Twas the Night for Zojirushi (revisited)

rice bowl with santa
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house--
Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.
And just when even a mouse wouldn't squeak,
The Zojirushi products decided to speak!

rice cookerThe Rice Cooker said, "They can't live without me.
Rice is a staple, their dinners need me.
Whatever the side dish, whatever the soup,
You need fluffy rice, to complete the group."

Honey brick toast drizzled with honey“You’re wrong you know,” the Breadmaker said.
"What staple is there, other than bread?
I can bake it fresh, and it smells so good,
Their mornings are mine, that's understood."

water boilerWait just a minute. Wait for the spoiler!
“That's not how this ends,” chimed the Water Boiler.
"It all starts with water and I heat it with ease.
Tea drinkers love me, everyone agrees."

shepherd's pie coming out of oven“So what? Big deal.” said the Toaster Oven.
“I can toast bagels or an English muffin.
I can bake a cake or a whole lasagna
I’m the one and only, I’m tryin’ to tell ya!”

insulated drink mugs"Ah, but here's one thing that's wrong with y’all.
You guys are stuck here, you're plugged to the wall!”
The Stainless Mugs just started to smile;
“We’re tall and sleek, we’re a lifestyle.”

miso soup served in food jarsThe Food Jars, they heard this discussion.
They said, "We agree, we second that motion!
We’re essential, maybe the best of the bunch.
Without us, how can you enjoy your lunch?”

flat griddleAnd that Gourmet guy, you know the one--
that Tabletop Griddle who has all the fun.
The life of the party, always looking so chic;
let out a sigh and rose up to speak.

"Hold it, listen you all. You're missing the point!
It's not who's great, or who rocks this joint.
We all serve a purpose; we follow a plan.
We make life easier whenever we can.

We all love to cook, and that's the truth.
We satisfy cravings, or any sweet tooth.
So let's enjoy what we do--we are truly blessed.
It's not about skill, or who is the best.”

A sudden silence then came over the kitchen.
The arguing stopped and they started to listen.
The Zojirushi spirit is alive and well.
"He's right, good point! They started to yell."

And so it was on that Holiday night,
with the fire in embers and the stars out of sight,
a commotion was settled, the rebellion rejected.
Peace came again, with the kitchen protected.

Zojirushi products were once again quiet
They knew better than to start a riot.
It’s so much better to give up the strife—
they started Treasuring Everyday Life.


(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Click on images to see past posts from Bert-san



Products used in this post: Rice Cooker NW-QAC10/18, Breadmaker BB-PDC20, Water Boiler CV-JAC40/50, Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Stainless Mugs SM-VA60/72, Food Jars SW-KA52H/75H, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Atsu Atsu: Exploring the Heartwarming Comfort of Oden

Zojirushi electric skillet filled with hot oden and a plate served on the side with a pair of chopsticks and mustard dipping sauceOden, also known as Japanese hot pot, is a culinary gem that warms the heart and soul. It is often associated with communal gatherings and celebrations in Japan, such as welcoming in the New Year or celebrating festivals during the winter months. Traditionally, oden comprises various ingredients like daikon radish, konnyaku (a jelly-like ingredient), boiled eggs, and fish cakes, all simmered in a soy-based broth. The slow simmering process allows flavors to meld together, creating a harmonious blend that’s both soothing and satisfying. In this blog, we’ll explore everything you need to know about oden, from its history, flavor, and cultural significance. We’ll even share how you can make an easy pot of oden at home with Zojirushi.

History of Oden

The history of oden can be traced back to the late 19th century when it emerged as a popular street food in Japan. Street vendors would set up stalls, particularly during the chilly winter months, to serve this warming dish to passersby. The dish’s humble beginnings reflect its role as a comforting and affordable meal for the masses.

Oden’s origins can be traced back to a dish called “dengaku,” which was simply tofu grilled over an open flame and topped with a miso sauce. Dengaku was a popular dish among Buddhist monks, who would eat it during the winter months to stay warm. Over time, dengaku evolved into oden, with new ingredients added to the broth, such as daikon radish, konnyaku, and fish cakes. The dish became more widely available as restaurants and food stalls began serving it.

