Back in the United Kingdom, I was used to cooking about half of my dinners with an oven, so it was quite a shock to the system when I first moved to Japan and found that the closest thing to one in my sharehouse was the toaster oven.

Needless to say, I wasn’t about to cook my weekly chicken dinner in that. And when it comes to a more substantial Christmas feast, most Japanese kitchens are a stumbling block for many amateur non-Japanese cooks.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Japan, you’ll have noticed that an oven is not the go-to way to cook something. Instead, most meals are cooked using a variety of pots and pans to sear, simmer, boil and steam. Unless you’re at a pizza place or a bakery, it’s not too common to see an oven in a restaurant kitchen in Japan, either.