Cleaning your clay pots (and/or Japanese nabe)

So all this talk of cooking in specialized pots made me crave clay pot rice, and I decided to break in the newish Japanese nabe pot I bought with some rice.

I tried a new recipe that emphasizes getting the rice crispy at the bottom, and while I got that part down, I cannot get a small bit of burnt rice off the bottom of the pot. There’s also general discoloration from the rice, but I’m not concerned with that.

I’ve soaked this thing to death already, and this last little half inch spot refuses to release. I’ve also used baking soda, and yes, plenty of hot water. I’m stumped. What have you used to successfully clean up these burnt spots?

Picture for reference (the darker patch is raised, all the rest is smooth):

Crisped rice porn for the hell of it :laughing:

1 Like

I think you did everything correct. A little burning is normal, and your usage of boiling with baking soda is also the most effective way (without damaging the pot coating).

Now in term of reducing burning, then one can always use more water-to-rice ratio to reduce the degree of burning. I always get some amount of burning be using the Chinese clay pot or Japanese clay pot.

Did you use a plastic spoon/scoop to scrub a little?

1 Like

Yeah, my smaller pot has some discoloration too, and I don’t bother with that. I already used more water than I should have by accident and the rice got a bit too soft. I’ll have to try the baking soda again and let it sit longer. I might have been too impatient n scrubbing that off. I did try with scraping with a plastic spoon but it may have been too thick to be effective; need to find a thinner one.

Sometime it does take 2 sessions of baking soda. The reason is that the thick black charcoal layer is form, and the baking soda was only able to work on the outer layer. So after the outer burned layer is removed, it will need another boiling baking soda.

1 Like

Yes, I burned an enameled cast iron skillet (learning curve). It took two sessions of boiling water with baking soda, but it came out like new.
I did use an old wooden spoon to help with the scraping as the water/baking soda boiled.

1 Like

Just an update to say that another round of soaking the pot in baking soda and hot water, and then some elbow grease to scrape off the spot using a plastic take out knife did the trick. Very stubborn little burnt spot, but it finally is smooth like the rest of the pot.

1 Like

Thanks. Good to hear.

Just made some unagi (eel) rice with wasabi with a donabe. :grinning:

So what kind of stove do you have?


Yum! And with real wasabi. I wish I could get that here.

I have a GE gas stove, nothing fancy.

Yes, real wasabi – showing off.
The reason I asked is that rice burning on a clay pot is not unusual. However, not all rice burning is the same. Playing water level and heat level will help. Currently, my kitchen has an electric radiant stove. (in my opinion, it is the worst kind of stove compared to standard electric coil and gas…etc). Very recently, I put a heat diffuser to help even out the heating surface. It greatly reduced the rice burning. Not sure if it is just luck.


Bear in mind, Little Pig, that a degree of burning is much coveted by many (most?) Japanese. My brother and I used to fight over the bits of koge (lit. “burned”), the browned-almost-to-black crust on the bottom of the pot. It’s great as it is, or topped with some furikake and a few drops of shoyu, or even a little salt. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

1 Like
1 Like

Interesting with the heat diffuser. Might come in handy for other dishes. I did purposely try to crisp the rice more, all the way up to the sides too, by tilting the pot for about 1 minute on front and back. Ironically the sucking was the bottom, so perhaps there are higher heat spots on the bottom.

I don’t mean for you to get a heat diffuser. Sorry if that comes across. I just mean that the rice burning may have to do with heat level and heat evenness of your stove.

I have only one clay pot, a South American baking dish with a pig face, complete with ears, on one end. It is my go to pot for enchiladas, macaroni (actually orecchiette) and cheese, and a few others. It is easy to clean. Even crisped cheese comes right off.

1 Like

Omg, love the piggy face! Nice looking pot. I only have the Chinese style clay pot and then the larger Japanese style donabe. There is a shinier glaze on the Chinese-style pot, and generally it’s easier to clean but it still has a few smaller residual burnt spots from making Vietnamese caramelized fish dishes.

1 Like

I find it fascinating that without a high shine glaze this pot cleans up so well. I love the Donabe. It would also be excellent for tagines.

How can you not? :sweat_smile: