Design Explained –
Our Steam Vent Caps

Do you know that most of our rice cookers have a cap on the steam vent? Compared to conventional rice cookers, our advanced rice cookers – the ones that utilize a microcomputer – are sleeker, with tight-fitting components and lids. We make these rice cookers with steam venting systems that consists of three components – a vent, a vent cap, and a vent cap receptacle.

This is the Steam Vent Cap!

Each piece of the venting system has a purpose. The vent is a tube-like opening that goes through the cover and inner lid, into the body of the rice cooker where the inner pan rests. The vent is covered by the steam vent cap, which rests in the steam vent cap receptacle, keeping it securely on the cover of the rice cooker. The entire system is built to seamlessly blend into the top of the rice cookers. One customer even brought his appliance into our office inquiring about the system because he didn’t realize it was there!

Can you spot the Steam Vent Cap?

The steam venting system works in conjunction with good rice prep. The first step is to correctly measure the right amount of rice and water. Then, it’s important to wash the rice correctly, removing excess starch and bran or dust from the rice kernels. Once the rice begins cooking, the rice cooker releases excess steam through the vent, and the steam vent cap catches any foamy substances that come out with the steam. The rice cooks better this way because the steam vent cap allows the rice cooker to cook your rice at a higher heat, without worrying about overflow because the steam vent cap can capture excess moisture and bubbles that may foam up.

Yay for delicious rice!

As long as the vent cap is washed under running water and the steam vent cap receptacle area is wiped with a soft cloth to remove any moisture, the steam venting system in your Zojirushi advanced rice cooker should work wonderfully. Remember to remove and clean the inner lid and you’ll have perfectly cooked rice every time!

Don’t forget to remove and clean the Inner Lid!

Check out our full line up in the Products section, and be sure to comment with any questions you might have.


Japanese Soufflé Pancakes

Have you seen these fluffy Japanese Pancakes all over social media lately? I stepped out of my comfort zone last weekend, just to try my primitive cooking skills at making these babies. Not bad, eh? I’d say it was a success! (But I have to admit after a lot of trial and error and a lot of eggs) Mind you, I’m not totally helpless—I’ve done pancakes before. I mean, breakfast is relatively easy. But these were a real challenge and nothing like regular pancakes. So good! Light, airy, jiggly and fluffy!

Equipment:
Zojirushi Gourmet Sizzler Electric Griddle
Turns out this was great for making pancakes because I had so much room to work with. The temp settings are too high for Japanese Pancakes but I was able to adjust by tweaking it a little. More on that later. The included lid is necessary, so I wished it was clear so I could have seen the pancakes as it cooked, but there’s ways to get around that too, if you need to.

Recipe:
My basic recipe was from Tasty Japan, but I also got a lot of tips from Just One Cookbook on the basics of baking.
Ingredients for 4 servings
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup pancake mix
1/2 cup milk

Japanese Pancakes require 2 things for success. Egg whites beaten to the right stiffness to make meringue and low temp steaming to bake. Making the batter was easy, the egg whites need to be finessed.

First get the egg yolks, sugar, pancake mix and milk into a bowl so you can whisk them together. Make sure not to leave it lumpy!

The egg whites need to be beaten with an electric blender. Some recipes called for them to be beaten with powdered sugar, instead of using granulated sugar in the batter. Preference thing, I guess. Anyway, the trick is to whip the egg whites until they get stiff enough to form peaks. I would do it at the highest speed.

Here’s one I did with powdered sugar. See the peaks?

By the way, did you know there are such things as egg white separators? This was a great gadget! No mess and it really gets all the whites separate from the yolk! Lot better than transferring the yolk from one shell to the other like old school!

This really works!

Next you fold the meringue into the batter. Don’t mix it in so thoroughly that it flattens the egg whites. All you’re doing here is combining the two parts.

And now you’re ready to put it on the griddle! Here’s a word about the griddle. This is a soufflé pancake, so you’re supposed to cook it on low heat for a long time, and covered with a lid. This recipe called for 10 minutes, while the steam did most of the cooking. My Zojirushi Griddle’s temp setting only goes as low as 300°F, which is way too hot for slow cooking these pancakes, so I actually had it on a setting barely above Keep Warm.

Here’s my setting.
The pour!

