Bert-san’s Take–Umami Rice Cooker


Aren’t you curious? Can a rice cooker bring out umami in rice? I wanted to know more, yes I did, so I took the Zojirushi NL-GAC10/18 for a workout and tried not to get overly ambitious while testing some of its features. Our family cooker is the IH (induction heating) model so it’s in a higher price range, but I was surprised to see how well this cooker did, especially with that umami setting.

Bear in mind the umami setting takes over an hour to cook rice, so time your dinner accordingly. Believe me, it’ll be worth the wait. I was using the bigger 10-cup version, so the first thing I wanted to try was the minimum amount of rice. Can it still cook rice perfectly with only 2 cups? Yes it did, and it did it well.

The rice really was “sweeter” and cooked with perfect texture through each grain. Not soft-mushy, not hard with too much bite, but firm and still fluffy. Umami is hard to describe, but it brought out a certain flavor to the rice that you can taste. If you buy good quality rice, this is the way to cook it!

I’m assuming the extra time on this setting is to allow the raw grain to soak up the water longer, and after it’s done, to allow for extra steaming. The other thing I tried was to cook a larger amount of rice (5 cups) to make sure the results were the same. Again, it cooked consistently all the way to the bottom of the cooking pan. If you’re one of those people who believe rice is tasteless and has to be drizzled with soy sauce, try making a tasty entree and eat it with good, plain white rice. Give your taste buds some credit, man.

Another unique feature of this rice cooker is the steam setting and the steaming basket that comes with it. My larger 10-cup was ideal for this because the basket is large enough for almost any meal. It can be used as a “set it and forget it” stand alone steamer, but lazy me—I thought, what’s the point unless I can make rice at the same time? So my genius move was to cook fish using foil, which takes longer and can be steamed on the same timeline as a pot of rice.

My black cod (a meatier thicker fish is better; at least an inch thick) goes into the foil, elevated off the bottom with scallions.

Here’s proof I did both at the same time. I made 2 cups of rice on the “Quick” setting, which took about 30 minutes. The fish in a foil packet takes longer than when it’s open-faced, so I’m calculating that the 30 minutes is about right to cook both without over-steaming the fish.

Whoa! Better than I thought! The fish looked tender.

Since this is Chinese style, I made the sauce with soy sauce, sugar, oil, ginger and green onions. I heated it on the stove until boiling and poured it on my fish like a chef. Ha!

(I think it was supposed to sizzle, but mine was a little lame.)

But it still came out pretty tasty and it was so dang easy! Plus I had the rice already cooked to eat it with—that’s an A+ way to use this rice cooker in my mind.

My last test was the Sweet/Sushi rice setting that I thought sounded interesting. I made a traditional Japanese dessert called ohagi, also known as botamochi depending on the season. If you live near an Asian market, you might be able to find sweet rice (mochigome) and canned adzuki bean paste (or you can make it from scratch if you want). Wash the rice good and fill the water to the “Sweet” line on the cooking pan; choose the Sweet/Sushi menu and let the rice cooker do the rest.

Once the mochi rice is cooked, you need to mash it up just enough to still see shapes of the rice grains. I used the bottom of a mug as a masher and it worked fine.

See? Looks like mochi, right?

You can make 2 kinds of ohagi easily. Prepare some adzuki bean paste balls using a cookie dropper and get your kinako ready. Kinako is finely powdered soy bean flour that you mix with sugar to create Japanese style desserts.

Now all you’re doing is molding them into balls with the adzuki. If you use plastic wrap it isn’t that hard. For the ones coated with adzuki on the outside, just get a bit of rice and drop it into the middle and form into balls. The plastic wrap will keep your hands from getting sticky. For the kinako kind, you just do the opposite, then roll the rice ball on a bed of kinako powder.

Boom! You’re done. Mine aren’t very cute—I’m sure you can do better. But if you love mochi, this goes great with green tea!


There are a lot more menu settings on this rice cooker that I didn’t try, so maybe someone else can try those. Good luck if you do!

 

 

Products used in this post: Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mastering the Perfect Cup of Tea with Zojirushi’s VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50

If you’re like us – you love to drink tea all year round, either iced or hot. But, in the colder months – and especially around the holidays, a nice cup of steaming hot tea goes a long way for comfort and to set the mood for the season. And whether you want to feel warm and cozy, clear a sore throat, or need a boost of energy, tea is sure to be a type of tea that works perfectly for your needs.

