Cozy Wintertime Meals Made with the Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18

Happy New Year! We are so excited to cook our favorite wintertime meals this January as we cozy up to the colder weather. With Zojirushi’s versatile new Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18, we’re able to make so much more than white rice with just a single appliance, from soup, congee, and more. The exclusive Umami setting on this Zojirushi rice cooker is also great for cooking a variety of rice grains as well, as it extends soaking and steaming to make your rice fluffier, sweeter, and more delicious. Today, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite rice based dishes we’ll be preparing in January with the help of our Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18.


Zojirushi’s Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18Before we dive into the recipes, let’s get to know our rice cooker a little better. The Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18 is an elegant appliance that comes in a stylish Metallic Black color, with two sizes available to accommodate various household sizes: 5.5 and 10 cups. What makes this rice cooker unique is its advanced micro computerized fuzzy logic technology that allows it to offer a long list of menu settings including Zojirushi’s special Umami setting, that will help you whip up a variety of tasty dishes.


Menu settings include:

  • White
  • Umami
  • Mixed
  • sushi/sweet
  • Jasmine
  • Porridge
  • Congee
  • Brown
  • GABA brown
  • Quick white
  • Quick Jasmine
  • Steam
  • Slow cook


It features an easy-to-read LCD control panel, clock and delay timer, nonstick coated inner cooking pan, and all food contact surfaces are BPA free. The inner lid is detachable for easy cleaning, and the rice cooker also comes with additional accessories such as a steaming basket, rice spatula, and measuring cup. To see this rice cooker in action, visit our product video here.

Now that we’ve been properly introduced to our Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18, let’s dive into our dishes!

Rice Dishes:


We love Jambalaya because it combines many great flavors into one delicious bowl. This hearty meal features shrimp, sausage, and a hint of chili flakes that will warm you right up.



This classic Japanese rice dish is simple to make using the convenient mixed setting for an easy meal that will keep you satisfied with its umami-rich flavor from the shiitake mushrooms.



Vegetable Brown Rice Zosui (Japanese Rice Soup)

Zosui is traditional Japanese comfort food that combines rice, chicken broth, and seasonal vegetables. This simple yet satisfying soup can be made from scratch or from leftover nabe base if you have it. Perfect for lunch or dinner on a cold day!


Keihan (Japanese Chicken Soup with Rice)

Keihan is another traditional Japanese dish that hails from the southern islands of Japan. This dish features shiitake mushrooms, chicken breasts, and egg crepes. Yum!



Baked Rice Casserole with Artichokes and Mushrooms

Our baked rice casserole dish is excellent for mushroom lovers and is a gluten-free alternative to other traditional casseroles. Combine all ingredients into a casserole or ceramic bowl and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.


Japanese Style Curry Doria

This Japanese-inspired doria is a wonderful way to make use of leftover curry and rice and turn them into the ultimate comfort meal. This dish comes sizzling out of the oven ready to eat, featuring mozzarella cheese, parsley, and butter.  


What are your favorite dishes to enjoy in the wintertime? Do you have any favorite recipes that you plan to try from this blog? Be sure to share your experience with us on social by tagging your photos on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan 

Local Kine New Year

I’ve lived in California now for over 40 years, which I guess means I’m more from California than I am from Hawaii or Japan. But because those other places represent major milestones in my life, I’ll never forget their effect on who I am today. Hawaii is where I grew up as a kid, and went to college later on. And even though I haven’t been back in a while, that’s one place I know never changes. I mean, it’s an island, man.

Every major holiday had a designated family that would host all my relatives for a potluck dinner—and New Year’s was at my aunt’s in Honolulu. My cousin has taken over that duty since then, and she still makes her specialty, Chicken Hekka. What the heck is Chicken Hekka, you might ask? It’s Hawaiian style sukiyaki; slightly sweeter, a little lighter broth, chicken rather than beef, but otherwise similar ingredients.

Our version had Japanese aburaage (fried tofu skin) and long rice (bean thread noodles), cut into short strands for easier eating and less splashing when people are fishing them out of the pot.

The fast cooking greens go last.

My Chicken Hekka. And before you say, “Why would you want to eat a hot pot in Hawaii?” Don’t forget, when you live there and the temperature drops to the 60s at nighttime (gasp!), it feels COLD if you’re always being tropical.

