Foreign Foods in Japan –
Gyoza!

Supagetti Naporitan. Hayashi Raisu. Kasutera. Japanese cuisine is full of foreign foods with a Japanese twist…and they’re ones that we all love!

Dumplings are no exception, and in this month’s series, we are excited (and hungry!) to talk about Japanese gyoza. Gyoza are a relatively “new” food in Japan, entering the cuisine during World War II, when Japanese soldiers stationed in Northern China fell in love with “jiaozi”, the Mandarin word for dumplings that “stick to the pot”.

Chinese jiaozi, more commonly known as potstickers in the US, are made with a wheat flour dough, rolled out and stuffed with meat and/or vegetables. The dough is on the thicker side, and the finished dumplings are typically of the size that they can be eaten in three to four bites. Jiaozi are made using the fry-steam-fry method, where they are first pan fried in oil in a wok, then steamed in the same wok with the addition of a little water, and then finished by cooking in the wok without the lid on so that the water evaporates and crisps up the dumpling.

When jiaozi were imported into Japan, they were modified to be more subtle and delicate, as much of Japanese cuisine is. The wheat flour dough, or wrapper, is much thinner for Japanese gyoza. And they are smaller, along with being crimped and folded differently from jiaozi. The fillings are chopping up to be much finer than the Chinese version and a dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar and ra-yu, or Japanese hot pepper oil, is a common accompaniment. Japanese gyoza are often filled with pork, chicken, cabbage, nira or chives, scallions, garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms and other vegetables. And the best part is that when making a big batch of gyoza, leftovers can be frozen!

Cooking gyoza is similar to cooking jiaozi. The gyoza are placed in a skillet or pan with a little bit of oil, until the bottom has pan-fried. A small amount of water, just enough to steam, is added to the pan, which is covered until the wrappers are translucent and the inner filling has cooked through. Then the lid is removed and the gyoza bottoms are allowed to crisp up in the pan. Served hot with dipping sauce, they make an amazing savory dish. Our skillets and griddles are great for making gyoza, as the convenient lids help to steam the dumplings.

In Japan, gyoza are ubiquitously available. They are great as snacks and appetizers, are eaten as main meals and are found at izakaya or bars, ramen shops, grocery stores and festivals.

Have you tried Japanese gyoza? Tell us about your favorite filling in the comments below!

Product Inspirations –
Glass Vacuum Carafe
(AH-EAE10)

Did you know that we make carafes? Whether they’re used for home, office, hospitality or other commercial use, our vacuum insulated carafes have always been a big part of our product lineup.

This year, we’re excited to introduce our newest – and dare we say, most stylish – Glass Vacuum Carafe (AH-EAE10). This designer carafe has an iconic style and adds beauty and substance to any table.

The unique vertical, decagonal shape of our carafe was conceptualized by David Tonge of The Division in London, who was inspired by classic Japanese design. According to David, he “wanted to create a unique and sophisticated flask which would have a strong impact on the table.” He studied many different types of carafe designs and realized that most were rounded and had horizontal sections, just as a separate base or top. David explored using a vertical construction for the carafe, and paired with Japanese aesthetic and design principles, resulted in the new AH-EAE10 model.

The carafe is made in Japan, and holds 34 ounces of liquid. It comes in four gorgeous colors: Silver, Black, Red and Gold.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Zojirushi product if it wasn’t functional as well as beautiful. The inside of the carafe utilizes a specialized vacuum liner made of premium, medical-grade-equivalent borosilicate glass, which is durable and stain- and odor-resistant. The glass has been tested by a third-party laboratory and rated EP/USP Type I, same as medical grade glass, ensuring that it’s strong and of the highest quality.

The glass liner also provides superior heat retention, using our vacuum insulation technology. As with our other vacuum insulated products, the air has been removed from between the inner and outer layers, preventing heat transfer and keeping beverages hot or cold for hours.

The carafe accommodates most brewing attachments, for that perfect cup of coffee, and the sturdy handle and easy-to-use large push-button stopper allow liquids to pour out smoothly. Pour over coffees are easy to make with this carafe, and beverages like brewed hot tea, hot water or cold ice water stay fresh and at the optimal temperature.

The smart features designed into our newest vacuum insulated carafe make it versatile to use. At home, use it to keep freshly brewed coffee hot all morning or fill it with ice water to serve at mealtimes. At the office, use it during meetings or in the breakroom. And for any hospitality-related event, be it a conference or wedding or show, use it to serve hot beverages easily.

Check out the new Glass Vacuum Carafe on the product page and let us know your favorite color and how you’ll use it!

Design Explained –
Micom Intelligence

“Inspirations from everyday life” is at the core of our business. And for the large majority of Japanese, cooking rice is at the center of their daily activities, a task that involves sourcing, washing, soaking, cooking, steaming, fluffing and serving short-grained, perfectly cooked Japanese rice.

We’ve created an amazing line up of rice cookers to help with this everyday task, and this month in our Design Explained series, we talk about the benefits of our Micom rice cookers.

First of all, what is a rice cooker? A rice cooker is an electric machine that automates parts of the process for cooking rice. Traditionally, rice has been cooked in a pot, with water, over a flame. With a rice cooker, the steps that convert the hard rice kernel into a fluffy, edible staple is automated. Conventional rice cookers, which are the most basic type of rice cookers, simply boil rice, managing turning off when there is no water left in the pot. Our Micom rice cookers, however, automate soaking, cooking and steaming. Our Micom rice cooker that include induction heating and a combination of induction heating and pressure apply additional technologies to prepare perfect rice.

