National Picnic Month

August is National Picnic Month! What’s the best thing about a picnic? It’s cheap to do and everything tastes better outdoors, ha-ha! I brought some friends along from Zojirushi this month—wanna see where we went?

This park near my house is called Robert E. Ryan Community Park, unique for being right next to the 14th Hole at Los Verdes Golf Course. Back when I used to golf a lot, this was one of my favorite courses to play. There were always families picnicking at this park as we drove around in our golf carts, getting ready to tee off on this hole. This view is from the other side, with our sushi bento and drinks of ice cold mugi-cha, or barley tea. The sushi box is from a mom and pop store that’s been around since 1962; more on that later.

One night (for my birthday) we decided to pack supper and go see a show at the Hollywood Bowl®, which is what you do when you want to drink wine, eat cheese and party with friends. Since we’re not the wine and cheese type, our family brought chicken wings and salads.

This was a good idea, especially with the food jars. You don’t worry about spillage, and since it takes a while to get there from our house, you don’t worry about spoilage.

If anyone else wants to go sometime, my advice is to take advantage of the shuttles that leave from several locations nearby. They leave every 15 minutes and costs $20, plus your car is secure and the shuttle goes right up to the front gate. You can park in the lots, but be prepared that it’s “stacked parking”, which means cars block you in so there’s no early exit. We parked in the mall on Hollywood Blvd. and it was pretty painless.

If you don’t believe me about the crowds, here’s a shot of our pilgrimage, as we slowly made our way in toward the sunset.

This isn’t exactly a picnic, but since this is one our favorite burger joints we brought the mugs along so we wouldn’t have to buy sodas there. Did you know that a typical fountain soda costs the restaurant about 13 to 16 cents to make? That’s including the cup, straw and lid. How much did yours cost today? Yeah, I’d rather be spending my money on the food, thanks. Bonus points to you if you know which burger this is. Hint: as far as the ongoing debate on which one is better, this chain from the East Coast or the rival one from the West Coast, I don’t think it’s even close. I’ll take the local one every time.

My weakness for donuts is well documented. You caught me red-handed with my haul from our local shop. Let’s see—what do we have here? Chocolate Rounds (they use good chocolate that doesn’t taste cheap), the classic Glazed (great texture on the inside) and the exotic Butter Crumb Raised (they don’t always have this one). I filled my bottle with unsweetened iced black tea for this car dining experience.

You’ve probably seen this park before if you read my blog. It’s called Los Arboles, more affectionately known by us locals as Rocketship Park. It sits atop a hill above my house and I can go there for a quick sandwich during the day, or catch a great view of the city at night. I have memories of bringing my kids when they were little—I taught both of them how to ride their bikes here. It connects with an elementary school, where both of my kids went.

Let’s get back to that sushi box bento from Sakae Sushi, a family run business now in its third generation, located in Gardena, California. To any Japanese-American who grew up in this area, Sakae Sushi is an institution, a home style alternative to the high brow sushi places ubiquitous to SoCal. I think their sushi has a distinct sweetness that some people might find over-vinegared, but to me, that’s what makes me keep coming back. The sushi reflects their origins from the Kansai, or Western region of Japan.

1. Inari: Rice stuffed in seasoned deep-fried tofu pouches that we call “footballs”.

2. Date-maki: A flavorful egg omelet rolled around equally flavorful ingredients inside.

3. Ebi Hako-sushi: Pressed in a box shaped mold and topped with seasoned shrimp.

4. Saba Hako-sushi: Topped with a cured mackerel called shime saba.

5. Futo-maki: Meaning “fat roll”, the ingredients differ with the style of the region.

6. California roll: We all know this one.

Happy National Picnic Month everyone! Get out and enjoy the warm weather!

 

 

 

Products used in this post: PAC-MAN™ x ZOJIRUSHI Stainless Mug SM-SHE48PA, ZOJIRUSHI x HELLO KITTY® Stainless Mug SM-TA48KT, ZOJIRUSHI x HELLO KITTY® Stainless Steel Food Jar SW-EAE50KT

Sushi bento from Sakae Sushi

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

 

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Green Tea with Zojirushi

If you’re a tea lover like us, you’ll know that brewing tea is a true art form. From white, green, black, herbal, and more, there are many different types of teas that have their own unique characteristics. Today, we’ll be diving into all the ways you can brew green tea, and yes there is more than one!

