Happy May Holidays!

Children’s Day
I think May is becoming my favorite month for holidays. I didn’t realize there were so many reasons to celebrate all the things I love this month, until I looked them up. A big one when my kids were growing up was May 5th, Children’s Day in Japan—a tradition that I tried to instill by flying the koinobori (carp) on a flagpole for them every year. This was the last one I put up in 2015, when my oldest turned 18. I hope they remember these traditions when they have kids of their own.

In honor of Children’s Day this month, I thought I’d take a shot at some pancake art to celebrate. Remember when this was a minor thing? Mine aren’t that great, but they’re not bad! Here’s how it’s done—do your outline first on a hot griddle (set at about 300°F). I used a batter mix right out of the box that only required water. You need a consistency that’s not too thick but smooth enough for a squeeze bottle. You could mix your own batter too, as long as you get the right thickness.

Let it cook for a while like a regular pancake; until the batter bubbles and gets firm. Then fill in all the spaces and cook the rest of it.

Then you flip it over to finish cooking the other side, and Ta-Dah! Pancake art that you can get carried away with, like I did! Ha!

And don’t forget, you’re flipping these over, so everything you “draw” in pancake batter needs to be a mirror image of what you want your result to be. Which is what I did with the “Ko-do-mo-no-hi” (Children’s Day) characters at the top of this post. Sheesh! My Japanese writing skills are pretty limited, much less trying to write backwards!

Watch pancake art in action!

Cinco de Mayo
Living here in California, most people celebrate May 5th for one of the best food holidays of the year…I’m talking about Cinco de Mayo of course, because who doesn’t love Mexican food? We did a quesadilla night to celebrate. So colorful and so good!

Don’t just scarf on Cinco de Mayo without knowing that it actually does commemorate an historic Mexican event—the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. And don’t get it confused with Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16, their most important holiday that remembers the country’s freedom from Spain. Cinco de Mayo is mainly a celebration of Mexican-American culture here in the U.S. Today, Cinco de Mayo beer sales rival the Super Bowl—wow! All I know is, we love this day in California!

Have a quesadilla party at your house! Store bought corn (or flour) tortillas, cheese and whatever else you want in it. We used cooked pulled pork from the market. You may want to heat and season it before bringing it to the griddle. Set your griddle on the lowest heat possible; it cooks fast. The nice part is the nonstick surface; even melted cheese did not stick.

Don’t these look great?

Serve with your favorite toppings. We had pico de gallo, guacamole, red and green salsa.
Also in case you were wondering, quesadillas are a uniquely Mexican dish, dating back to the 16th Century. They’re easier to eat than a taco…have a bite!

More in May
Remember I said May was full of my favorite holidays? Check these out:
•Mother’s Day, May 9th this year. Cook your Mom some breakfast; how about pancakes and quesadillas?
•Can’t forget Star Wars Day on May the 4th (“May the fourth be with you”)
•National Hamburger Day is on May 28th; here’s an excuse to grab a burger!
•Memorial Day is May 31st; remember your history—this was originally started to memorialize our soldiers from the American Civil War.
•May 27th is my son’s birthday—he turns 24 this year; wish him luck on his continued journey!
•May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month . You can celebrate all month by going out for boba tea and spam musubi, ha!

Have a great month of May!!

 

 

Photo credits: all images by Bert Tanimoto
Zojirushi products used in this post: Gourmet Sizzler Electric Griddle EA-DCC10
Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Newest Member of the Zo’ Family: Umami Rice Cooker NL-GAC 10/18

Happy May, Zo’ Fans!

We are so excited to introduce the latest addition to our rice cooker lineup, the Umami Rice Cooker NL-GAC 10/18.

This versatile, multitasking machine makes the perfect rice or one-pot meal with its advanced Fuzzy Logic technology and has the most cooking settings in the Micom category, it’s truly one of the most industrious rice cookers we’ve ever made. Are you ready to learn all about this rice cooker’s impressive features and why it may be the perfect rice cooker for you? Let’s get to it.

The Umami Rice Cooker At-a-Glance

The Umami Rice Cooker NL-GAC10/18 comes in two sizes, 5.5 cups or 10 cups capacities. Both sizes come in a sleek metallic black exterior that adds a unique touch to any kitchen, and its modern profile and upgraded settings make it truly best-in-class. This rice cooker also features an easy-to-read LCD screen with pre-programmed settings like a delay timer, auto keep warm, extended keep warm, and reheat.