But did you know that different teas are best brewed at different temperatures? If you don’t brew at the right temperature, the tea could become bitter or not have the fragrance it should and will not be as tasty. Zojirushi water boilers have different temperature settings ideal for various teas so that you can brew your tea to perfection.

That’s why we are so excited to introduce our newest water boiler in our Zojirushi lineup: the VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50This water boiler has 4 different temperature settings that can be selected to brew different types of teas at their ideal temperature and even uses our Super VE (Vacuum-Electric) hybrid technology to save energy.

Here’s a closer look at our newest product’s features, followed by a detailed guide on mastering the art of tea with this water boiler.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: The VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50 

Advanced Design: This appliance is available in two sizes that hold up to 4 or 5 liters of water at a time. The easy-to-read orange backlit LCD control panel always shows actual water temperature, and its wide window water level gauge includes a red ball indicator to show you the water level. The inner sleeve also features distinct water level lines, so you know exactly how much you’re pouring in at all times. Lastly, the base of the water boiler features a built-in swivel that comes in handy when dispensing water.

Super VE Hybrid Technology: Featuring Super VE hybrid technology, the vacuum insulated sleeve on the inside of the water boiler helps keeping water at the selected temperature (160°F, 175°F, 195°F, 208°F) using less electricity, and can even keep water warm without using any electricity when using the “VACUUM” keep warm function. The energy-saving timer function can also be timed from 6-16 hours so that your water is hot and ready for you when you need it, without using energy while not in use.

Saves Time & Energy: Zojirushi water boilers are all designed to boil the water first before keeping it warm at the selected temperature. This was designed for safety, as well as to reduce the chlorine in water. If using bottled or purified water, this step can be omitted by using the Quick Temp Mode, which skips the boiling process and heats to the select temperature (160°F, 175°F, or 195°F), reducing time and energy.

Safe & Easy to Clean: This water boiler’s lid completely detaches to make the cleaning and filling process seamless. The interior is made with nonstick coated stainless steel, and as always, all surfaces that come in contact with food or water are BPA-free. For safety, this machine automatically shuts off to prevent boiling when dry, and features an automatic dispense lock to prevent accidental dispensing. In-lid and in-spout guards also prevent dripping when the machine is not in use.

Bonus for Coffee Lovers:  If you love your coffee just as much as you love your tea (or prefer it instead) – this water boiler’s Café Drip mode dispenses at a slower pace to create the perfect pour for drip coffee, as well.

Zojirushi’s Guide to Brewing Tea using the VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50

Brewing tea is truly an art, and the Japanese have been mastering this practice for centuries. If you brew a cup that is too cold, you might end up with a watery, dull cup of tea, and if too strong, the tea will become unpleasant. Fortunately, the VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50 heats your water to the four temperatures shown below at the click of a button, so all you need to do is click, dispense, and enjoy.160°F: Gyokuro. This specialty tea requires a lower water temperature to ensure optimal extraction.

175°F: Matcha, Green Tea, and white tea. At this temperature, the water is simmering but not boiling. If the water is too hot, you risk burning the tea leaves, which will result in a very bitter cup of tea.

195°F: Oolong. This water is almost, but not quite boiling. Oolong tea falls between green and black tea and can be darker, bolder, or more delicate like green tea.

208°F: Black tea and herbal tea. Water at this temperature is at a full boil. Herbal teas specifically can be steeped for longer periods of time, because they do not contain caffeine.

There are a few things to keep in mind for optimal performance. Check the unit at least once every 3 months for scale build-up. Minerals like calcium will accumulate on the interior surface and if not cleaned will cause issues with dispensing. You also don’t want to taste bits of scale in your tea. If you see scale built-up inside, learn how to take care of it by watching this helpful video:

What kind of tea do you like drinking best? Did you learn something new from our ultimate guide to brewing tea? Be sure to share your experience with us on social by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Mom’s Home Cooking: Pumpkin Nimono かぼちゃの煮付け(Japanese Boiled Pumpkin)

Japanese simmered pumpkin, which is slowly cooked to a soft, melt-in-your-mouth dish, is one of the most popular home-cooked dishes enjoyed throughout the fall and winter. It’s made with kabocha, a Japanese winter squash that is much sweeter than American pumpkin. You’re sure to think of mom’s home cooking when you try this dish, and it is an easy and nutritious addition that you can add to any meal. And the best part? This dish can be prepared in about 30 minutes and has an incredibly long shelf life. Let’s learn more about this delicious dish below.

Kabocha is a Japanese squash that is similar in texture to pumpkin and sweet potato. The color is usually a dull deep green with white stripes. An average kabocha weighs about 2-3 lbs.