Green Tea 101

Green teas are by far one of the most popular types of tea that are consumed in Japan, and across the world. Originally from China, the main differentiator between green tea and others is that green tea is not oxidized (exposed to air). Tea leaves are either pan-fired or steamed to stop the oxidation process, resulting in either toasted and nutty notes, or clean, vegetal flavors. Because of this, green tea leaves are typically more delicate and require lower water temperatures to avoid burning the leaves.

Zojirushi water boilers are equipped to warm water to different temperatures, starting at 160°F, which is the recommended water temperature for green teas. The exception to this is matcha green tea, which is a powdered green tea that requires thorough whisking before consumption. We recommend preparing matcha with water that is around 175°F.

Water boilers like our Zojirushi VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50 have this temperature as a preset option, so you can easily swap between temperatures at the click of a button.

How to Prepare Different Types of Green Tea

Now, let’s talk about how to brew tea so that it comes out perfectly balanced. Brew for a moment too long, and you’ll end up with a drink that’s overly bitter. Use the wrong temperature, and your tea may taste “burnt”. Here are a couple of factors that will make a difference when brewing tea:

  • Water: Use clean, filtered water, or spring water if available and use the proper water temperature for the type of tea you are brewing. If you do not have a Zojirushi water boiler, boil your water in a separate vessel and wait a few minutes for it to cool. Never brew your tea with boiling water.
  • Timing: Gently, add your green tea sachet or loose leaf tea in a tea strainer to your water and let it steep the appropriate amount of time. Most green tea need about 1 to 2 minutes to develop the flavors. Remove tea completely and enjoy! If you want to enjoy your tea all day remember, use your Zojirushi insulated mugs to keep your beverages hot for hours.

Sencha: Is a Japanese green tea that is popular in Japan. The leaves are harvested only from the tops of the tea bushes which receive the most sunlight. Set your Zojirushi water boiler at 175°F  when brewing sencha and let it steep for 1-2 minutes. A cup of perfectly brewed sencha will be light yellowing green and will have a fresh herbal flavor.  

Gyokuro: This high-quality green tea is full bodied with a rich aroma and a touch of sweetness which is achieved by growing this tea under a shade about 3 weeks before harvesting. Brew at 160°F and let it steep for a 1-1/2 to 2 minutes to enjoy and don’t forget that the leaves can be used up to 3 times!

Matcha: The key to preparing the best cup of matcha is to use water at 175°F and to whisk it rapidly in a zig zag motion. Once you see a thick foam then it’s ready to be enjoyed! Visit our recipe page for more instructions on preparing this and other teas with your Zojirushi water boiler.

Make it Personal

Now that you know the basic guidelines on how to brew your tea, remember that tea is a very personal experience that you can and should change to your liking. Try different steeping times. Maybe you only need to steep for a minute, or maybe you like to let it steep longer. Try different types of tea and notice how they may have different aromas, flavor profiles, and textures.

Do you have your own special way of brewing tea? Let us know by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Product of the Month: Zojirushi Fresh Brew Vacuum Insulated Stainless French Press SK-XAE10

Hi Zo Fans! Are you ready to meet our product of the month? The Zojirushi Fresh Brew Vacuum Insulated Stainless French Press SK-XAE10 is the first French Press to join our Zojirushi Coffee Maker lineup, with many unique features and capabilities that we’re excited to tell you about. Made with our famous vacuum insulating technology, this sleek and easy-to-clean French Press is the perfect way to enjoy your daily coffee at home or at the office. Let’s get to it!

Why Should I Use a French Press?

If you’re wondering why you might want to use a French Press coffee maker as opposed to a drip coffee maker, here are a few of our top reasons:

  • Flavor: Since there is no paper filter being used, more of the oils from the coffee beans can make it into the French Press brew, giving your coffee a richer and more complex taste.
  • Control: When you use a French Press, you are able to have more control over the taste of your coffee by determining how hot you want your water to be, how long you want to steep your coffee grinds, and how much coffee you like to use. All of these factors will change the outcome of your coffee. You can get experimental to find out how you like your coffee best!
  • Easy and Convenient: Lastly, we love our French Press because it is a low-maintenance that you can use it anywhere, anytime. As long as you have coffee grinds and hot water, you can make delicious coffee wherever you are! Take it with you to the office, your next vacation spot, or your next camping trip!