Perfectly Paired: More on Parts and Accessories

The Umami Rice Cooker NL-GAC10/18 is easy to store and clean with its detachable power cord. The appliance features a removable and washable inner lid, 1.5 mm thick nonstick coated inner cooking pan, and a clear-coated stainless-steel lid, making cooking and cleaning a breeze. Like the rest of our products, customers can rest assured knowing that all of the food-facing parts are BPA-free. Additional accessories that come with this rice cooker include a steaming basket, rice spatula, spatula holder, and measuring cup, so you’ll be fully prepared to make the perfect rice (or meal) every time.

Settings

This machine’s versatility is unmatched. Our Umami Rice Cooker’s intelligent micro computerized technology enables multiple menu settings and cooking functions, allowing users to make several varieties of rice – and access functions, like slow cook and steam.

Even though there are so many settings and menu options, this machine is designed to be easy and user-friendly. All you have to do is click the setting you want, and the rice cooker will do the hard work for you.

A Guide to the Umami’s 12 Settings:

  • The quick white and quick Jasmine features reduced cooking time for dinner in a snap
  • The GABA brown rice setting activates the rice for increased nutritional value
  • The steam setting cooks meats and vegetables without the need for added fats or oils for a nutritious and delicious meal
  • The slow cook setting to whip up soups, stews, and one-pot meals you can savor later
  • Perhaps one of the most exciting settings of this machine is the namesake Umami feature, which makes sweet, soft, fluffy, and flavorful rice through extended soaking and steaming
  • Other settings include white, brown, mixed, sushi/sweet, porridge, and congee

Tips and Tricks for Your Umami Rice Cooker NL-GAC 10/18

Did you know that not all grains are created equally? Though the Umami rice cooker can cook rice, steel-cut oats, and quinoa, 1/2 cup of each raw grain will not end up in the same yield when cooked. Once cooked: rice would equal 1-1/4 cups cooked, Steel cut oats equal 1 cup cooked, and quinoa is 1-2/3 cups.

Can you guess how long you should keep your rice warm in your rice cooker? Some customers will keep their rice for 4-5 days, but we recommend keeping your rice for only 12 hours to maximize taste. Not to worry, with this machine’s Extended Keep Warm feature, you can keep your rice up to 24 hours, as well as reheat the rice at the touch of a button with the Reheat feature.

Instead of keeping your rice in the rice cooker for days, refrigerate or freeze your leftover rice to enjoy later. Store leftover rice in a container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap to retain moisture. When you’re ready to eat it, microwave it and use it for fried rice or rice salad!

With the new steam feature, you’ll be able to cook your favorite flavorful meals without the guilt. Pack the steaming basket like the image below after adding water to the pan and select the steam menu setting for perfectly cooked vegetables. Did you know, meats and fish can also be steamed?

Looking for more recipe ideas? Zojirushi.com has plenty of exciting recipes you can cook in your Umami rice cooker. Try our Chesapeake Crab Carrot Rice on the Jasmine setting for a fun dish that is effortless to make. Remember, when using our recipes, to note the product the recipe was designed for and adjust accordingly.

Which exciting feature are you looking forward to using on your new Umami Rice Cooker? Be sure to share your dishes with us on social by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

 

Making the Most of your Single Lid Stainless Mugs

Hi Zo’ Fans! Our product of the month for April is our SM-ZA and SM-ZP Stainless Mugs with a one-piece lid. This Stainless Mug actually comes in two models because it comes in multiple sizes, with 8 uplifting colors that are perfect for the season.

The SM-ZA line is simple and sleek, holding up to 20 oz. of your favorite hot or cold beverages or foods. The Pale Orchid and Mint Blue colors add a pretty pop of springtime color, while the Slate Black and Pale White are sophisticated for every occasion.

The SM-ZP line is the smaller, more expressive sibling, topping off at 8 oz. and labeled with cheerful quotes and sketches that take you to relaxing scenes in nature. It’s there to remind you to breathe, take it easy, and enjoy life, as you should! In addition to these graphics, the SM-ZP mugs come in four 2-tone colors, which are Latte Beige (-TZ), Dusty Blue (-AZ), Ash Green (-GZ), and Smokey Pink (-PZ). Cute and stylish, this stainless mug is a great companion to take on-the-go because of its compact design and eye-grabbing colors.

What makes these SM-ZA and SM-ZP Stainless Mugs so unique is that they have a gasket-free, one-piece lid that is easy to clean and prevents the loss of parts. The wide opening makes the drinking experience more like drinking from a regular cup, and the wide opening also accommodates full-size ice cubes for easy filling.

