22 Sep 2022

Enjoy Cooking Rice in a Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker!

Banko Ware has the top market share in Japan for earthenware pots which are known to be the best pots for cooking Japanese rice. In particular, the clay pot called Hagama, which is made for cooking rice, is a top quality product that is made with detailed attention from the Banko Ware ceramic artists.

The taste of rice cooked in a rice cooker is completely different from rice cooked in a Hagama pot . It is said that once people eat rice cooked in a Hagama pot, they cannot go back to using a rice cooker.

In this issue, we will introduce the charm of the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker and how to properly cook rice with it. 

View Banko Ware Hagama Rice Cooker

Contents

  • Charms and Characteristics of the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker
  • How to Cook Rice with the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker
  • Recipe for "Taimeshi" Sea Bream Rice
  • How to care for the Hagama Banko Donbabe Rice Cooker
  • Conclusion

Charms and Characteristics of the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker

The Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker is a earthenware pot designed for cooking rice. The rim of the pot is made to look like wings, which gives the pot its name, Hagama, meaning "a pot with wings," and it is designed to be easily held, even though it is heavy.

The combination of the dedication of ceramic artists and the use of high quality materials has made this rice cooker an excellent piece of cookware for cooking rice.

Banko Ware, number one in the clay pot market in Japan

Banko Ware is has been handed down in Mie Prefecture for about 300 years, and since 1959, the clay has been blended with a mineral called petalite to develop clay with excellent heat resistance.

Banko Ware pots have earned such a high reputation that they account for 80% of the market share of earthenware pots in Japan.
In particular, the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker, specially designed for rice, is known for its excellent features such as heat conduction and far-infrared ray effects that maximize the flavor of rice.

Banko Ware pots have been developed for use with electric stoves as well, and they continue to support modern age Japanese home cooking.

The "Wing" rim of Hagama

As rice is cooked under controlled heat, it is not moved while it is being cooked, and as this rice cooker does not have a protruding handle, it does not take up much space on the stove, allowing the user to cook with other pots and pans for other dishes while the rice is cooking.

As this pot is a stoneware item, the weight of the rice in water is a bit heavy. Therefore, this rice cooker's distinctive rim, called "wings" are designed to allow easily handling of the pot despite its fairly heavy weight. 

Especially, the wings on the  Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker are designed at a perfect angle, making it more comfortable to hold.

Secrets of Thermal Conduction

The secret of why the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker can cook rice so deliciously lies in the material of Banko Ware's clay and the design of the Hagama pot.

First of all, the clay used in Banko Ware has excellent heat resistance, thermal storage, and heat retention properties. Even when cooking over high heat, the ingredients inside the pot can be cooked slowly.

Moreover, the rice can be cooked over far-infrared rays, the same type of heat that is produced when grilling with charcoal, which makes the rice fluffy and shiny.

In addition, the shape of this rice cooker is round at the bottom. So the heat is evenly distributed throughout the rice cooker as the heat wraps around the bottom of the pot evenly.

Sawara Cypress Wooden Lid and Hinoki Cypress Rice Scoop

This pot comes with a wooden lid and a rice scoop, each made of the highest quality wood from Nagiso, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

The wooden lid is made of Sawara cypress, a type of cypress that is resistant to moisture due to its high content of sterilizing resin, making it the best material for the lid of a rice cooker.

The rice scoop is made of aromatic Hinoki cypress, and is plane-finished by Japanese wood craftsmen to prevent rice grains from sticking to it.

How to Cook Rice with the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker

While the rice cooked in this Hagama pot is said to be the best, the way it is cooked is, of course, important.

Here we will show you in detail how to cook basic white rice.

*The cooking time may differ because the ovens used in the recipes presented here and your home ovens may have different power levels.
Until you get used to using this rice cooker, please use a kitchen timer to measure the time for each cooking process to find the time when the rice is cooked to your desired firmness.

Basics of Cooking Rice in the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker

1. Prepare one cup (150 g/5.3 oz) of rice with 220 cc (7.4 oz) of water.
One cup of rice in Japan is measured as one “gou", and a three gou size rice cooker can cook up to three cups of rice.

2. Fill the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker with the appropriate amount of water with well-rinsed rice and soak it for 30 minutes.
The inside of the three gou (cups) rice cooker has a line that indicates the approximate amount of water for the amount of rice to be cooked.
1 gou: fill water up to the bottom line
2 gou: fill water up to the middle line
3 gou: fill water up to the top line

3. The Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker has one air hole on the side of the pot and two on the ceramic inner lid. When placing the inner lid, place it at an angle so that the hole on the side of the pot and two holes in the inner lid form a triangle, not a straight line, as shown in the picture above, and place the wooden lid on top of it.

If the holes are aligned, hot water may suddenly spill out during cooking.

4. Cook over high heat.
To avoid the rice from boiling over, turn the heat to low when you hear the inner lid clattering. And then cook for the time listed below.
1 gou: 4 minutes
2 gou: 6 minutes
3 gou: 8 minutes
*Caution: Do not over cook the rice on high heat to avoid the hot water from spilling out from the pot. Once you hear the clattering sound of the inner lid, turn down to heat to low. 

The time it takes for the inner lid to start clattering varies depending on the stove you are using, so we recommend that you measure the time it takes the first time you use this pot.

5. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes to steam in the residual heat. Do not open the inner lid or the wooden lid during this time.