Oden quickly gained popularity as a winter staple thanks to its heartwarming and nourishing qualities. Simmering various ingredients in a communal pot created a sense of warmth and togetherness, making it a perfect choice for gatherings with family and friends during the cold season. Today, oden remains a popular dish throughout Japan. It is enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. Oden is often served as a snack or light meal but can also be eaten as a main course.

The Meaning of “Atsu Atsu

Atsu atsu (あつあつ) is a Japanese onomatopoeia that describes something that is hot or steaming. It is often used to describe oden, as the dish is typically served piping hot. The word “atsu atsu” perfectly captures the essence of oden, a dish that is both heartwarming and comforting. Atsu atsu can also be used to describe other foods that are hot, such as ramen, soup, and tempura. It can also describe other things that are hot, such as a bath or a sauna. So, the next time you enjoy a piping hot bowl of soup, you can say, “atsu atsu!”

Wooden tray with internal metal compartments filled with broth and oden ingredients like fish cakes, eggs, and daikon; a wooden ladle in the foreground with a daikon round

Regional Variations of Oden

As oden spread across Japan, it underwent regional adaptations, reflecting local tastes and available ingredients. Different regions began to develop their own styles of oden, incorporating popular or abundant ingredients in their areas. This regional diversity is one of the hallmarks of oden. Here are a few examples of regional variations of oden that you might find:

Kanto-style oden: Kanto-style odenis the most common type of oden, characterized by its soy sauce-based broth. Popular ingredients in Kanto-style odeninclude daikon radish, konnyaku, boiled eggs, and fish cakes.

  • Kansai-style oden: Kansai-style oden is characterized by its sweeter broth, made with a combination of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Popular ingredients in Kansai-style oden include beef tendon, tofu, and chikuwa (a type of fish cake).
  • Hokkaido-style oden: Hokkaido-style oden is characterized by its smoky flavor, which comes from cooking the ingredients over an open flame. Popular ingredients in Hokkaido-style oden include seafood, such as scallops and crab, and vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots.

Wooden table in the background with a deep plate filled with oden like an egg, konyaku noodles, fish cake and radish; served with a side of pickles and a glass of water.

Popular Oden Ingredients

Oden is a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and the great thing about it is that you can truly make it your own! People often add their own favorite ingredients to oden, such as meatballs, shrimp, or vegetables. Some people also like adding different condiments to their oden, such as Japanese mustard, shichimi togarashi (seven-spice blend), or grated daikon radish.

Some of the most popular oden ingredients include:

  • Daikon radish: Daikon radish is a Japanese radish known for its mild flavor and crunchy texture. It is a popular ingredient in oden because it absorbs the broth well and adds a touch of sweetness.
  • KonnyakuKonnyaku is a jelly-like ingredient made from the corm of the devil’s tongue yam. It is a popular ingredient in oden because it is low in calories and fat and has a unique texture.
  • Boiled eggs: Boiled eggs are a classic oden ingredient. They add protein and flavor to the broth.
  • Fish cakes: There are many different types of fish cakes used in oden. Some popular types include chikuwasatsumaage (a deep-fried fish cake), and hanpen (a steamed fish cake).
  • Meatballs: Meatballs are a popular addition to oden. They add protein and flavor to the broth.
  • Vegetables: Some popular vegetables used in oden include potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.
How to Make Oden at HomeZojirushi electric skilled filled with broth and various oden ingredients like fish cake, sausage, daikon, tomatoes, eggs, and stuffed cabbage.

Now, let’s bring the heartwarming comfort of oden into your kitchen. Here’s a simple guide to making oden at home with your Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50). The great thing about this recipe is that you can set it and forget it; before you know it, dinner is served! Click here for the full recipe.

