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Types of Cookware

Types of Cookware

Japanese Knife Company is not only the best company for Japanese Knives in the UK, but we have over 7000 kitchen and household items making us the ‘go-to’ store for all your needs.

This feature will explain the types of cookware we have available and what each type is best used for.

  1. Barbeques Japanese Konro grills, iconic for indoor Yakitori parties, offer versatile cooking with skewers or a metal mesh over Binchotan coal for unmatched flavor.
  2. Donabe Traditional Japanese earthenware pots, like for shabu-shabu, are durable and suitable for open flame and oven use. They’re renowned for enhancing flavors, especially in rice dishes.
  3. Frying Pans Versatile for various foods and cooking methods, choose non-stick for low heat, stainless steel for acidic foods, and cast iron or carbon steel for high-heat cooking like stir-fries.
  4. Stainless Steel Long-lasting and non-reactive, stainless steel pans provide even heat distribution and are ideal for browning meat and making flavorful pan sauces.
  5. Cast Iron Efficient heat transfer makes cast iron perfect for searing steaks, though it requires proper seasoning and care.
  6. Carbon Steel Lightweight and responsive to temperature changes, carbon steel pans become non-stick over time without coatings.
  7. Griddles Griddle pans with raised ridges provide beautiful char marks, with cast iron recommended for better sear marks.
  8. Omelette Pan Rectangular carbon steel pans are ideal for making perfectly shaped Japanese rolled egg omelets.
  9. Steamer Perfect for gently cooking vegetables and fish, steamer pots utilize steam rising from boiling water in the base pot.
  10. Saucepans Deep pans suitable for various cooking tasks, with options for different sizes and materials like stainless steel or copper.
  11. Saute Pan Efficient for slow frying, sauté pans have a large flat bottom and tall straight sides, perfect for preserving moisture.
  12. Stockpots & Casseroles Large, deep pots for making a variety of dishes, available in stainless steel or enameled cast iron for long-lasting use.
  13. Woks Versatile for stir-frying, steaming, and more, woks are gaining popularity in Western kitchens for cooking oriental dishes.


Cookware Types & Uses

1. Barbeques

Japanese Konro grills are one of the most iconic items of cookware. Usually either rectangular or round in shape, these clay barbecues are predominantly used in traditional indoor spaces, making them the perfect choice for a spectacular Yakitori dinner party. Using either skewers or a metal mesh, they are suitable for cooking a huge variety of vegetables, meat, and seafood.

By using traditional Binchotan coal, which is largely smoke-free, they create an unmatched flavour. Please see the product information or contact us for directions for use.

2. Donabe

Donabe (literally “earthenware pot”) are pots made from traditional Japanese clay for use over an open flame. Traditionally, food is often cooked at the table, such as shabu-shabu. Donabe pots are usually glazed on the inside and porous on the outside. Unlike a lot of earthenware cookware, Donabe pots can be used over an open flame as well as in the oven (ensuring that the outside of the pot is dry and the pot is gradually preheated beforehand).

With proper use, these pots can last for decades, some even surviving for centuries. A newly acquired Donabe pot should be used to boil and simmer water for a few hours and thoroughly dried before being used for cooking. They are available in small sizes for individual use as well as large sharing sizes. It is said that rice cooked in a Donabe pot is better than any other cooking method.


3. Frying Pans

Frying pans are one of the most widely used and versatile items of cookware in our kitchens – and some use them for everything. But did you know that cooking different things requires different pans? Some materials are more suitable for certain foods and cooking methods than others. In short, the rule of thumb is: If what you’re cooking is likely to be sticky (like eggs), and requires a mid-to-low heat, then non-stick is a perfect choice. If cooking acidic foods, such as tomatoes or lemons, then stainless steel is the best choice, as it is a non-reactive material. If stearing or frying on high heat, for example for stir-fry dishes, then cast iron or carbon steel are best.


4. Non-stick pans

In general, non-stick reacts badly to high heat, so to preserve the life of the coating, use on a mid-to-low heat, and remember to always use plastic, nylon, or wooden utensils to avoid scratching the surface. Our range of coated frying pans is PFOA-free, meaning they will not give off harmful material into your food. We carry a huge range of sizes and types.