I used a bowl to steam it on low heat. Clever, right? With this griddle there was plenty of space so it was easy to do this. I did a couple with a pancake mold, which some of these recipes call for, but you don’t really need them to get them to come out fluffy and tall. If you do use molds, make sure they’re made of silicone like this one. You don’t want to scratch the griddle surface with metal. To get your pancakes taller, spoon the batter onto the surface, wait a little as it starts to cook, and layer more batter directly on top of it. It’s cooking so slow anyway, you’ve got plenty of time to do this.

“Update: Zojirushi does not recommend using this griddle at this temperature setting or using glass bowls on the surface. This post does not reflect usage guidelines provided by the manufacturer.”

Looking good…

When you’re ready to turn them over, put a spatula under it and roll them over gently. You can’t flip these guys. Dress with strawberries or powdered sugar or whatever you like. I really didn’t even need any syrup—they were already just the right sweetness all the way through.

Yummy!

For more pancake recipes from Zojirushi, try these. They’re not the soufflé kind, but they look delicious!

Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes

Gluten Free Pancakes

All photos by Bert Tanimoto

Foreign Foods in Japan – Tenshindon

Tenshindon is a yummy crab omelet served over rice and topped with a salty-sweet sauce and chopped scallions. Sounds like a simple dish, doesn’t it?

But tenshindon has some fun historical and pop-culture stories associated with it and we’re excited to share not only the recipe for tenshindon, but also the interesting facts about this Japanized Chinese dish!

During the 1800s and 1900s, Japan opened its borders to commercial, intellectual, and cultural exchange with Asian countries and Western nations. China was a major center for this type of exchange, and the city of Tianjin became a treaty port for interested parties. Many Japanese traveled to Tianjin, establishing a significant population there. With this exchange, Japanese travelers who returned from the city brought back new knowledge, culture, goods, and foods, which became part of day-to-day Japanese life. One such dish was tenshindon – which combines the Japanized word for Tianjin, “tenshin,” with the Japanese word for rice, “don.” Fumiyoshi Yokota, a professor of Chinese cuisine, researched tenshindon in the book titled The Research of Chinese Food Culture: Tianjjin, and found that there were strong ties to the food found in Tianjin. First, the use of salty soy sauce was common in Tianjin; Tenshindon also features a salty, soy-based gravy. Second, when Chinese people had to eat frugally, they would fish for crabs and prawns off the coast of the port city. Tenshindon features a crab omelet. Lastly, rice was popular in both cities.

Along with the historical connections, legend has it that after the numerous wars of that period, starving customers would come into a Chinese-owned restaurant called Taishoken in Osaka and order the quickest, cheapest item they could get – a Tianjin-inspired crab meat omelet served over rice and topped with a salty sauce.

Competing stories credit Tokyo as the birthplace of tenshindon, at the restaurant Rai Rai Ken, where shoyu-based ramen was popularized, when a customer who was in a hurry to eat was served the dish topped with the sauce used for sweet and sour pork. The owner of Rai Rai Ken called the dish tenshindon, in honor of the Japanese soldiers stationed in Tianjin.

More recently, tenshindon has become more popular at Chinese restaurants in Japan because of the reference to Tenshinhan, a character in the hugely popular Dragon Ball anime series. “Han,” which means rice in Chinese, is a play on don, a food-related pun that Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama often adds to his characters’ names.

Regardless of how tenshindon came to be, it is an ultimately fantastic comfort food and easy to make over white rice. Have you tried it before? If so, share your love of this dish with us below!

Product Inspirations – Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NL-AAC10/18)

At Zojirushi, we’re inspired by everyday cooking, at home, in any kind of kitchen, and for large and small families. We design our small appliances to meet your day-to-day needs, and our Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NL-AAC10/18) is one of the best examples of the effortless practicality and stylish functionality that guides our product design.

This is made in Japan and comes in 5.5 and 10 cup capacities. It’s also smartly multifunctional. At its core, it cooks rice and rice mixed with grains, such as barley and adzuki beans. But this rice cooker also features a Steam function, which allows you to cook vegetables, fish, scallops, prawns, chicken, meat-filled potstickers, or dumplings.

Rice is cooked using one of six pre-programmed settings: White/Sushi Rice, Mixed Rice, Porridge, Sweet Rice, Brown Rice, and Quick Cooking. Each of these settings, along with the one for Steaming, are accessed on the easy-to-read LCD control panel. Once the desired setting is selected, the rice cooker uses fuzzy logic technology – which cleverly directs the appliance’s microcomputer to make fine adjustments to cooking time and temperature – to make perfect rice every time.

