Oysters au gratin with a donabe earthenware pot

Cooked by Konomi Taniuchi, Movie by Jun Kaneko.

Imagine the piping hot white sauce and large oysters covered with crisp, golden-brown Parmesan cheese ! Here is a suggestion on cooking oysters au gratin using a donabe earthenware pot for a special winter’s dinner.

Oyster au Gratin


Ingredients : 4 servings

  • 1 small onion, cut into wedges
  • 100 g bacon, cut into 1 cm slices
  • 4 mushrooms, cut into ¼ each
  • 8 oysters
  • 3 table spoons, all purpose flour
  • 1 table spoons, butter
  • 2 table spoons, olive oil
  • 1 piece, bay leave
  • 2 table spoons, white wine or Japanese sake
  • 500 – 600 ml (2 ½ US cups), milk
  • Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, to your liking


  1. Dust the cleaned and prepared oysters with flour, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Gently start heating the donabe, place the butter and olive oil, then add the bay leaf.
  3. Stir in the bacon and onion. When the onion becomes transparent, put aside in the donabe, and cook the oysters on both sides.
  4. Once the oysters are cooked, add the white wine or Japanese sake, cover with a lid for a few minutes to braise.
  5. Add the mushrooms once the oysters become plump and gently stir.
  6. Sprinkle the flour, keep stirring until the flour is cooked.
  7. Pour in milk while stirring on a low heat. Remember to mix from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Once the milk starts to simmer, the sauce will thicken. Always remember to stir from the bottom of the donabe.
  9. Sprinkle both Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to your liking. Adding butter or olive oil to the surface will make it turn golden brown colour.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes in an oven heated to 200℃ (400 °F).

A well looked after donabe will serve as a useful cooking utensil that can “grill”, “braise” “boil” and also “bake” as shown in this gratin recipe. Donabe pots have a distinctive presence on the table and can act as the centerpiece.

Deli-sa Donabe Earthenware Pot

The donabe has a history both as a cooking utensil as well as tableware. In a traditional Japanese household, there would have been an “irori”, a fireplace situated in the middle of the living room. This not only served to heat the room, but as a place for boiling water and serving hot food. The culture of using a “nabe”, pot as part of the dining tradition originated from this. It is rare to find an irori in the modern Japanese household, but the traditional style of sharing food from a nabe firmly remains. Actually, the donabe in its essential design embodies that same cultural tradition.


This series of articles features the “déli-sa” donabe from the Hanada pottery shop and was created in collaboration with the members of a Donabe Club and pottery artist Mr. Toshiki Sugimoto. The recipes and dishes shown are posted with the cooperation of Ms. Taniuchi, a member of the Donabe Club. If you have any questions, please send us a facebook message!

Recipe courtesy of Konomi Taniuchi.
Movie and written by Jun Kaneko. Translated by Asaka Barsley.