Kabocha continues growing even after it is harvested! It takes a long time to become ready to consume. After harvest, kabocha needs to be ripened in a warm environment for up to 13 days to let the starches develop into sugar. Then, it’s stored in a cool place to increase carb content. This process can take up to 3 months.

It is much harder to cut than other pumpkin varieties when it comes to the rind, but once cooked, the rind is edible too. The flesh is a deep, reddish-yellow, and turns orange when cooked. In addition to being boiled and seasoned, kabocha can be prepared as tempura, croquettes, desserts, pastries, and even lattes!

How to prepare this dishThis dish is traditionally prepared with dashi, sake, mirin, and sugar, and can be prepared in just about 30 minutes. You can prepare this dish in your Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50.

  • First, cut the kabocha: The rind is very tough, so be careful when cutting. Use a large knife and cut slowly. Another option is to let it microwave for a few minutes to get it soft.
  • Remove the seeds: Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and then discard.
  • Cut into smaller pieces: Make sure the pieces are cut into roughly the same size so they can cook evenly.
  • Prepare the broth: Place the cut kabocha skin side down and pour dashi on top in a skillet.
  • Stir in the sauce: Once the broth has softened the squash, add the other ingredients and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Serve hot or cold: You’ll know this dish is done cooking when you can easily poke a hole into the kabocha. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and serve either hot or cold.

So, what do you think about this dish? Let us know if you tried making this dish at home or used our Electric Skillet by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

 

What’s In Your Toaster Oven?


One day I decided to see what I could make in my toaster oven, from breakfast to dinner. Since I don’t cook, they all had to be easy to make—I found out that baking is a pretty easy way to cook. And toaster ovens don’t get as hot as a regular oven, they’re right on the counter, and they’re big enough for mostly anything (mine is anyway).

First up was my breakfast. Egg toast with cheese. Have you ever tried this? Just put a dent in the middle of a piece of bread and drop an egg in it. Spread some cheese around the top and leave the egg exposed. Then you just pop it in the oven for like 12 to 15 minutes at around 375°F until you see the cheese turn brown.

I used the bottom of a glass to make the cavity, which was easy because you notice I used very thick bread! This is the Japanese shoku pan style bread that you can find at most Asian supermarkets. These slices came from a 340 gram (3/4 lb.) loaf that had 6 slices. You can find varying thicknesses too, sometimes the really thick ones have only 4 slices! If you’ve never tried this kind of bread I would recommend doing so immediately—it’s got a texture that is unbelievably soft (but not squishy), a crust that isn’t hard at all, and a satisfying milky taste. Even with the thinner slices, shoku pan toasts beautifully on the surface while still staying fluffy on the inside.

Aaand…breakfast!

Gotta say I went a little long with the baking on this one. I prefer my yolks runny. Oh well, next time… One great way to eat it though, is to add some Japanese mayo as a topping. The tang of the mayo really compliments the cheese and egg combination nicely.

Kale Chips

Since when did people start eating kale and making it a thing anyway? Didn’t we just ignore it when restaurants used to use it as a decoration on your plate, eventually destined for the busboy to clear off after you were done with the real food? Nobody actually ate it because it tasted horrible! Well, I got news for you, to some of us it still tastes horrible, ha-ha! But somehow they found out it was good for you and kale became the darling of salads. My wife loves kale—I do not. But Kale Chips? OK, I gotta admit they’re pretty good! This is easy—just coat with olive oil (not too much), salt and pepper, and bake it for 10 or 15 minutes at 350°F. Try to brown but not burn it.

One thing; make sure you cut the kale into large enough pieces. It shrinks considerably. Otherwise, it makes a good snack. believe it or not.

My own version of a snack. Mix it with popcorn. Doesn’t this look more like I’m justifying eating this stuff?

Foil Packet Chicken

Sorry, I can’t take the credit for this one—my wife helped me out because she didn’t want me to ruin dinner! But this was easy too. The sauce is made from olive oil, Dijon mustard, herbs you would have around the house and lemons. There are a bunch of similar recipes you can look up online, but the real benefit of cooking with foil is that everything steams inside at the same time, even the potatoes. Took about 30 minutes at 375°F. One thing we forgot was to slice the potatoes in half, which would have helped bake them faster—I would recommend not skipping this step. Otherwise, you get half-baked potatoes.

Dinner is served! No pan to clean—just toss the foil after cooking, or serve it like that and pretend you’re outdoors camping. There’s a whole library of foil cooking recipes out there; just remember it’s not just for camping. It’s great for oven baking too.