How much do you know about KIng’s Hawaiian Bread®, that soft, buttery, sweet and poofy bread in the bright orange packaging you see at the market? When the original bakery and coffee shop was located on King Street in Honolulu, it was known as a place to sit down and enjoy the food and pastries. The founder is originally from the Big Island, where he started the business in the 50’s, and today you can get their famous bread almost anywhere.

Hawaiian Bread is basically Portuguese sweet bread, which you can bake in a breadmaker. Look up a recipe for that and it’ll come close, even though you may not be able to replicate that signature texture. Mine still came out softer than regular white bread though, and the sweet bread taste was spot on. I was also very happy to say it rose higher than any loaf I’ve ever baked.

I used a popular Portuguese sweet bread recipe from for a 1.5 lbs. breadmaker. I reduced everything by a two-thirds for my 1 lb. breadmaker and it turned out fine. Forget other “Hawaiian” bread recipes that call for pineapple juice. This one is the real deal.

Serve with butter while still warm. We always had one of those big round loaves at my auntie’s house on New Year’s (so we could eat it with canned Vienna Sausage believe it or not). Mystery meat indeed!

Since the breadmaker was already out when I made my bread, I used it to make Butter Mochi too. All you need is mochiko, the sweet rice flour sold at most Asian markets. I added chocolate to mine and the rest was up to the breadmaker—pretty easy. Zojirushi has a recipe here.

Unlike wheat flour, rice flour is gluten-free—even mochiko, which is processed by milling a glutinous variety of short grain rice into fine powder. The sticky, chewy texture comes from the type of grain used, which replicates that snappy stretch of gluten. I’m not on a gluten-free diet, but for those that are, this is good to know. Here’s my Chocolate Butter Mochi.

So Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! to you and your family this year. Thanks for reading!

By the way, if you’re wondering what that dish is at the top of this post, that’s my wife’s excellent Chicken Long Rice, another Hawaiian favorite!


Products used in this post: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Portuguese Sweet Bread by


Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2021





Celebrate the Holidays with Japanese Flavor

Are you excited for the holidays? In addition to going all out with festive decorations, Japanese people love to celebrate this time of year with popular American foods seasoned with a Japanese twist. For those who want to add a twist to their holiday dinner, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite Japanese and American holiday recipes that are guaranteed to delight and impress – all of which can be made easily with the help of the new Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-DCC10/18.

Introducing The Rice Cooker That Does It All

The newest addition to our rice cooker lineup is the Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-DCC10/18. It comes in 5.5 or 10 cup capacities and in a beautiful Pearl Beige color. What’s unique about this appliance is that it is built with advanced micro computerized Fuzzy Logic technology, meaning that the rice cooker can automatically adjust cooking temperatures and cooking time to cook your rice (or cake!) perfectly every time.

It also includes a wide variety of settings which include: White, Long Grain White, Sushi, Congee, Brown, GABA Brown, Jasmine, Steel Cut Oatmeal, Quinoa, Quick White, and Cake.

Choose from convenient features like automatic keep warm, extended keep warm, reheat, and delay timer functions on the rice cooker’s easy-to-read LCD control panel, so you can cook your dishes whenever you please.

In addition, the appliance comes with an easy-to-clean detachable and washable inner lid, detachable power cord, and extra-large steam vent cap for high-powered cooking. The Menu

Now that we’re thoroughly acquainted with the Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-DCC10/18, let’s get to cooking!

First Bite

If you’re hosting a holiday get-together, it’s important to make a great first impression. Not only are these dishes visually attractive, but they’re also easily shareable and super tasty.



  • Gomoku Sushi: This is a beautifully garnished rice bowl that features seasonal vegetables and seafood on top of sushi rice. Because it can be prepared in advance, it’s the perfect appetizer for events or large gatherings.


  • Prosciutto Rice Balls: These bite-size rice balls combine Japanese culinary techniques with Italian style. The prosciutto pairs perfectly with the rice, and the basil adds a fresh zing. Pro rice tip: Always rinse the rice before cooking, even brown rice. Milling leaves a lot of starch on the surface of the rice, and if not removed the rice becomes gummy. We recommend to rinse it 3 to 4 times to remove the excess starch. Remember to work quickly to prevent the rice from absorbing starchy water as much as possible. Watch this video to learn more.