5. Stainless Steel

Many professional cooks also swear by stainless steel pans – they are long-lasting and hardy, often lighter than cast iron pans, and are completely non-reactive (which is great when deglazing a pan using an acidic substance like wine or lemon juice). If you’re browning meat, cooking on medium heat, or prefer metal utensils, then stainless steel is your friend. It also creates a fantastic and tasty fond with which to make a pan sauce, which is a big plus.

The best stainless steel pans are heavier, as they will have a core of highly conductive metal, like aluminium, sandwiched between the stainless steel. This helps to conduct heat evenly all over the pan, which helps with even cooking. Think stainless steel is hard to keep clean? Think again. The trick with using stainless steel is to heat to high heat, turn down, and put a drop of oil into the pan and swirl around.

Leave it for a minute or so, to cool off the almost smoking point, and then add food, and a little more oil if necessary. This allows the heat and oil to close the microscopic pores in the pan, making it much less prone to food sticking semi-permanently. This should be done every time the pan is used, as cooling and washing will open up those pores again.


6. Cast iron

Need a good sear? Cast iron is your man as it transfers heat very efficiently and is therefore great for cooking steaks. Cast iron is heavy and heats evenly. It transfers heat extremely efficiently and holds heat for longer periods. Because it is so efficient, it should also be used at a mid-to-low heat, and will sear a steak beautifully – just allow time for the pan to heat first, and add food when it is hot.

The cast iron doesn’t react particularly well with acids, like wine, so if you plan to deglaze, use a stainless steel pan instead. To clean after cool, scrub with a sponge and natural abrasive, like salt. Store with a light film of cooking oil to prevent rust spots from forming. A very important for cast iron is that your pan is properly seasoned (or enameled).

There are many ways to season a cast iron pan – some say you should cook only bacon in a new pan for the first year, or bake it covered in fat several times before use. To season an old pan, scrub away any rust and crusted on food, and allow to dry completely. Rub with a thin layer of oil and put into a cold oven. Turn the heat to 180°C, with the pan inside. Allow to bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, and cool in the oven. When cool, wipe dry with paper towels, and the pan is ready for its first use. The non-stick patina will increase every time oil or fat is heated in the pan and will get better and better, provided the pan is not scrubbed with water.

If a thorough washing is required, re-season. Seasoning like this can be done as many times as you like, and will only improve the surface of the pan. So whenever you have the oven on for something else, put the pan in at the same time. All this is, of course, not necessary for enameled cast iron cookware – just the plain cast iron.


7. Carbon Steel

Like cast iron, carbon steel pans become increasingly non-stick over time, without the need for special coatings during manufacturing. In use, carbon steel pans are thinner and lighter than cast iron pans and are also more responsive to temperature changes.

Just like cast iron, carbon steel pans require the first seasoning before use. For instructions on this, please check our Materials Buyers Guide.


8. Griddles

A griddle pan, where the pan’s base has raised ridges, will provide beautiful char marks; unlike the oven, it will flash-fry steaks and veg in no time.

You’ll want something with deep troughs and tall peaks, which provide greater char marks and allow the fat to render into the grooves, ensuring your food isn’t cooked directly in it. Shallower grooves lead to faint char marks, or even none at all, and a greasier end product.

Griddle pans fall into two main categories: cast iron and non-stick, usually on an aluminium base. There are pros and cons to each, though overall we would recommend cast iron griddle pans.

Cast iron pans are usually made of one lump of moulded iron. Some are enameled, which means they are easier to clean and a little more ‘nonstick’; while others aren’t, and require seasoning (basically they always need to be dried and oiled after use).

Cast iron pans have great heat retention, far better than the nonstick ones, but they take longer to heat up. It’s worth waiting, however, as your steak will cook evenly and quickly once it’s in the pan.