My dirty little secret: our regular oven doesn’t work really well, which is the real reason we’ve been using a toaster oven ever since it went on the blink. But you know what—we don’t really miss it. As long as you don’t need to bake for a crowd or have multiple baking pans or cookie sheets you have to do at the same time, you don’t really need a big oven. As long as your toaster oven is a high quality larger capacity one, you’ll find it’s well worth the counter space!

Just For Fun

This guy actually broke into our house by chewing the screen!

The same one on a raid. He came repeatedly for weeks and weeks. We tried hot pepper on the screen, taping it shut, etc.

Finally had to call an exterminator. Sorry guys, squirrels are cute but not when they start invading. He even brought a buddy one day. That was the last straw for me!

 

 

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2021

 

 

 

 

Fall Favorite Recipes

We love the fall for its seasonal ingredients (hello, pumpkin!), and the hearty dishes we can make with them that make this season extra cozy and special.  Today, we’ll be sharing the recipes we’re most excited about, and how you can easily make them with the help of your Zojirushi appliances. Plus, you’ll get an exclusive look at our product of the month, the Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet for Yin Yang Hot Pot EP-PFC20, and see how to upgrade your cooking skills with its multi-functional capabilities. Let’s get to it!

Pumpkin Dishes

Pumpkin is without a doubt one of the most popular ingredients for fall cooking. It’s healthy, hearty, and can be served sweet or savory. Here are our top choices on Zojirushi pumpkin delights:

Pumpkin Bread

A flavorful bread made with robust fall spices, pumpkin puree, and toasted crunchy walnuts. It’s the perfect fall treat for breakfast, coffee, or dessert. Bake it with one touch with a wide range of our bread makers. If you want to make this loaf perfectly, make sure to follow close attention to the directions. Loaf got you stuck? Try wiggling the wingnuts under the baking pan. Doing so will move the kneading blade, releasing any baked dough that is causing it to be stuck and the loaf should slide right out! Just don’t wiggle it too much or the loaf might get a big hole.

Harvest Pumpkin Roll

This is a sweet pastry that features pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Sticky, warm, and the perfect treat for any occasion. To get the fluffiest rolls, remember to use fresh ingredients. This is especially important for yeast because it’s a living organism. Once the yeast is opened, store it in the fridge to maintain freshness and use it as quickly as possible.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Cannelloni

A savory Italian appetizer that will make your heart sing. This is a dish that you can make in your Zojirushi breadmaker. Expert tip: Use a digital kitchen scale to measure your ingredients instead of measuring cups. Measuring by weight is always accurate and consistent so you will always enjoy perfectly baked goods every time!

 

Soups Stews, and Grills

There’s nothing more comforting than indulging in a savory, hot soup to warm up during the colder months. This month, we’re introducing our latest multi-functional Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet for Yin Yang Hot Pot EP-PFC20, which can make delicious stews, and more!

 

The versatile skillet has two cooking pans: a deep pan with a divider for Yin Yang hot pot, and a dual surface griddle pan for grilling meats and vegetables. Both pans are titanium and ceramic enhanced nonstick coated, with a 1,300 watt heating system for quick heating. It also has a tempered glass lid to monitor the cooking process, and a detachable power cord for easy storing. Learn more on our product video: Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet for Yin Yang Hot Pot EP-PFC20

Impressive, right? Below are a few hot pot soups you can make this month with the help of the Yin Yang Hot Pot:

  • Sichuan Hot Pot: A popular Chinese dish that is spicy and numbing. Throw in your favorite fall veggies and enjoy.
  • Kimchi Hot Pot: Kimchi is a fermented Korean dish with a kick and is delicious when served warm for the fall. Add pork belly, tofu, and spices for an all-in-one meal.
  • Daikon Pork Layered Hot Pot: This easy recipe features dashi, soy, pork, and mushroom. A perfect fall combination.

Ready to try the grilling feature? Here are our top choices:

  • Japanese Barbequed Lamb: Eat as you go with this savory grilled dish. Toss in the vegetables first, then the marinated lamb.
  • Grilled Veggie Open Faced Sandwich: A vegetarian alternative to enjoy this fall. Featuring veggies marinated in red wine, honey and olive oil for a balanced flavor profile.  
  • Fancy Grilled Lobster Tails: This dish features tender lobster tails with lemon zest and butter sauce along with fluffy potatoes topped with sour cream and bacon

Did you try any of these recipes or have a favorite? Be sure to share your experience with us on social by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan #FallDishes #Pumpkin #Hotpot