Zojirushi French Press SK-XAE10 Specifications

Now, let’s dive into what makes our Zojirushi French Press unique. We put a lot of thought into its design to make sure that you can make delicious coffee every single time. Here’s why:

On the outside, the Zojirushi French Press features an elegant and sleek design that is BPA-free, like all Zojirushi products. You won’t have to worry about burning yourself while serving your coffee with our easy-grip, cool-touch handle, and the dribble-reducing spout will prevent spillage while serving. Our design also features a high-quality double-wall stainless steel vacuum insulated construction that can maintain heat of 162°F (72°C) for up to 2 hours, so you can sip and enjoy your coffee at your own pace.

The inside of the Zojirushi French Press coffee maker features an exclusive Taste Shield Plunger that protects coffee from becoming over-extracted and chalky, and the Half-Blocked Filter Plate and Grit Block Disk keep any over-extracted coffee and sediment from flowing out. You’ll also see a clearly marked maximum water level line, which makes filling the French Press with the right amount of water convenient and easy. 

Effortless to maintain, the Zojirushi French Press SK-XAE10’s 1 liter capacity allows you to brew up to four cups of coffee at a time and includes a coffee scoop that takes the guesswork out when brewing the perfect cup of coffee your French Press. The French Press features a lid that can be completely disassembled and its wide opening makes cleaning easy and simple.

What do you think of our new French Press? Are you a French Press fan or a Drip Coffee fan? Share your thoughts with us on social by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi

National Grilling Month

It’s National Grilling Month alright, but it’s also National Hot Dog Month. How can you not write about hot dogs? Grilling them is one thing, but how you grill the humble hot dog is another. I took a page from some other guys who have tried this (thank you, The Kitchn) and used different methods to grill the same wiener. Which one wins? I didn’t even have to break out the charcoal because I used my Zojirushi Electric Grill.

I baked my own buns too, which wasn’t that hard if you let a Breadmaker do the dough. Here’s my homemade hot dog buns coming out of the Toaster Oven. I gotta say I’ll do better next time—they look great, but I don’t think I let the dough rise enough.

Hot Dog Cuts

I thought this was a fun way to see which way was best when grilling a hot dog. From left to right:

1. The Fish Scale Cut: Slant cuts on either side of the hot dog in an alternating pattern down its length. This is a variation on the multi-slits you normally see on a hot dog (which is the way I usually do it), that allows for faster and better cooking all the way to the inside.

2. The Cross Hatch Cut: You can’t see it, but this pattern is also done on the other side of the hot dog. I thought this was definitely the prettiest way to present the hot dog.

3. The Spiral Corkscrew: A unique way to expose the inside and the most difficult cut to execute. I think a machine can do it much nicer than I did it, but you should try it. It’s a fun way to eat a hot dog. More on how I did it later.

4. The Open Face: Obviously the best way to get char marks on the outside as well as the inside, and the best way to cook it faster. Flattening it out like this also opens the hot dog up to other ways to eat it, like a sandwich for example. I grilled two like this and laid them side-by-side, on regular bread.

5. The Classic: Just simple grilling the whole hot dog is the way to do it for the purists. It takes a bit longer and you can’t really see what’s going on inside, but it plumps up just the same. My unscientific guess is that this way might keep the internal temperature warmer longer?

Here’s how the Spiral Corkscrew is done. First skewer the hot dog right through the middle, being careful to go straight so you don’t pierce the side. Get a knife and cut through the hot dog at a slant, all the way to the stick. Turn the hot dog and skewer as you slice, staying diagonal and cutting down to the stick. It’s a bit tricky, but you can get the hang of it.

Once you remove the stick, voila! A corkscrew cut, all in one piece!

To be honest, I can’t really say which hot dog cut came out the best. They all pretty much tasted the same because, well, they’re hot dogs. But I’ll say one thing, the corkscrew hot dog does a great job of holding the condiments in between each cut, and it was as juicy as the others.Before you troll me for putting ketchup on my hot dog, I’m not a hot dog snob so anything goes. Just don’t put sauerkraut on mine.

Shrimp on the Barbie

Since a hot dog alone does not a dinner make, I also grilled some fresh veggies to make up for the “guilty pleasure” wieners. I highly recommend this way of lazy cooking. I used this seasoning blend called “Green Goddess” from Trader Joe’s (I can’t show you the bottle but you’ll find it in the store), and used it to season the shrimp in olive oil and parsley.