Main Course:

Did you know that Christmas Eve and Christmas are widely celebrated with a bucket of KFC fried chicken in Japan? Because turkey is not readily available in the country, this craze has endured throughout the holidays for decades. Here are two dishes that you can make to celebrate just like the Japanese, with chicken as a star ingredient.



  • Karaage is Japanese-style fried chicken that is fried to crispy deliciousness in small, bite-sized pieces served with rice. It is sure to be a favorite during the holidays.


  • Curry Doria is a mix between a casserole and Japanese curry. Add generous amounts of mozzarella, and add your protein of choice to your liking (in this case, chicken!). Pro rice tip: Remember to use your measuring cup to measure out your rice and use the water measuring lines on the pan to measure the water. We cook and test tons and tons of rice every year, so our rice cookers can cook the best-tasting rice for you consistently. It’s scientific. It’s precise. Trust us, and use the rice measuring cup in conjunction with the water measure lines. It will yield a perfect result. Every. Single. Time.

A Sweet Ending

One of the biggest highlights of a Japanese Christmas is the decorative cakes that look like works of art — they are almost too pretty to eat! In Japan, people especially love enjoying strawberry shortcake on this holiday. Below are fruit-forward cake options that you can make straight out of your rice cooker.


  • Layered Trifle Tower: This fluffy sponge cake is layered beautifully with marsala sherry, raspberry jam, custard, and fruit. Serve in a clear vessel to show off the beautiful interior.


  • Whole Wheat Sponge Cake: This whole wheat cake only requires seven ingredients (plus the fruit) and is easily baked at the touch of a button. Top with whipped cream, enjoy, repeat.



How are you going to spend the holidays this year? Are you planning on trying any of these recipes or tips we shared today? Be sure to share your experience with us on social by tagging your photos on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan


Bert-san’s Year in Review

Wow! Did 2021 go by in the blink of an eye for you? It did for me; if it weren’t for this blog to keep me regularly contributing each month, I’d probably spin into a vacuum. What the heck did I do all year? Now that I think about it—a lot.

Even though we weren’t very sociable because of COVID, we did our share of hot pots at home just because it’s good for cold weather and we love it. There’s a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant near us that’s always crowded because people love to hang out, spend money and take pictures of what they eat. We’ve been there and it’s alright, but I prefer my hot pots to be simpler than the Taiwanese kind. Japanese nabe style hot pots let you taste all the ingredients without all the heat, in my opinion.

But being that we’re a Japanese/Korean household, and democratic, we can’t have one kind of cooking without the other. I like this army stew because it combines both Korean and Hawaiian cultures into one down-to-earth dish that isn’t just about pretty ingredients or food writers’ taste buds. I mean, the stars of this hot pot are hot dogs and SPAM®! Yeah, it’s basically glorified spicy instant ramen, but it’s good!

If you own a Zojirushi Electric Griddle, one of the most fun and worth it optional accessories you can buy for it is the Takoyaki Plate. Host a “tako-pa” or takoyaki party at your house and everybody can take turns rolling octopus dough balls in the plate. Super fun activity and you get to eat hot takoyaki right off the griddle.

What’s brilliant about this accessory is all the other creative things you can cook on it by rolling them into ball shapes. A search online was eye-opening, seeing all the appetizers and desserts people figured out how to make, like Nutella® Pancake Balls.

For college kids, classes were still taught online this spring, which meant our daughter was living with us at home. As much as I’m sure it frustrated her because she lost her independence, I loved having her around. I know we’re not going to have her that much longer if she moves out permanently one day, so I cherish these days until she graduates and moves on. We were still able to do the local things as a family though, like hike near our home near the bluffs of Palos Verdes. I feel lucky we live near the coast.

Oh by the way, if you never saw my recipe for Brandy Iced Tea, check it out in the post. This will be a treat, I promise. And don’t worry—it’s alcoholic, but not really, you know what I mean?

If you own the BIG Zojirushi Electric Griddle, you can spend all morning doing pancake art, like I did with mine on Japanese Children’s Day. I was so into creating the pancakes, I really didn’t get a chance to eat them; and I don’t have the little kids anymore who would have appreciated it. Too bad! If you do, try this and I guarantee they’ll love it. I’ve seen guys do this using food coloring in the batter, so they can really go all out with their “art”. But then they’re no longer pancakes, and who wants to eat them anymore?

