Foreign Foods in Japan – Hayashi Raisu (or Rice)

We love Japanese food. All kinds. Traditional home cooking. Haute cuisine. Festival food. Seasonal comfort food. Regional specialties. Sweet. Savory. Spicy. But even we can’t get over craving yoshoku food.

Yoshoku is one of the two main categories of Japanese cuisine – yoshoku and washoku – and refers to foreign foods that have been adapted to Japanese tastes, using ingredients typically found in Japanese cooking. Simply put, yoshoku food means “Western food” whereas washoku food means “Japanese food”.

Yoshoku food is so prevalent in Japan that many cooks believe it is now Japanese. But its origins are much more recent than traditional Japanese food culture. Yoshoku-style cooking became prevalent in Japan during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), and continued on through the post-World War II years. During the Meiji Period, emissaries from many nations, including China, England and France, visited Japan, bringing resources and sharing knowledge. Also, during that time, Japanese delegations traveled the world, learning about the cultures and habits of much of the West. This vibrant time resulted in an exchange of foods and this year, we’re going to delve into the deliciousness of popular yoshoku dishes.

Hayashi raisu

Hayashi Raisu (or Rice) is one of the easiest and most familiar yoshoku dishes. It can be ordered at yoshoku-ya, restaurants that specialize in adapting Western dishes, and is often made at home for a savory, comforting meal. Hayashi Raisu loosely translates into “beef stew over steamed white rice” and is heavily influenced by the French demi-glace. The stew part of the dish is made from beef broth, a browned flour and butter roux, and a port wine-Worstershire sauce-tomato paste-ketchup-soy sauce demi-glace. Added to this amazingly aromatic sauce is thinly sliced bite-sized beef, mushrooms and onions, garnished with boiled green peas. Hayashi Raisu is so common that the Hayashi Raisu sauce mix are even found in konbini, or Japanese convenience stores. And the dish comes together very quickly when you use these sauce mixes.

No packaged sauce mix used here!

The blend of foreign ingredients such as ketchup, butter, wheat flour and Worstershire sauce, along with cooking methods such as a roux based gravy, were new to Japan. Many chefs encouraged the use of these foreign ingredients to supplement what was available to the Japanese people, but in the case of Hayashi Raisu, no one knows who that chef might have been! Legend has it that an unknown chef, whose last name was the commonly used Hayashi, made the dish for the employees at this restaurant. Legend also states that the name for this dish came from the mispronunciation of “hashed beef”. Regardless of how the dish came about, we modern eaters are indebted to the yoshoku chefs of the Meiji Period!

We’d love to hear about your favorite yoshoku dishes. Be sure to share in the comments below!

Product Inspirations – Multicooker (EL-CAC60)

New year, new product!

We’re so excited to introduce our Multicooker (EL-CAC60). This appliance is amazing for making foods from so many cuisines – American, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and many, many more!

Zojirushi Multicooker EL-CAC60

So…do we tempt you with the foods you can make in the Multicooker first or the awesome features of this appliance?

Food it is!

The Multicooker comes with nine menu settings which include Sauté/Sear, Simmer, Low/Slow Cook, Steam, White Rice, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Yogurt and Keep Warm. To sauté or sear, simmer, slow cook or steam, choose one of the settings, the temperature and the time. With the Sauté/Sear setting, we made Gumbo and Pot Roast. Then we used the Sauté/Sear setting to start dishes like Sukiyaki and Texas Chili, which we finished off with the Simmer setting. (Yum.) Using the Low/Slow Cook setting, we made Cioppino and Miso Soup, as well as fresh Tofu. (Hungry yet?) With the Steam menu setting, we made Steamed Dumplings and delicate Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions. And if you want to make white rice, brown rice, quinoa or yogurt, the Multicooker automatically selects the correct cooking time and temperature, adjusting for perfect results each and every time.

Cioppino! Need we say more?

And best of all, these menu settings can be customized, like the Low/Slow Cook setting. It can be adjusted to four different temperatures, ranging from 140°F, 160°F, 180°F to 200°F. The Sauté/Sear setting has two customizable options, one for browning meat (410°F) and one for sautéing aromatics like garlic and onions (350°F). Even our Simmer setting has a High or Low option!

Self-standing lid keeps your countertop tidy and clean!