Made with BPA-free plastic and stainless steel, the mugs feature an easy-to-clean nonstick coated interior that is easy to clean in a snap. A special manufacturing technique also ensures that these mugs are ultra-lightweight!

Looking for delicious recipe ideas to carry around in your Stainless Steel mug? Keep scrolling for our suggestions to quench your thirst.

Green Tea White Virgin Sangria

Try this fruit-packed refresher that uses cucumbers, lemon & lime, apples, kiwifruit, as well as green tea, grape juice, and cinnamon. You can use your Zojirushi VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer (CV-DCC40/50) for the boiled water or go old school on the stove.

Zo tip: Have you owned your water boiler for a year? If so, then it’s time to inspect the inner lid gasket and lid for signs of wear. The inner lid gasket or lid should be replaced when it’s becoming rigid, cracking, or experiencing discoloration. Replacement parts for water boilers are available on our Parts & Accessories page.

Oh So Soy Latte

This warm pick-me-up is also a delicious dairy-free treat, combining soy milk, espresso and sugar to your taste. If you like your coffee hot, it’s a good idea to preheat your mug by pouring warm water from a Micom Water Boiler & Warmer (CD-NAC40/50); this ensures that the heat from your drink is not absorbed by the mug and stays in your drink instead.

Zo tip: When warming water in your Zojirushi Water Boiler, don’t put it in the sink when filling: Water boilers have important electric components on the base, and if placed in the sink, they may get wet and damage them. The best way to fill the water boiler is to use a container like a pitcher and fill it. Doing so will ensure all electronic parts are safe and dry.

Fresh Herb Tea

For a simple and aromatic beverage, this tea will become your go-to. Simply set your Micom Water Boiler & Warmer (CD-WCC30/40) to 208°F, and grab some lemongrass, mint stems, and sage leaves.

Zo tip: Did you know that the water boilers need to be descaled with citric acid at least every 3 months? Minerals like calcium will accumulate on the interior surface and, if not cleaned, will cause dispensing issues and may damage the interior. Careful maintenance of your water boiler will ensure its optimal performance. Take a look at our instructional video for step-by-step instructions on how to clean your water boiler.

Which Stainless Mug is your favorite, and where will it take you? Be sure to share your experience with us on social by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

 

 

Mother’s Home Cooking: オムライス Rice Omelet (Omu-rice)

The Japanese Rice Omelet (omurice) is a Western-influenced dish that was invented at the turn of the 20th century. It blends the two English words “omelet” and “rice” for a clever combination that rolls off your tongue – omurice. Omurice is basically an egg omelet filled with a flavorful fried rice center and drizzled (or drenched!) in ketchup. This dish is especially a hit with children, and schools will often serve it as a lunchtime meal. For the adults and the rest of the family craving this dish, it typically takes only 20 minutes to cook, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

History
Omurice is said to have been invented at a Western-inspired restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district when Western-style cafes were becoming widespread. It was so popular that it quickly spread to Korea and Taiwan, and today, different versions of the dish can be found in restaurants all over Asia and in the US.

This type of fusion cuisine that marries Japanese cuisine with influence from the west is referred to as “yōshoku,” and omurice is just one example. As food blog, Pickled Plum says, “An oversimplification of yōshoku is that it is food containing some Western ingredients and flavors, prepared in a style that appeals to the Japanese palate.”

Because of this dish’s high demand, there are some restaurants solely dedicated to making this one dish, and you can find mainstream restaurants in Japan like Denny’s serving this dish as well.

How to Make the Perfect Omurice

The great thing about omurice is that it is completely customizable. There are many ways to make omurice to suit you or your child’s palate. Some suggestions:

Rice:

  • One popular method is to flavor the fried rice with ketchup, which gives the dish a red tinge and a mixture of sweet and savory flavors
  • Chicken rice is the widely accepted filling for this dish, but others can make a vegetarian option if they prefer. The most common veggies include carrots, peas, mushrooms, and onions. Feel free to add other vegetables for a more nutrient-rich meal

Sauce:

  • There are no limitations when it comes to sauce for this dish. Though ketchup is the most commonly used sauce, our recipe calls for some Worcestershire, and soy sauce is another popular addition. For those who love a spicy kick, a squirt of Sriracha or Tabasco will do the trick!
  • No Recipes mentions other sauce alternatives, like the “flavorful sauce from Hayashi Rice(Omuhayashi – オムハヤシ) or Japanese Curry (Omukare – オムカレー), or Meat Sauce (Omumeato – オムミート). For the last one, you could even do away with the rice and add spaghetti, which turns it into Omusupa (オムスパ).”
  • A very common practice is to decorate the omelet with the sauce, making fun shapes and messages using a ketchup squeeze bottle. What will you write on yours?