Bowl filled with various oden ingredients

Oden’s food history is a testament to the enduring appeal of this heartwarming dish. From its humble beginnings as street food to its role as a beloved winter staple, oden has continued to evolve and adapt while remaining a symbol of comfort and togetherness in Japanese cuisine. Its regional variations and enduring popularity in modern times showcase the timeless nature of this culinary treasure. How do you like to make your oden? Make sure to show us how you use your tumbler throughout the day by sharing your comments and tagging us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Tumblers: The Ultimate Guide

Man sitting on a blue sofa and with a lap top on his lap, and a light blue tumbler in his left hand and the lid with a handle on his right hand.

Happy November, Zo Fans!

This month, we’re excited to delve into the world of our stainless steel tumblers – your versatile and stylish companion for hydration on the go. Whether you’re enjoying a hot cup of coffee on your commute or a cold glass of iced tea on a hot summer day, a Zojirushi tumbler will keep your drink refreshing and delicious any time of year. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about our tumblers, from all our different models available to their top features and specifications. Let’s dive in!

What’s the Difference Between a Tumbler and a Mug? 

Man sitting on a desk in front of a laptop holding a light cinnamon brown tumbler in his left hand

Zojirushi offers a range of vacuum insulated beverage containers, including mugs and bottles, so you don’t have to worry about which ones are vacuum insulated and which ones are not. While Zojirushi has many types of vacuum insulated products, you may wonder how tumblers differ from mugs. Tumblers come with a wider mouth opening, making them ideal for coffee or tea. They are also easier to fill and clean than stainless steel mugs. In addition, many tumblers come with leak-proof lids. Both tumblers and mugs are convenient for travel, and some of Zojirushi’s tumblers even come with handles.

Meet the Models

Three tumblers with a handle in diagonal formation, in colors blue, white and brown in this order.

The Stainless Tea Tumbler with Handle is made for tea lovers, inspired by a traditional purple clay teapot with a sleek and porous finish that gives you another dimension to your tea-sipping experience. Featuring a dual infuser and strainer that can brew various cold brew or loose-leaf teas, this tumbler’s lid conveniently turns into an infuser stand, and the tumbler’s opening even features a curved lip design for an elevated tea-drinking experience. This tumbler has a 16-ounce capacity and three colors: Prussian Blue, Off White, and Brown.

The Stainless Carry Tumbler is the perfect sidekick, with its signature one-piece, screw off lid that doubles as a handle. The lid is gasket free, so there is no need to take anything apart, making it easier to clean, and the tumbler itself is light, weighing only 9 oz. This tumbler will keep your hot beverages hot; after 6 hours, the internal temperature will be 133°F, and cold drinks will be at a chilly 50°F. Choose from four colors: Watery Green, Vintage Rose, Fog Blue, and Forest Gray.

This Stainless Carry Tumbler has an 11-ounce capacity and a wide mouth opening for easy filling and cleaning. Instead of a screw off, this tumbler features a Flip Lid with clip-style safety lock that prevents the lid from opening accidentally. The lid is also one-piece and gasket-free and designed to minimize condensation from forming. This tumbler can keep hot drinks hot at 129°F after 6 hrs and cold drinks under 50°F cold after 6 hrs. Choose from Vintage Rose, Cinnamon Beige, or Forest Gray.

This 15 oz. tumbler features a unique twist and seal, spill-resistant lid with a removable tea leaf strainer for direct brewing and sipping. It’s the best of both worlds! With a 3″ opening, it is easy to fill and clean. This tumbler can keep hot drinks extra hot, retaining temperatures up to 180°F after 6 hrs, and cold drinks under 45°F cold after 6 hrs. Choose from four different colors: White, Coral Pink, Navy, and Blue Gray.

If you like simple, sleek, and elegant, this stainless silver tumbler is for you. From hot tea to an ice-cold beer, this tumbler has the range. With a 15 oz. capacity and 3″ mouth opening, this tumbler can keep hot drinks hot at 118°F after 6 hrs, and cold drinks under 45°F cold for 6 hrs.