So, how does the Multicooker do all of this? It comes in a 6-quart capacity, and features a tri-ply 18/8 stainless steel cooking pot that rests inside the main body, secured there using convenient resin handles, which stay cool during cooking. The inner cooking pot is 10” in diameter, ideal for larger cuts of meat and poultry, and holds and distributes heat evenly. The cooking pan rests on a large heating plate with 1,350 watt high-powered output allowing high temperature cooking like sauté and sear. Unlike a standard crock pot or slow cooker, this combination of cooking pot and heating plate lets you braise, sear or sauté foods prior to slow cooking. The cooking pot is topped with a lid made using clear, tempered glass so you can view foods as they cook.

An upward-facing control panel makes it easy to use.

The Multicooker features our smart technology, and uses a microcomputer to provide preprogrammed settings and an upward facing LCD control panel to control time, temperature and menu settings. And it features our commitment to safe design through the user of a concealed heating plate, a removable power cord that detaches when snagged to prevent the hot pot from falling off the kitchen counter, and a spill guard that directs hot overflow to avoid accidental scalding. Accessories include a full-color recipe booklet, a stainless steel steam basket and rice measuring cup.

We can’t wait to hear what you’re cooking up in your new Multicooker (EL-CAC60). All of our recipes are in the recipe booklet, and we’d love to know how they turned out for you. Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages! Simply tag #zojirushi!

Design Explained – Our Innovative Lids

Lids. Yes, we’re starting off 2019 talking about our lids.

Happy 2019, and we hope that you find this new series about how our smartly engineered product components work as interesting as we do! And lest you think we are a bunch of engineers sitting around geeking out about our products (which, we happily are!), we were inspired to write this series because of the many questions that you, our fans and enthusiasts, ask us.

One of the most frequently asked questions comes from those of you who use our bottles, lunch jars and food jars – the items that typically have screw-off lids. Upon first glance, many of our customers aren’t sure why our lids have multiple pieces, after all…isn’t one lid just like any other?

Of course not! We have designed our screw-off lids to cleverly solve a few problems, without requiring you to learn a new technology or to deal with lots of difficult processes. Let’s deconstruct the lid first.

It looks like a lot of pieces, but each one fits seamlessly and serves a purpose.

It looks like a lot of pieces, but each one fits seamlessly and serves a purpose. The Lid Cover and Lid Cover Gasket top the show. The Stopper Cover protects the inner stopper system, which is comprised of the Stopper, Valve Packing and Stopper Gasket, all of which help to prevent leaks. The Valve Packing helps manage pressure inside the main body that can be created when hot foods or drinks are stored in the container. The Lid Cover at the very top is removable to allow access to the Valve Packing when needed, and the extra space within the lid also creates an insulated barrier so that the temperature of the food or drink inside the main body is maintained.

Pressure release valve helps to release built-up pressure

The components of the inner stopper system are meant to seal the main body shut, and the Valve Packing manages the pressure inside of the container. Sometimes, when the containers are filled with hot foods or beverages, pressure can build up inside and seal the lid tightly onto the main body. This is great when you’re making Steel Cut Oatmeal To-Go in Your Food Jar, but not so great when you have to open that food jar! Rather than forcing the lid off, and potentially scalding yourself, we’ve designed the lid so that you simply take off the Lid Cover, insert a toothpick into one of the two small holes in the  Stopper, and release some of the pressure inside of the main body. This works the similar to the way pressure is released from a pressure cooker. Then, just screw the lid off and enjoy!

Removable mouth ring for drinking comfort

The Mouth Ring and Mouth Ring Gasket below the lid components are for drinking comfort, and the lid fits securely into this area. Additionally, the lid covers the area that touches your lips, keeping it clean. We’ve even heard that it’s great when your bottle rolls out of your bag onto the sandy beach, and the lid stays on to keep the drinking area clean of sand!

Most lids disassemble for thorough cleaning

Lids, because they come into contact with foods and beverages, can foster bacterial growth if they aren’t cleaned well and dried thoroughly. We’ve thought of that, too, and designed the lid to easily disassemble. Each component can be removed for thorough and hygienic cleaning.

Check out how convenient these smartly designed lids are – and of course, enjoy your fresh foods and beverages in our vacuum-insulated bottles, food jars and lunch jars. Our friendly Customer Service Representatives are available to answer any questions…especially the really geeky ones our product designers love!