using a drop-lid has the additional advantage of providing more mass on top of the food to keep it from moving around.

I used a drop lid for the first time a few nights ago. My first nimono, sake-simmered monkfish. I will be making more nimono!

Edited by esvoboda (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Two years ago, I bought some ceramics while in Japan. One of the purchases was a pair of cups, glazed on the outside but not on the inside. They came with a piece of paper explaining how to take care of them, but the Engrish translation left something to be desired. So, I never did anything with them as far as prepping them before usage.

I've only used the cups once, because I think they absorbed a lot of the liquid I had poured into them. The little sheet of paper explained different methods on how to prepare the ceramics; I think one method was to cook rice gruel (congee?), and swirl it in the cups.

Anyway, how do you guys prepare your ceramics before using them? Is it weird that my cups absorb liquid? I really want to use my cups again!

Thanks. :smile:

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I don't use too many ceramics outside of my donabe (clay pot), I found a bit on teh care here:


Care & Use of Donabe - Though the donabe takes direct flame, the pot must not be shocked with sudden high heat or cold. The donabe can be used in both the oven, on an open flame or electric stove top. The unglazed outside must be completely dry before placing it on a burner or water in the porous clay will expand and crack the dish. Like all dishes, it should never be left empty on any type of heat. The donabe can be placed in the dish washer but take great care that it does not hit other pots or pans during the was cycle for it may crack or chip it. It is best to hand wash the donabe.

I am not sure about the absorbing water though.....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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a pair of cups, glazed on the outside but not on the inside.

Are you sure of this - glazed on the outside but not on the inside?

Yakishime refers to high-fired unglazed stoneware

Famous examples of yakishime are:

- Bizen (Okayama)

- Shigaraki (Shiga)

- Echizen (Fukui)

- Iga (Mie)

- Tokoname (Aichi)

- Tamba (Hyogo)

The key Yakishime elements are firing, clay, and form

From here:


I think a single photo of your cups will remove all ambiguities.

Your cups look like these?


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You know what, I'm a total dope: they're glazed on the inside and out. I wrote that post without consulting my cups beforehand. :wacko:

I scanned that first site you posted, Hiroyuki--I think (and I hope this isn't the case) that my cups might glazed with lead-based glaze. :unsure: At least, that seemed to be the glaze that best described what's on my cups.

I'll try to describe the cups: they are slightly shorter than a pint glass. Again, they're glazed inside and out, except for a small bit on the outside of the cup, near the bottom. They're beige on top, then become slightly peachy in the middle, and become beige again to the bottom. The cups have slightly raised ridges all around.

I tried to scan all the sites you guys listed with no luck in finding cups similar to mine. So, if they're glazed on the inside, do I have to prep them, or should I not worry about it? (And, if is is lead-based glaze on them, should I even bother using them)?

Thanks, Kristin and Hiroyuki. :smile:

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Yaki mono (things baked) are largely divided into two types, tou ki (pottery) and ji ki (porcelain). Tou ki are porous and will therefore absorb water, while ji ki is less porous and will absorb little water. I think your cups are tou ki.

First of all, I must tell you that I don't practice what I 'preach' below. I don't have many tou ki, and one of the few tou ki that I have at home has gotten moldy probably because of improper care.

1. Before first use, put a tou ki in a pot, add 'togi jiru'* (or water plus some flour or starch), and boil it for 20-30 minutes. Let it cool.

*'togi jiru' is milky water resulting from washing rice with water before cooking. It contains starch.

Boiling a tou ki in the solution causes its pores to be filled with starch.

Alternatively, simply boil it in water for 20-30 minutes.

2. Before each use, immerse tou ki in water for 10 minutes to half a day.

3. Refrain from keeping food in a tou ki too long. Otherwise, the tou ki will absorb the liquid.

4. After washing, leave it to dry for 1 day or longer. Make sure it is completely dry before storage.

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  • 1 month later...

In the sukiyaki thread ( http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=57978 )

Rachel asked about making the carrot flowers and I showed her this picture


not that I ever use these....

here is another gadget I picked up a while ago that I rarely use any more either


it is a nori (laver) punch to for cutting out shapes

what are some of your favorite Japanese gadgets?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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I look at this one in the stores all of the time but just can't bring myself to buy it.


henshin yude tamago

transformable boiled egg (sorry for the bad translation, but what else would you call this??)

You but the boiled egg into the mold, push it closed, wait a couple minutes and voila the egg has transformed from an oval into a heart, star or bear!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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