Staub’s small-but-mighty rice cooker combines French and Japanese engineering

Photos: Staub / Zwilling
Photos: Staub / Zwilling

Staub’s small-but-mighty rice cooker combines French and Japanese engineering

by Sarah B. Hodge
Stripes Japan

Cast iron pots, pans, and kettles have been staples in the traditional Japanese kitchen for centuries. Rice was traditionally cooked in a hagama, a cast iron pot with a round bottom. With the invention of electric rice cookers in the 1950s and the introduction of cheaper aluminum and stainless steel cookware, cast iron rice pots faced a steep drop in popularity.

In the 1990s and 2000s, French brands Le Creuset and Staub entered the Japanese market, creating renewed interest in cast iron cookware. Originally available only through culinary channels, Staub’s cast iron cocottes (or French ovens) are favored by top chefs for their heat retention, durability, and flavor-enhancing properties. The company became part of the Zwilling Japan group in 2008, and today Japan’s Staub store ranks third in Zwilling’s global sales.

According to a representative for ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS JAPAN LTD, “We developed shapes and usage specific to Japanese cuisine: La Cocotte de GOHAN, The Wanabe, and made-in Japan ceramic rice bowls. We call this series ‘Japonesque’ and it brought a lot of attention and understanding that STAUB is not just for cooking French food.”

Staub’s cocotte de gohan (marketed as the Petite French Oven in the US) cooks rice in as little as 20 minutes thanks to its unique chistera lid. Made in France, the cocotte takes its design from the traditional Japanese hagama and cooks quickly thanks to its excellent convection and gentle heat distribution. During cooking, the curved drop-shaped structures on the inner lid collect condensation and evenly redistribute it onto the food.  You simply rinse and soak uncooked rice, bring the rice and water to a boil in the cocotte de gohan, cover, simmer for 10 minutes and steam for 10-15 minutes for perfect rice every time. I’ve even switched to using this over my trusty Zojirushi, which takes nearly an hour to steam a cup of white rice.

The cocotte de gohan is available in Small (12 cm) and Medium (16 cm) beginning at around $110; the small can accommodate from one rice cooker cup (3/4 cup) of uncooked rice, while the medium can cook two cups. The cocotte’s compact size and heat retention make it a great choice for soups, fondue, and rice dishes like risotto. It’s become one of my favorite Staub cocottes in my lineup due to its small footprint and versatility, plus it looks great on the table (you can mix and match different sizes and colors for effect).

Need ideas on how to use your new rice cooker? Zwilling Japan offers a number of Japanese-language recipes for the cocotte de gohan on their website, including a bacon and mushroom pilaf, easy tomato risotto, and jambalaya, and Staub has also developed recipes for the Petite French Oven, including this spiced chocolate fondue and baked ricotta with chives.

So if you’re looking for a small, versatile powerhouse that makes fantastic rice and will look great on your table to boot, Staub’s cocotte de gohan is the perfect choice!

Spiced chocolate fondue (courtesy of Staub), Serves 4


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 whole cloves Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cayenne
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Fruit, Pound Cake, and/or Donuts for serving

1. In a medium cast-iron petite French oven, combine the cream, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.

2. Let the spices steep into the cream for 20 minutes.

3. Strain the cream, then return it to the cast-iron pot over medium-low heat, until the cream just barely simmers.

4. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave it for a few minutes to melt the chocolate.

5. Whisk until smooth, then pour the mixture into a fondue pot.

6. Serve the fondue with fruit, pound cake, or doughnuts for dipping.

Cocotte de gohan suggested cooking and  steaming times:

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