Features & Specifications

Did you know that our very first product was a glass-lined vacuum bottle, all the way back in 1918? Safe to say, we know our way around vacuum insulation and we’ve been perfecting the art of the technology for over 100 years. Here are some of the features we promise with every Zojirushi tumbler:

  • Keeps drinks hot or cold for hours on end. Zojirushi tumblers use vacuum insulation to keep drinks at the perfect temperature for hours. This means that there is a vacuum between the inner and outer layers of each tumbler, which blocks heat transfer through air.
  • Durable and long-lasting. Zojirushi tumblers are made with high-quality steel, and our SlickSteel® polished stainless steel interior makes every tumbler stain-resistant, odor-resistant, and allows the color of your beverage to shine through.
  • Easy to clean. Zojirushi tumblers are dishwasher-safe, making them easy to clean, and feature wide openings so you can hand wash them with ease as well.
  • Stylish and versatile. Zojirushi tumblers come in a variety of colors and styles, so you can find one that matches your personality and lifestyle.
  • Always safe. Like all Zojirushi products, surfaces that come into contact with food or beverages are BPA-free.

Now that you know everything there is to know about Zojirushi tumblers, which one will you pick? Are you already a Zojirushi Tumbler owner? We want to see it in action! Show us how you use your tumbler throughout the day by sharing your comments and tagging us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Thankful For My Hainan Chicken Rice

I guess at my age, I don’t have to think really hard to appreciate what I’ve got. I’ve never been one to be envious or jealous of my neighbor, or complain about what I don’t have, so it doesn’t take much to keep me happy. Some might say that’s great, some may say that’s why I don’t have more. I say it’s a byproduct of having experienced the hippie generation, when material things were frowned upon in the name of simple peace and love. (Best excuse!)

Take my Hainan Chicken Rice, for example. I’m grateful that I can cook it and steam the Chinese broccoli all in my rice cooker.

Hainan Chicken Rice shown in rice cooker before cooking

The natural chicken broth seeps into the jasmine rice as it cooks, and the steamer basket takes care of the broccoli. I found out that this is a signature Singaporean dish, brought over from the Hainan province in Southern China.

This is what both dishes look like right out of the rice cooker.

Hainan Chicken completely cooked in rice cooker

Chinese broccoli steamed in rice cooker

Homemade Hainan Chicken Rice. The ginger scallion sauce is a simple topping you can find easily online, and Hoisin sauce was sprinkled on the broccoli. This is good stuff, just using our rice cooker!

Hainan Chicken Rice plated showing Ginger Scallion Sauce

I am thankful for my electric griddle, which continues to be a really handy appliance to have in our kitchen. We have the takoyaki plate that fits into the griddle, which is a treat sometimes when we’re craving these.

Takoyaki cooking on hot plate

Out of all the jobs I’ve had in my life, the four years I spent in Japan were the most influential and memorable that I can keep with me forever. And that includes the foods I ate that really opened my eyes to Japanese cuisine. It’s so much more than sushi and ramen, you know? I’ll always look back at my summers in Japan as the most excruciatingly sticky and uncomfortable seasons ever, but also the best time for all the fun festivals going on. Takoyaki and yakisoba are best eaten from paper trays at your local town festival during summertime.

Takoyaki plated with condiments added

Yakisoba on griddle

By the way, just to let you know you can switch from the takoyaki plate to the flat griddle instantly to make these two summer classics at home.

Do you know what else I’m thankful for? I’m thankful I was raised Asian-American. Think about how lucky I am to know both cultures, having been around both worlds since I was born. This is one of the reasons I never let my kids forget that when they were growing up. A big part of keeping that alive is the food that we eat everyday. I think we take that for granted sometimes, but to be able to appreciate good food from whatever culture or cultures that make up your background is essential. And it only gets more important the older we get.

My Mom always used to make meatloaf when we were kids. And the tradition continues today.

And don’t forget the potatoes…

What are you guys thankful for this Thanksgiving? Don’t let it pass without giving it some thought—it’ll do wonders for your day.