6. After opening the lid, use the Hinoki cypress rice scoop to carefully scoop the rice from the bottom of the pot so as not to mash the rice grains, and mix the rice to break up any chunks. This is the secret to serving fluffy, hot rice in a rice bowl. Remember to wet the rice scoop in water before using it to mix the rice.

Enjoy the rich aroma and flavor of rice cooked in the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker.

View Banko Ware Hagama Rice Cooker

Cooking Taimeshi ( Sea bream rice ) with Hagama Pot

Taimeshi is one of the "Maze-Gohan" dishes, in which several food items are cooked together with rice, and is a feast with sea bream, which is considered a particularly tasty and auspicious fish among those favored in Japan.

It will be very appreciated at special events such as birthdays and anniversaries, as well as when served to guests with a connection to Japan.

Once you have earned the basic cooking of rice in Hagama pot, try cooking dishes like Taimeshi.

Ingredients :
2 gou (2 cups) rice, 200 cc (6.8 oz) water, whole sea bream, 2-3 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons sake, 1 teaspoon Japanese granulated soup stock, 1 piece kombu (kelp), "Mitsuba" Japanese honeywort (if available)

Sake, Japanese granulated soup stock, and kombu (kelp) can be found at your local Japanese food store. Mitsuba is used for decoration and flavor, but it is difficult to find in Europe and the United States, so green onions may be substituted.

1. Add well-rinsed rice, water, sake, Japanese granulated soup stock, salt, and kombu (kelp) in the hagama pot, and soak for 30 minutes.Kombu is used to make soup stock, so it does not necessarily have to be a sheet of kombu, but can be in some pieces.

2. Rinse the processed sea bream in water, after removing the scales and entrails, then sprinkle with extra salt. If the sea bream is too large for the hagama pot, cut it in half or in thirds.

3. Wrap the fins and tail of the sea bream in aluminum foil so that they do not burn, and bake in the broil of the oven until browned.

4. Place the baked sea bream in the Hagama pot, close the inner lid and the wooden lid, and place over high heat. The inner lid should be placed so that the air holes are arranged in a triangular shape, as in the basic method of cooking white rice.

5. When steam comes out of the air holes in the inner lid, turn the heat down to low and cook for 6 minutes. After that, turn off the heat and keep the lid on for 15 minutes to steep in the residual heat.

6. Take the sea bream and kelp out, and break up the sea bream into bite-sized pieces. At this time, remove all bones as much as possible.

7. Replace only the loosened sea bream into the Hagama pot and gently mix with a rice scoop so as not to mash the rice and sea bream meat.

Serve in bowls and decorate with Mituba or other garnish. Enjoy the best Taimeshi, which is infused with the flavor of sea bream and several Japanese dashi broth.

How to Care for the Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker

Unlike metal pots, you need to follow a few rules for use and maintenance of earthenware pots.  So be sure to follow these precautions in order to use this pot for a long time in good condition. 

For safe use

・Never use this rice cooker for cooking with oil. Hagama pots cannot be used for cooking foods such as tempura, stir-fries and other dishes that require a lot of oil. There is a risk of fire.

・Be careful to avoid burns while cooking with Hagama pots. These pots become very hot during cooking, so use mittens when touching the pot or lid to avoid burns, and use a trivet to avoid damage when placing the pot on a table or other surfaces.
Never touch a hot Hagama pot with bare hands during or immediately after cooking.

・“Okoge", the browned rice on the bottom of the Hagama pot, is one of the tastiest parts of the cooked rice in a Hagama pot. Be careful not to set the heat too high, the rice may burn. Be careful to adjust the heat.

After cooking

Do not leave leftover food in the Hagama pot. As it is an earthenware pot and absorbs water, the leftover food may cause mold or an unpleasant smell in the pot. After cooking, if there is leftover food, move the it to another container and empty the Hagama pot as soon as possible.

After using the Hagama pot, be sure to wait for it to cool before washing it with a soft sponge. Avoid soaking it in water for long periods of time, even if it has food stuck to the pot, as this can cause mold.
Leaving detergent on the pot can also cause it to smell. If you are concerned about stickiness or odors, boil hot water with baking soda in the Hagama pot.

After cleaning the Hagama pot, dry it well and store it in a well ventilated place without the lid.  Be careful about drying when storing the pots, as any moisture left in the pot's base can cause mold.

How to care for the wooden lid and rice scoop

Do not leave the wooden lid and rice scoop in the Hagama pot with water in it. Be sure to clean them with only water after use, wipe off the water immediately and store. If oil is stuck on the surface, wash with diluted dishing washing detergent, then rinse with water well and quickly.

After cleaning wooden items, dry well before storing. Although the Sawara and Hinoki cypress are woods that contain antimicrobial resin, it may cause mold if you so not dry them well.
Also, be sure to dry them in the shade to prevent overdrying.

You may feel a bit of stickiness even if you take proper care of them, that is the natural resin of Sawara and Hinoki cypress. It does not have any harmful effects to the body. If you are concerned with the stickiness, you can remove it with sand paper or alcohol water.

The experience of tasting truly delicious Japanese rice  

If asked "What would you the last meal of your life be?”, many Japanese people will answer "white rice." This is probably because rice has historically been an essential part of Japanese cuisine. Cooked rice is the main source of energy for the Japanese people.

Hagama pots were common in households before the introduction of electric rice cookers, but today, the amazing taste of rice cooked in earthenware pots is gaining renewed attention, increasing the number of households that are starting to use them.
If you are in pursuit of the true taste of Japanese rice, try cooking rice in this Hagama Banko Donabe Rice Cooker.  It will surely change the way you think about rice.

View Banko Ware Hagama Rice Cooker