Design Explained – Mesh Safety Nets in Our Water Boilers

When designing our products, we choose our materials very carefully. We also consider how these materials are put together, with an eye towards functionality, practicality, ease of use, and maintenance. We’ve designed a mesh Safety Net into our water boilers, and this small component protects the dispensing mechanism in a smart way.

The Safety Net is a small, basket-shaped piece of metal mesh, fixed to the bottom of the inner containers of our water boilers upside-down. It prevents pieces of limescale or other debris from entering the dispensing mechanism, which pumps water so it can be dispensed. Limescale, which is generally comprised of calcium and other minerals naturally found in water, can build up inside the water boiler through normal use. Over time, limescale flakes off into small pieces that can get into the dispensing mechanism of the water boiler, preventing the machine from working properly. The machine makes a “grinding” sound when water is dispensed and eventually breaks. The mesh Safety Net acts as a filter that blocks rogue flakes of limescale from entering the water boilers’ dispensing mechanisms, and as a result, protects it.

Aside from making sure the filter is always in place when in use, we recommend treating your water boiler with our Citric Acid Cleaner once every three months. Doing so will remove limescale even before they flake off. Simply dissolve one packet of the Citric Acid Cleaner in a cup of warm water. Pour the mixture into your empty water boiler and fill the inner container with water. Close the lid and turn the machine onto the cleaning cycle, as per the instruction manual. Once the cycle finishes – usually about an hour later – unplug the machine and empty out the water. The final step is to rinse and dispense resulting in your water boiler becoming just like new! Check out our instructional video and if you ever lose your Safety Net, remember that a replacement can always be purchased from our Parts & Accessories store!

Stay tuned for next month’s Design Explained, where we talk about more smart and innovative features built into our products!

Kitchen Tool Quiz

What is this? I’ll give you a hint: they’re used in pairs, usually; and they’re used to cook these, affectionately known as “Japanese pancakes.” A friend of mine used to give me a tutorial on how to handle these, and he was able to flip his massive creations in one quick, skillful motion. After mixing the batter and all the ingredients, we would pour it on the teppan, or steel griddle, then wait patiently for it to cook. Armed with one of these tools in each hand, he would slide it under the pancake on each side and deftly flip the whole thing on the first try, to cook the other side. Did you guess we were cooking Okonomiyaki? If you want to try cooking your own, you can see the Zojirushi recipe. Then go to your Asian supermarket to find the right tools for the fun of flipping them over! (This is called a “kote” in the Kansai (western) area of Japan, where okonomiyaki was born)

How about this? A piece of string? Sticks? Why are they tied together? You’ve seen these before and probably used them at home or in a restaurant, but yours were probably much shorter. In Japan, these are used for cooking when you don’t want to get too close to the hot stove or hot oil, like when deep frying. It takes a bit of skill to handle these, so if you’re not that confident, I would recommend tongs instead—no embarrassment in that. So why are they tied together? Just to keep from losing one, I think. But it’s also handy for hanging them from a hook. If you want to learn more about chopsticks, you can read more about how they’re made.

This one is easy—just paper, right? But how is it used in cooking? Since the Japanese do a lot of deep fry cooking, this paper is used to blot the excess oil that comes off of just-fried tempura or ebi fry (fried prawn). Americans deep fry a lot too, but we seem less concerned with making our fried chicken look good on the table—we’d probably just lay it on paper towels. It serves the same purpose, but these papers make tempura look so much better. Learn how Zojirushi does it.

This device can be found in American kitchens as well, but this happens to be a very small personal one that can be placed right along side your sushi, grilled fish or maybe tofu. Think about it—what condiment is normally served with sushi? The answer is wasabi—and if you’re a fan, you haven’t had great wasabi until you’ve had the fresh version that doesn’t come in a tube. How about grilled fish? Many people love fish (myself included), but the oiliness can sometimes get to be too much, so you’ll often see it served with a small mound of white daikon radish, which not only enhances the flavor of the fish but also aids in digestion. And tofu? Small blocks of tofu served chilled (hiyayakko) or hot (yudofu) are sometimes dressed with a bit of ginger paste to give it additional spice. What do all these condiments have in common? If you figured out that they all need to be grated, you win the prize. If you want to make yudofu at home, here’s a simple recipe from Zojirushi.