Omelet:

  • Some say that the omelet is the trickiest part of this dish. In our recipe, we recommend that you make the omelet after making the rice and also suggest adding some milk to add a creamy texture to the egg
  • Others recommend adding some cheese to the egg mixture for more flavor
  • Not an omelet pro? Instead of making an omelet to wrap the rice, you can also just top the dish with fluffy scrambled eggs

 So, are you ready to make your own omurice? Here’s our Zojirushi version of the dish:

Rice Omelet (Japanese Omu-Rice)

Did you enjoy our recipe? How did you customize yours? Let us know on social media by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Lucky We Live California


When I was living in Hawaii as a kid, the newscasters would end every show by saying, “Lucky you live Hawaii” before signing off. And I used to think, “Yeah, I guess they don’t call this paradise for nothing.” But since coming to California, I’m pretty sure there’s no better place on earth than sunny SoCal. Hawaii is OK, but let’s face it, you’re living on a rock and there’s no place to go. Here, even in my own backyard, I can get a shot like this almost any day of the week. This is sunset at Torrance Beach, California.

We live near a luxury resort called Terranea, which draws a lot of tourists to our little corner of the world. I’ve never stayed here, but the grounds are very nice and accessible to anyone who wants to walk around. I played the golf course when it first opened; it was very challenging and designed to be like a smaller version of Pebble Beach, for those of you who are familiar.

If you take the trail down to the coastline, you’ll come across a section of the beach where an artist built a monolith out on the rocks. I have no idea who did it and what it signifies, but it’s eye catching. On very clear days like today, you can see all the way to Catalina Island. I’ve never been there—to be honest it doesn’t interest me because I used to live in Hawaii. What do I need to see another island for? LOL.

The Point Vicente Lighthouse was built in 1926 to warn vessels of the rocky shores off of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It’s over 6 stories high and still throws a bright beam of light 24 miles out to sea that ships can see today, as it flashes twice every 20 seconds so they can navigate the coastline. There’s something romantic about a lighthouse, don’t you think? It’s been featured in many movies over the years, not to mention photographed, sketched and painted. The lonely lighthouse keepers have been replaced by electronic sensors that illuminate it and activate the foghorns.

My daughter went hiking to Eaton Canyon, which is in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains north of Pasadena, only an hour’s drive from us. I think she wanted to get away from us for a while with her BFF, and breathe some fresh air for a change, instead of being stuck in her room!

I don’t think they made it to the Eaton Canyon Falls, where they could have seen a 50ft. waterfall, but the creek still seems so beautifully peaceful, doesn’t it?

These days our entertainment on weekends consists of driving for miles, looking for new and interesting foodie places to eat. It’s become a regular activity for us—the occasional gem that we find is our reward for being so adventurous! It may not be the same as hiking the great outdoors like my daughter, but it’s still exploring. Once in a while you come across some urban artwork as well—this stairway mural is in Silverlake, a hipster area in East L.A. That’s me hiking, city style.

And of course, our lunchtime catch of the day—this is a Hot Catfish Sandwich from a place known for their unusual sandwiches. Until they open indoor seating again, our dining room is our car, and takeout is the way to go. Sorry, tents are too restrictive for me; why bother? If you can balance a takeout container on your knee and you have a cupholder, what more do you need—it’s air-conditioned, too. How many of you guys do the same thing?

Stay safe everybody!

Just For Fun
Years ago, when I lived in Japan, I was introduced to the most amazing iced tea ever—a taste I never experienced in the States. And it was on the regular menu in any coffee shop in Tokyo. It’s called Brandy Tea and it’s a simple drink made with black tea and a dash of brandy. The alcohol is barely there at all, but noticeable enough to give this iced tea a fragrant accent. Here’s my recipe for it; feel free to strengthen or weaken, but remember, it’s not meant to be an alcoholic drink. I used Earl Grey tea which refines the flavor, but sometimes I think ordinary tea bags give it a better body. It also doesn’t hurt to use the good stuff like a cognac.

Bert’s Brandy Iced Tea
1000ml. water (about 4.25 cups)
2 tea bags
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp brandy
Brew sun tea in a pitcher of water to desired strength. Take out tea bags and stir in the sugar. Add brandy, stir and pour over ice. That’s it!

Try this in your Zojirushi mug and take it with you. 😎

 

Photo credits: all images by Bert Tanimoto
Zojirushi products used in this post: Flip-and-Go SM-QHE48/60, SM-SG48