White Rice and Brown Rice are easy to make; simply select the White/Sushi or Brown Rice setting. But this rice cooker also allows you to make mixed rice, such as rice with barley or Shiitake-Gohan (Shiitake Mushroom Rice), by adding stock, seasonings and vegetables directly into the rice cooker along with the rice. The instruction manual that comes with the rice cooker has smart tips on how to get the best results for all kinds of dishes, including the correct proportion of rice to other grains, how to rinse rice for the best results, and how to season rice for cooking.

The black inner pan is ideal for helping you with assembling and cooking your dish. Markings on the inside of the pan serve as a guide for how much water to use and the heating element evenly heats the ingredients. Once the dishes are cooked, the rice cooker will either make a beeping sound or play a melody, and will keep the food warm using the Automatic Keep Warm setting or the Extended Keep Warm setting. We use this feature along with the Delay Timer, which allows you to program when you would like the rice to be finished cooking. We often fill the inner cooking pan with rinsed rice and water in the morning, set the timer for the evening, and leave for the day to come home to cooked, fresh rice. The rice cooker will automatically keep it warm, and when we come home, we simply open the lid to eat or add ingredients for dishes like Green Tea Rice.

The Steaming function is another ideal feature in this rice cooker. To steam your favorite foods, fill the inner cooking pan with the appropriate amount of water, insert the steaming basket securely into the inner cooking pan, then place your foods into the basket. Select the Steam setting from the LCD panel and set the cooking time. Before you know it, your food will be prepared and ready to eat!

A rice measuring cup, rice spatula, and the steaming basket accessories come with the rice cooker.

Maintaining this rice cooker is also simple and practical. The inner lid, which covers the cooking pan, is detachable and washable, as are the removable inner cooking pan, steamer basket, and spatula. Simply wipe the inner and outer surfaces of the machine to clean them. And when storing the rice cooker, remove the detachable power cord and fold it up neatly next to the machine.

We hope you try out the great recipes found on pages 18-21 of the instruction manual, and try out some of our favorites from Zojirushi.com. As always, be sure to share your favorite dishes with us!

Design Explained – Our Superior Vacuum Insulation

Zojirushi has been in the vacuum insulation business for over 100 years! The company opened its doors in Osaka as the Ichikawa Brothers Trading Company in 1918 manufacturing vacuum liners, and began manufacturing vacuum bottles in 1948. We’ve been designing vacuum insulated products since then!

Vacuum insulation is a specific type of insulation that uses a man-made vacuum between two panels of materials, such as glass or stainless steel, so that the temperature of the fluids or gases on either side of the panels are isolated and don’t affect each other. The concept of a vacuum insulated flask was originally developed in the West in 1892 by James Dewar, a scientist who was interested in cryogenics and in developing supercooled substances like liquid hydrogen. Dewar needed a way to keep the liquid hydrogen cool, so that it wouldn’t evaporate, and came up with a vacuum insulated flask made of two walls of glass. Vacuum insulated glass containers were at the heart of Zojirushi’s technology, until 1981, when we created our TUFFBOY line and patented the process to make vacuum insulated stainless steel containers.

Vacuum insulation has many benefits, which we’ve incorporated into our bottles, mugs, food jars, and lunch jars since the first vacuum bottle. The first benefit is the superior insulation. Vacuum insulation prevents heat loss through conduction. Since the air which is a conductor  – is removed between the inner and outer layers of stainless steel, heat isn’t transferred. In fact, a gap as small as 1 mm for the air can insulate the food or drink inside your container!

If you remember from your school days, there are 2 other ways heat can transfer: radiation and convection. In a Zojirushi bottle, heat transfer is also prevented by insulating against radiant heat transfer. A thin sheet of aluminum or copper is wrapped around the outer surface of the inner layer to help reflect radiant heat.

And finally, heat transfer through convection is blocked by tightly sealing the lids on each of the products. For bottles, mugs, and food jars, the lid itself is equipped with a gasket to seal it onto the container, whereas lunch jars use a foam-insulated inner lid. Each of these three ways keeps food and beverages hot or cold for hours.

Along with managing heat transfer, using vacuum insulation makes all of our products lighter. Many thermal vessels use polystyrene foam or the addition of other materials to insulate, adding weight and bulk. Our vacuum insulation makes our products lighter and more compact.

Our superior vacuum insulation makes it easy to choose your favorite bottle, mug, food jar, or lunch jar. Pick between a non-stick coated or SlickSteel® interior. Choose the right size and capacity. And select your favorite color. Check out our full line up in the Products section, and be sure to comment with any questions you might have.