Obviously this is what you probably think it is. But why is it so flat and shallow? In Japanese cooking, many recipes call for hot pots or nabe dishes. As the ingredients cook, scum or foam rises to the surface of the water from the protein produced by the soup stock. Skimming this off keeps the stock nice and clear, and not cloudy. This handy gadget is more indispensable than you think, when you’re making a traditional Mizutaki hot pot.

What th-? It’s so groovy, man. Did you know that Japan is a huge consumer of the sesame seed, importing almost 160,000 tons every year from Latin America? There are 3 different kinds of sesame used in various ways in Japanese cuisine. White Sesame is the most common and the most popular because it has the lightest taste and can be used in salad dressings or to garnish salads. Black Sesame is more distinctive, with a nutty taste, so it’s often used for marinades or crushed to a paste to enhance salads and desserts. Golden Sesame is found in what we might call “rice sprinkles”, or furikake, a very popular seasoning for white rice and onigiri (rice balls). You can buy crushed sesame seeds in packages, but it’s always more fragrant and tastes better if you use this simple tool and do it yourself.

For more crazy and exotic kitchen gadgets found only in Japanese cooking, check this out.

 

 

 

photo credits: Bert Tanimoto

Foreign Foods in Japan – Supagetti Naporitan

Japanese people love good food. Traditional, seasonal, festive and of course, foreign foods!

One of the most universally loved foods is noodles, and in Japan, Italian spaghetti has been adapted to Japanese taste in a dish called Supagetti, or Spaghetti, Naporitan. Legend has it that the dish was invented in August of 1945, by Shigetada Irie, the head chef at the Hotel New Grand in Yokohama. On the 30th of that month, General Douglas MacArthur, leader of the Allied Forces during World War II, established his headquarters at the hotel, and in an effort to accommodate the new guests, Chef Irie developed a pasta dish inspired by the classical Italian pasta napolitana and the American spaghetti with ketchup that was served to military men.

Needless to say, the new dish was a hit, and has become a staple dish wherever yoshuku, or “Japanized Western food”, is served. Today Supagetti Naporitan is made with cooked durum wheat-based spaghetti, onions, bell peppers, sausage, ketchup, salt and grated parmesan cheese. The vegetables and sausage are stir-fried in oil, to which the spaghetti and ketchup are added, with all of the ingredients getting finished in a quick pan sauté. The dish is garnished with parsley and grated parmesan cheese and served hot.

The original recipe developed by Chef Irie, who was classically trained in French and Italian cuisines, used canned pureed tomatoes instead of ketchup, as well as garlic, mushrooms and bacon. Supagetti Naporitan is at heart an international dish. The pastas favored in the Naples region of Italy, where San Marzano tomatoes famous for their sweet acidity grow, is often considered the birthplace of simple spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese. Popularized in the United States following multiple waves of Italian immigration which took place the 18th century, pasta napolitana became a staple in American households. World War II causes widespread scarcity, and instead of fresh, high-quality tomatoes, many families substituted ketchup for the more traditional tomato sauce. Add to this mix Japanese influences – sausages, pan-frying and vegetables – and you have a multi-cuisine but oh-so-comforting dish. Full of umami from the tomatoes and cheese, protein and vegetables, and chewy noodles familiar to the Japanese palette, this dish was destined to become a staple in Japanese cuisine, just like in Italian and American cuisines.

Today, Supagetti Naporitan is available in local mom-and-pop coffee shops throughout Japan, as well as at yoshoku restaurants and chain restaurants. Since it is such a simple dish, it is most often eaten for weekday lunch or dinner and can quickly be made at home.

Have you tried Supagetti Naporitan? Be sure to share your story with us in the comments below!

Product Inspirations – Stainless Mug (SM-TA36/48/60)

It’s all about customization with our new Stainless Mug (SM-TA36/48/60), the latest in our lineup of vacuum insulated stainless steel mugs and bottles.

We created this mug to be stylish and lightweight, weighing in at 7 ounces for the 12 oz. capacity, 8 ounces for the 16 oz. capacity and 9 ounces for the 20 oz. capacity. The mugs come in Black, White, Pink, Honey Gold, and Stainless, with gorgeous finishing and luster.

The mug comes in an ergonomic, slender shape with an easy-to-clean, double layer nonstick coated interior that enhances the mug’s durability and provides greater protection of the stainless steel against salt-containing beverages like sports drinks. It also features a 1 5/8 inch wide opening that makes it easy to fill and clean, and the rounded lip, made using a special manufacturing process, makes it comfortable to drink directly from the mug.

But the fun is in the lids!