As for the ridges, cast iron pans tend to offer higher ridges than nonstick. This is because nonstick pans are normally made of a sheet of a single aluminum sheet, which can tear or deform if the ridges are too high. As a consequence, cast iron, because it’s hotter and has bigger ridges, provides much better sear marks – look for peaks of about 5mm or more.


9. Omelette Pan

The Japanese Omelette Pan is perfect for tamagoyaki, a Japanese rolled egg omelet commonly eaten in bento boxes or as nigiri sushi. The traditional rectangular shape allows for a perfectly shaped roll. They are typically made from carbon steel.

10. Steamer

Steamer pots are similar to stockpots but include a tiered system of insets with holes in the bottom. Steam rising from boiling water in the base pot will allow your food to be gently cooked for a perfectly tender and flavourful dish. It is perfect for cooking vegetables and fish.

11. Saucepans

The term “saucepan” encompasses a wide range of cooking pans these days, but in general, it is a deep pan, usually lidded and in a variety of sizes and materials for different cooking tasks. It is generally an all-rounder for preparing food – from soups and stocks to searing meat and boiling or steaming vegetables. Saucepans usually have a long handle on one side and can also feature a short grip on the opposite side to allow for easy lifting. Our range of saucepans comprises a huge variety of shapes and sizes, some of them with detachable handles to allow for oven use and serving. A good quality stainless steel saucepan will have at least one inner core of aluminum to create even and speedy heat conductivity. Copper saucepans are also available.

12. Saute Pan

A saute pan is a specialist piece of kit, but one you will use regularly. They have a large flat bottom and tall straight sides, allowing more efficient heat evaporation. Usually used with a lid, they are perfect for slow frying when you want to preserve moisture.

It is one of the most useful pans in your kitchen, so it’s worth investing in one that will last. Our range of saute pans is made from the highest quality stainless steel with inner cores of aluminium for greater and even heat conductivity. Available in both uncoated and non-stick coated. They are also available in copper.


13. Stockpots & Casseroles

Stockpots are large, deep pots used to make anything from stock, soup, stew, chili, to boiling noodles, pasta, corn, vegetables, and seafood. Commonly made of stainless steel, Stockpots are available in a variety of sizes for general home use and larger sizes for commercial use.

There are several different types of Stockpots and pot components and some are made in a multi-pot system of an outer pot that holds a slightly smaller inner steamer pot or strainer. They typically have two grip handles on either side to allow for easy lifting and removing from heat.

The width of many Stockpots will vary so when selecting, consider the value of having a wider rather than narrow width pot. The wider pot will allow for easier stirring, working with food ingredients, and cleaning. Wider widths may also be better for storage rather than having to store a taller standing pot. Materials used in the construction of our range of pots are comprised of stainless steel with an aluminum core for efficient and even heat transfer. Aluminum core pots will be heavier in weight and thicker in substance, which will assist with keeping foods from burning easily, a problem that may occur with lighter weight construction.

Casserole Pots are similar to stockpots but are typically shallower. It is also suitable for use in the oven as well as a serving dish. Usually made from uncoated or enameled cast iron, they can last for generations, and with excellent heat retention, are your secret weapon when it comes to cooking better for longer


14. Woks

Woks are incredibly versatile cooking pots, originating in China. In Japan the wok is called a chukanabe (literally “Chinese pot”). It is one of the most common items of cookware in most of East and Southeast Asia and is fast gaining popularity in Western homes, as more people enjoy cooking oriental food.


A traditional wok is round-bottomed, which is ideal for cooking over an open fire pit. However, models with flat bottoms are prevalent in the West where more homes have electric or induction hobs with flat glass surfaces.

Woks are ideal for stir-frying, steaming, pan-frying, deep-frying, poaching, boiling, braising, searing, stewing, making soup, smoking, and roasting nuts – anything you could think of!

Variations of styles we offer at The Japanese Home include models with one long handle (to avoid burning hands when stir-frying and tossing over very high heat), one long handle with a short grip on the opposite side (for easy handling of larger sizes), and models with short grips on both sides (ideal for steaming, braising or making soups). They also come either with or without pouring spouts.

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