But what really is Micom and how does it work?

Micom is an abbreviation of “microcomputer”, meaning that a microcomputer is built into the rice cooker to control the rice cooking process.

The microcomputer, in this instance, works to automate as much of the cooking process as possible, so that only washing before and fluffing after are manual tasks. With a conventional rice cooker, the cook would have to manage washing the rice, the soaking time, monitor how it steams after boiling, and fluff prior to serving as well. In fact, there is a Japanese saying that explains the benefit of the microcomputer’s work:

Hajime choro-choro Naka pa-ppa Akago naite mo Futa toruna!” meaning “At first it bubbles, and then it hisses. Even if the baby cries, don’t open the lid!” It’s so much easier to let the Micom rice cooker do the work, and better yet, do it on a timer, so that it’s done in one efficient shot.

Our Micom rice cookers also create ideal cooking environments for various types of rice and rice dishes. For example, many of our rice cookers have a setting for sushi rice, which the microcomputer knows to cook for a specific time and at a specific temperature so that it cooks to the required firmness. Some of our rice cookers also have a setting for GABA Brown Rice, which adjusts the soaking time and temperature to increase GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in brown rice. And they have a setting for porridge, which ensures that the extra water needed to make the soupy rice doesn’t boil over.

Which Zojirushi rice cooker do you have? And have you made the two main staples of Japanese cuisine – White Rice and Brown Rice – following our recipes? Let us know in the comments below!

I Love My New Water Boiler

We recently bought a new Zojirushi Water Boiler, after we were forced to retire our old one after so many years of faithful service. The inner pot started developing rust spots and the water started to smell funny, but I feel it lasted a long time, considering we kept it turned on 24/7—unplugging it only when we went out of town. We decided on the CD-LFC30, a cute, chunky looking model in sleek white. In our kitchen it breaks up the monotony of all the stainless steel appliances we have.

Ahhh! To have great tasting tea again! We’re heavy green tea drinkers at home, so my whole family uses hot water constantly. A water boiler that keeps hot water available any time makes total sense for us. But we use it for so many other things too, which is probably why ours is on all the time.

I have mine set at 195°F, which I think is OK for most uses. If I was doing a pour-over cup of coffee, I’d want it hotter so I’d be using boiled water from a kettle anyway. And if I got some really expensive tea, I might want to set it lower so I don’t scorch the tea leaves. If you want some real good information on how water temperature affects your tea, read more here.

Besides tea, we use our water boiler for instant hot cocoa.

Also for instant oatmeal for a quick morning breakfast.

Instant miso soup! Have you tried these? They come with miso paste packets and dehydrated green onion, tofu and wakame seaweed. Just add hot water, and voila! Amazingly good miso soup!

And of course, the most popular emergency snack in the world, cup of noodles.

Speaking of cup of noodles, here’s our old water boiler performing like a champ during my daughter’s 13th birthday when we had a sleepover with a bunch of her friends. Mind you, this was self-service for the kids, which was perfectly safe when hot water is being dispensed out of a water boiler and not a hot kettle.

If all these uses weren’t enough to justify getting a water boiler, did you know plain hot water actually has health benefits too? Many people drink a cup of hot water first thing in the morning or right before bedtime as a holistic health remedy.
•It can help the body relax—makes sense; many people drink hot tea to calm nerves. Hot water can serve the same purpose without the caffeine or the sugar.
•It relieves nasal congestion—tell me if you haven’t experienced this benefit. Next time you have a stuffy nose from a cold, try sipping hot water while inhaling the steam from the cup.
•Helps digestion—hot water soothes and activates your digestive tract. Water hydrates and lubricates your organs, after all. Plus, hot water can help dissolve and break down troublesome foods.
•Keeps you hydrated—in the end, it’s water and your body needs it; and this might be an easier way to get your daily requirement that nutritionists recommend.

My Review of the CD-LFC30
So far, so great. The water is tasting good again. I tested the Quick Temp feature by filling the tank with cold water and heating to exactly 195°F. It was ready to go in 19 minutes—not bad for almost a gallon of water. My old boiler used to boil to 212°F and I had to wait until it cooled down.

I also wanted to test the lid as I opened it for refilling. My old one would drip condensation where the lid hinged with the tank, whenever I opened it. You can see how the accumulated condensation now drips neatly back into the tank. No mess!

I used the Slow Dispense Mode on all these shots, which is perfect for pouring into cups and bowls without splashing.

The big wide window of the refill indicator is so much easier to see than my old boiler.

I love the stubby low profile of this boiler. It looks so compact, but it has plenty enough capacity for our family—no less than my old boiler, so I know it’s enough.

If you’ve never owned a water boiler, and especially if you drink a lot of tea, I would recommend getting one just for the convenience of having hot water anytime. It beats putting the kettle on the stove, or filling an electric one and turning it on every time, or microwaving and waiting for it to heat.

For more ideas on how to use an electric water boiler, check out these recipes on the Zojirushi site.

 

 

credits: all photos by Bert Tanimoto, product images by Zojiushi