Out of the box, the mug comes with a flip-open lid, and can be supplemented with a low-profile, screw-off lid (SM-S10N), sold separately, depending on your sipping preferences. The screw-off lid covers the rounded lip…simply remove it when you feel like drinking directly from the mug. When you don’t want the screw-off lid, use the flip-open one. You can even mix and match to create your favorite color combination!

The flip-open lid which comes standard with the mug uses a two-step release process. This process helps prevent excess condensation on the stopper from being flung off when the lid opens, and an air vent in the spout allows beverages to flow out smoothly, without gushing or overflowing. It’s great for using when you’re in a car or want to control the flow of liquid from the mug.

The flip-open lid also features an oblong-shaped safety lock, which prevents the lid from accidentally opening. It’s easy to know when the lock is engaged…just listen for the click. The lock makes it safe to carry in a purse, backpack or bag…no worries about the lid opening on its own and spilling your drink!

Both flip-open and screw-off lids are BPA free, cover the sipping area to maintain cleanliness, and can be easily disassembled for convenience and thorough cleaning.

As with other Zojirushi bottles and mugs, this mug is constructed with durable and high-quality 18/8 stainless steel, and uses Zojirushi’s superior vacuum insulation technology. By removing the air between the outer and inner layers of the stainless steel, heat is blocked from transferring through it, greatly minimizing the temperature change of your beverage. Your drink stays hot or cold for hours.

The Stainless Mug (SM-TA36/48/60) is so versatile that you can carry everything from water to Iced Black Tea to a lovely and warm Spiced Rooibos Tea. No matter what you drink from this bottle, it’s sure to be a great addition to your own lineup at home!

The Stainless Mug (SM-TA36/48/60) is so versatile that you can carry everything from water to Iced Black Tea to a lovely and warm Spiced Rooibos Tea. No matter what you drink from this bottle, it’s sure to be a great addition to your own lineup at home!

Find out more about this mug on our website and definitely check out our beautiful product video!

Design Explained – Our SlickSteel® Interiors and Nonstick Coatings

Which is better? Nonstick coated or not coated?

At Zojirushi, we know they’re both great!

This month we’re excited to share the design and engineering behind our nonstick and SlickSteel® bottle, mug, and food jar interiors. Both interiors are easy to clean. Both interiors have been proven durable. And both interiors are hygienic and repel stains. So why have two types of interior finishes?

Well, as usual, we believe in customer-centric design, and offer our products in both nonstick and SlickSteel® finishes to satisfy your requests.

As cleanability is important to our customers, many Zojirushi products are nonstick coated. Our nonstick coating is made using PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, a polymer that is applied in a two-step process with a primer and a topcoat. It is nonreactive, inert, ultra-smooth, hydrophobic, and resistant to abrasions, corrosion, and heat. It’s ideal for use in containers that hold food or beverages, since it doesn’t stain or absorb odors. In Japan, our nonstick interior mugs are highly prized for their durability and cleanability, since they are primarily used for holding coffee and tea, which tend to leave odors and stains. Some of our newer bottles, such as the Stainless Mug SM-TA and Stainless Bottle SJ-JS, even utilize double-layer nonstick coating, to provide additional protection against salt-containing beverages such as sports drinks, as materials like salt will corrode stainless steel.

The SlickSteel® interior finish was introduced for our customers who prefer to avoid PTFE nonstick. We’ve electro-polished the interior, resulting in a surface that resists corrosion and repels stains without the use of nonstick coating. Electropolishing works using the principal of electrolysis, whereby the stainless steel is immersed in an ionized, electrolytic solution which is subjected to an electrical current. The reaction that results from the charged solution removes the microscopic peaks and fills the microscopic valleys in the stainless steel, creating an ultra-smooth surface made without any mechanical smoothing, grinding, or buffing.

Because eating out of Food Jars would require a utensil to be used, we use our SlickSteel® interior in all of them so that the nonstick coating is not scratched. Some of the other products with SlickSteel® interior are the Stainless Bottle SV-GWE50, our Stainless Mugs in models SM-JHE, SM-KHE, SM-SHE and our Travel Mug SM-YAE48. Both of our Stainless Tumblers in models SM-DA and SM-DD are SlickSteel® finished.

No matter what your preference is, both of our interior finishes showcase the same smart design and expert engineering you’ve come to expect from Zojirushi. Feel free to call our friendly customer service with any additional questions and of course, to help you select your next mug, bottle, or food jar!