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Umami® Micom Rice Cooker NL-GAC10/18, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-BDC10, Takoyaki Plate EA-YBC01

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

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

Shaki Shaki: Exploring the World of Japanese Pickles (Tsukemono)

Pickling is both an art form and a science in Japan, taking on a spectrum of textures, flavors, and colors. Whether served in simple bento lunches or multi-course kaiseki feasts, these side dishes are always a special part of each meal. If you’re new to Japanese pickles, let us introduce you to these nutrient-packed, crunchy, and delicious side dishes.

A white round plate with sliced pickles and a long black plate with whole veggie pickles.

The Art of Pickling in Japan

Pickles in Japan can encompass a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and even seafood that are preserved in a mixture of salt, vinegar, and other seasonings. “Shaki shaki” (シャキシャキ) is an onomatopoeic term that describes the crisp and crunchy texture of fresh vegetables and is a testament to the satisfying crunch of a well-made pickle. The next time you enjoy a perfect pickle, remember to say “shaki shaki“!

In Japanese cuisine, pickles are categorized into several types, each with its own distinct preparation method and flavor profile. Here are the most common ones:

  • Salty Pickles (Shiozuke): These pickles are preserved in salt and often include vegetables like cucumbers, radishes, and eggplants. The salt draws out excess moisture, leaving the vegetables with a pleasing crunch. The salty and savory notes make them a perfect accompaniment to rice.
  • Sweet Pickles (Amazuzuke): As the name suggests, these pickles are sweet and tangy. They are often made using sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce, resulting in a delightful contrast of flavors. Daikon radish and ginger are commonly used for amazuzuke.

Red lacquer tray with a small plate with pickled plums

  • Sour Pickles (Suzuke): These pickles are typically preserved in vinegar, which imparts a zesty and tangy flavor. One well-known example is “umeboshi,” or pickled plums, which have a strong sour taste and are used sparingly due to their intensity.
  • Fermented Pickles (Nukazuke): Nukazuke involves fermenting vegetables in a rice bran mixture known as “nuka.” This method imparts a complex umami flavor and is often used for veggies like cucumbers and radishes. The fermentation process can take several weeks, resulting in a unique depth of flavor.

Cultural Significance

Top view of four plate filled with various side dishes and picklesBeyond their culinary appeal, pickles hold cultural significance in Japan. They are a symbol of preservation and resourcefulness, as pickling allowed people to enjoy vegetables year-round, even in the absence of fresh produce. Additionally, pickles are often associated with celebrations and rituals, such as the Japanese New Year’s tradition of eating “osechi ryori,” a special assortment of dishes that includes various types of pickles.

Health Benefits of Pickles

In addition to being delicious, Japanese pickles also offer a range of health benefits. Many types of pickles are low in calories and fat, and the fermentation process involved in some pickles, such as nukazuke and some kimchi varieties, promotes the growth of probiotics—beneficial bacteria that support gut health and digestion. These probiotics contribute to a balanced gut microbiome, potentially aiding immune function and nutrient absorption.

Furthermore, pickled vegetables often retain the nutritional value of the vegetables used, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Pickled daikon radish is a good source of vitamin C, while pickled cucumbers provide essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin K. Antioxidants in certain pickles may also help combat oxidative stress in the body. When enjoyed as part of a well-rounded diet, Japanese pickles can be a flavorful and nutritious choice that supports overall well-being.

Exploring the Diversity of Japanese Pickles

White rectangular plate with a variety of Japanese pickles

Japan’s regional diversity is reflected in its pickles, with each area boasting its own unique specialties. For example, Kyoto is known for its “senmai-zuke,” thinly sliced pickled vegetables, while Hiroshima is famous for “fukujinzuke,” a spicy pickle blend served with okonomiyaki. The next time you enjoy a Japanese meal, pay attention to the pickles on your plate – they are not just side dishes but a vibrant expression of tradition and taste.

Whether you’re a fan of salty, sweet, sour, or fermented flavors, there’s a pickle for everyone to love in Japanese cuisine! Have you tried Japanese pickles before? Where and how have you tried them? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan Continue reading