This summer our local Korean restaurants still weren’t open completely, so we had to do Korean BBQ at home. Not quite the same, but not bad if you have the equipment to do it right. I mean, it’s still all-you-can-eat, right? I have a Zojirushi Electric Grill that did the job so well, that it satisfied our cravings until all the restaurants were able to open again.

This is my deliciously beautiful grilled corn, basted with soy sauce Japanese style, called Yaki Tomorokoshi. So good!

Also around this time we started having our squirrel problem. At first I thought the critter was kinda cute, trying to steal a whole peach through a hole he chewed in my screen.

But it got old really fast when he got so nervy he was regularly invading the house.

And even though I managed to trap one, I was never convinced I had caught the right one—the one that came into our house in the first place. So I kept setting the trap and kept on catching squirrels! Every time I caught one, the very next day I would see the first squirrel come right up to the screen again, ready to sneak in. Do you think he told his friends where the best food was?

My Zojirushi Electric Skillet, the one that I used to do hot pots this year, also comes with a shallower pan. This is what I used to make my Pepper Rice for National Rice Month. Of all my Zojirushi appliances, this is the one I use most often because it can cook almost anything—and the two pans make it even more useful. A couple weeks ago we went back to the restaurant that specializes in this, now that everything is back for dining again. They do theirs on personal cast iron skillets and serve them to you like that.

Aaand if you missed my latest review, I tested the Zojirushi NL-GAC10/18 Rice Cooker for its “umami”, “steam” and “sweet rice” settings, just to see how they would do with my limited cooking skills. My big takeaways? UMAMI really does exist, steaming in a rice cooker is brilliant if you can cook your rice at the same time, and for a medium price cooker, this model will do a great job.

So how was your year? Restaurants are opening, traffic is back with a vengeance and we’re gradually going back to work. Let’s go!!




Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2021





Tonjiru: Japanese Pork & Vegetable Miso Soup

We all may be familiar with miso soup, but tonjiru is a classic type of miso soup that is widely popular in Japan during the colder months. This hearty home-cooked favorite features a savory, pork-infused broth complemented by seasonal vegetables and is perfect as a snack, appetizer, or main dish when paired with a bowl of rice. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it packs huge flavor and nutrients for anyone craving a comforting meal.

Where Does It Come From?

Tonjiru (豚汁) comes from traditional Chinese characters that mean “pork” and “soup.” Sometimes, it can be read as “butajiru,” but the Japanese kanji characters are the same. Tonjiru was created sometime in the Meiji era (late 1800s) and has been a traditional winter dish ever since. This soup was meant to feed many mouths, and because meat was not as readily available as it is today, the soup that we enjoy today has a much higher pork to vegetable ratio than before. This soup is preferred not only for its flavor but because of its high-fat content, which keeps the soup warmer for longer.

How to Enjoy Tonjiru

Here are some of the tastiest ways to prepare tonjiru right at home.


  • Marble-rich cuts of pork like pork belly or shoulder are most commonly used for this dish. Thinner cuts will cook faster, but thicker cuts may add more depth and flavor. The choice is up to you!
  • Brown the pork first to add more flavor to the soup base. Fry evenly on both sides until the meat turns brown. Some even like to char the pork before adding it to the soup.

Vegetables & Add-ons

  • After browning the pork, “sweat” your vegetables in the same pan to release their flavors and aromas. Use seasonal vegetables that are available to you, such as mushrooms, carrots, and onions. The more veggies, the better!
  • Japanese people like to add local ingredients like daikon, shimeji mushrooms, taro, burdock, konnyaku, and Asian chives (nira).
  • You can also add in ingredients like tofu or noodles for a heartier meal.


  • The pork will add plenty of flavor to the soup, but traditional recipes use less pork and more miso. Add small increments of yellow miso to your water base, and taste as you go. To preserve the miso’s full flavor, add the miso in at last before the water gets to a boil.
  • You can also use dashi to add more flavor and umami.


  • Finish off the dish with finely chopped scallions or togarashi (Japanese chili flakes).
  • Serve with a steaming bowl of rice and enjoy!

Now that you know all the key points on how to make the tastiest tonjiru, try making it at home with our very own Total Tonjiru Soup recipe.

Have you ever tried tonjiru? How do you like to prepare it at home? Let us know by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!