I had the grill a little past medium because I knew the shrimp would cook fast, and it did. But the vegetables didn’t take that much longer. I didn’t season them because I figured I could always use ponzu as a dipping sauce (that’s my favorite way to eat them anyway). So here is a really quick and easy dinner that truly tasted so good that even my wife was surprised. Aargh! This means she’s going to make me do it again!

Happy Grilling Month! And by the way, which side of the argument do you fall on? Is a Hot Dog a sandwich, or not?

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10, Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

A Guide to Different Types of Rice

You might be familiar with white and brown rice, and perhaps even a few others, but did you know there are thousands of types of rice found around all corners of the world? From basmati, wild, long-grain, and short-grain rice, there are countless families of rice that you can explore to broaden your culinary horizons. Today, we’ll be looking at the main families of rice that you should know about, as well as the types of rice you can cook in our Zojirushi rice cookers. So, are you ready to become a rice expert? Then, let’s get to it!

Rice Types
Though rice comes in many unique shapes, colors, and flavors, there are two main families of rice that you should familiarize yourself with: Indica and Japonica. Indica is long-grained and aromatic rice that grows near the equator, so you’ll see them in countries like India, Indonesia, Southern China, and Africa. Japonica rice is short to medium-grained, which, unlike Indica, has little to no aromas. They also tend to stick together, whereas Indica grains will remain separated. You can find this type of rice in East Asia, like Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam. Fun fact: Indica is more widely consumed than Japonica!

Here are some of the most popular rice varieties that we recommend you try if you haven’t already:

  1. Arborio Rice: This short to medium-grain rice from Italy has a high starch content and becomes firm yet creamy when cooked. They are often used for risottos and can be easily identified by their short and round grains.
  2. Basmati Rice: this rice is known for its pandan leaf-like aromatics and soft and fluffy texture.
  3. Black Rice: Commonly referred to as “forbidden rice,” this purple to black-hued rice boasts a wide range of health benefits and antioxidants. It has a mild nutty flavor and is harder to grow than other rice varieties.
  4. GABA rice: The brown rice version of sushi rice is “GABA,” which means that the rice has been germinated to increase its nutritional value. Look for this labeling on your rice if you are looking for this particular type of rice. Or if your Zojirushi rice cooker has the GABA brown rice setting you can use that instead of buying it!
  5. Jasmine Rice:this rice is widely consumed in Thailand and is beautifully aromatic. It is slightly shorter and plumper than Basmati.
  6. Sticky/Glutinous Rice: Also known as “sticky rice,” sweet rice has a sweeter flavor because of its higher starch content. As the name suggests, it also becomes very sticky when cooked. You cannot cook sweet rice like regular white rice and must use less water and controlled temperatures to get it to its ideal texture.
  7. Sushi rice: polished short to medium-grain Japanese rice that is highly desired for its stickiness and fluffiness. It is almost always consumed as a white rice variety.
  8. Wild Rice: Wild rice is long-grain rice native to North America and is almost always brown or black in color. It is high in nutritional value and has a distinctly earthy and smoky flavor when cooked.

How to Cook Rice in Your Zojirushi Rice Cooker

If you read this month’s Product of the Month blog, you’ll see that the Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-TSC10A/18A can cook up to five different rice categories (white/sushi, mixed, quick, long grain white, and brown). Now that you understand the difference between Indica and Japonica rice, can you guess why these different types of rice cooking settings matter? Here are some Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-TSC10A/18A settings, explained:

  • Mixed – though this setting doesn’t specify a type of rice, it is useful for cooking Takikomi-Gohan, a popular menu item in Japan. These “mixed rice” one-pot meals are made by adding seasonal ingredients and rice into the rice cooker and pressing start.
  • Long grain white – this rice setting will make sure that your long grain white rice is always loose and fluffy. You can also add a few seasonings to level it up like this “Buttered Lobster Rice” recipe.
  • Brown rice – we tested tons and tons of brown rice to carefully fine tune the cooking flow for this setting to ensure that the brown rice is always perfectly cooked. Here are some great and easy recipes that you’ll want to try with your brown rice.

To learn more about how to cook different types of rice in your Zojirushi rice cooker, take a look at our “Know Your Rice” guide. You can also find tips and tricks to cook perfect rice by visiting our “About Rice” page.
Do you learn anything about rice varieties today? Is there a new type of rice you’re looking forward to trying? Let us know on social media by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan