Cooking With Marie
With three young kids and busy schedules, eating as a family can be challenging – but it’s always rewarding. When it comes to cooking, my husband Takumi and I keep things simple: We use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible – including herbs and veggies from our garden – and prepare quintessential Japanese dishes for our daughters to enjoy. Before eating, we set an intention to enjoy the meal and express gratitude for the person who prepared it – and for the food itself. To keep the kitchen tidy, I make sure every item has a home – and clean up in one shot at the end (Takumi prefers to clean as he goes!). A joyful kitchen starts with cookware you love – and these are my cooking essentials.
Traditional Earthenware Smokeless Grill
The design of this indoor grill is ingenious – it really sparks joy! Made from clay, it retains heat incredibly well and cooks food like a charcoal grill – but it heats up on the stovetop. It doesn’t produce any smoke, so the air in the kitchen stays clean. I use it to prepare vegetables – carrots, bell peppers, eggplant and onions with just a touch of salt. Simple and delicious.
Authentic Ceramic Donabe Pot
Donabe are a staple of Japanese kitchens, and I use mine daily – specifically to cook rice. It’s more common to cook rice in a steamer, but something about cooking in a clay pot stirs up a sense of longing and nostalgia for me – it’s so romantic! But truly, rice prepared in a donabe is infinitely more delicious – each grain becomes perfectly plump. My trick is to soak the rice in water for 30 minutes before cooking it – try it! I do use a steamer to make amazake, a fermented rice drink I’ve loved since childhood.
Cast Iron Japanese Hot Pot
I use this cast iron pot for boiling water, preparing tea and cooking shabu-shabu, a traditional Japanese hotpot dish. Shabu-shabu is fun because it requires active participation – everyone has to cook their own meat and vegetables in a steaming hot broth. I love the detailing on the wooden lid – it’s been preserved with the traditional Japanese method of yakisugi, in which wood is slightly charred to make it waterproof and fire retardant.
Stainless Steel Pot
Growing up, my grandmother had a traditional pot like this – they’re common in old-school Japanese restaurants. I use mine to make miso soup for our breakfast every morning. It’s lightweight so it heats up quickly, but the handle doesn’t get hot – plus, it’s so cute! I recommend washing it by hand for a long and happy life.
Solid Hinoki Wood Cutting Board
I prep for the day’s meals each morning by chopping fruit and veggies. To keep food odors from lingering – and to protect the beautiful hinoki wood from scratches – I dampen the surface slightly before using and wipe it down with cloth when I’m done.
Japanese Carbon Steel Wok
Although woks are associated with Japan, they’re not something you’ll find in most households – but they’re always included in manga illustrations! I use mine for meat and vegetable tempura – my family loves Japanese-style fried chicken. The naturally non-stick surface makes it easy to clean – I like to rinse it immediately after use to keep it in pristine condition.