The Voices of Zojirushi – Saori!

We are enjoying a special treat this month as we get to know Saori, Zojirushi’s Recipe Tester & Developer. Her role at Zojirushi is as fun as it sounds! She develops and tests recipes under different conditions to make sure they turn out to be perfectly delicious when made in Zojirushi appliances. Too much water? Not enough electricity? The mix of ingredients not quite working? Saori takes all of the guesswork out of recipes so that when we make then, all we experience is “YUM!”

We caught up with Saori to talk about her creative inspirations and how they’ve influenced her as part of the Zojirushi team.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What types of foods do you love to eat?

I was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. My favorite food from Nagoya is kishimen, which is a broad and flat noodle in a broth loaded with katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and ankake supa, which is thick spaghetti sautéed and topped with a thick, spicy, blended tomato sauce and other toppings like sausage, hard-boiled eggs, and bell peppers.

Kishimen

How did your love of food, especially Japanese food, lead you to Zojirushi?

Well, the ability to use my experience and love of cooking as my job was the first thing that drew me to the company, but the longer I stay, the more I realize that I enjoy the core qualities of this organization, patience and generosity, just like the elephant on our logo.

Our corporate philosophy is Creating a Quality of Life. How does your position or your job function create a better quality of life for our customers?

I help develop and test recipes that use ingredients that can be easily found in local markets, with kitchen tools available in any home, using Zojirushi products. Through these recipes, I hope our customers can find not only the joy of cooking, but also the joy of creativity, while thinking about their own ways to personalize recipes to their preference. Creativity, quality and true to its values… that’s what I feel we offer here. If it weren’t for these qualities, my job as a recipe tester would not be necessary.

When we develop recipes, we need to thoroughly test, and that often means every model!

Much of our product design focuses on safety, usability, practicality, quality, craftsmanship and stylishness. Do you have a favorite Zojirushi product that you believe embodies these qualities?

The Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker BB-PAC20, because while it makes bread-making easy for anybody, it also allows me to be creative and make my own, unique recipes. Some of my favorites are the Cheese ‘n’ Onion Bread and the Fava Bean Risotto. It was something else!

And if you could dream up your own next-generation Zojirushi product, what would it be?

My first choice would be an ice cream and soft serve maker. A unit that would fit in the freezer and mixes the ingredients to make ice cream and soft serve. My second choice is an indoor smoker. I would like to try making smoked salmon, smoked chicken or ham at home!

—-

Saori’s ideas sound delicious to us, and we can’t wait to find out what new recipe she comes up with. Be sure to subscribe to Zojirushi 101, so you get the latest recipes from Saori, and stay tuned as we meet more of the Zojirushi team next month.

 

Product Inspirations – Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-NVC10/18)

We are inspired every month by innovations that you, our fans, share with us. You inspire us to create small appliances that bring ease, convenience, versatility and style to your kitchen. And that ultimately help you cook delicious foods, simply and easily. It’s with these beliefs that we’ve created the Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-NVC10/18)–our flagship rice cooker.

This rice cooker is engineered to cook perfect rice, every time. The advanced fuzzy logic with artificial intelligence technology used in this rice cooker “learns” from prior cooking experiences and makes minute adjustments to each batch of rice, so that it is cooked perfectly, every time. The microcomputer that controls the rice cooker also manages the multiple varied settings, which are accessed from the large, easy-to-read LCD panel. White rice can be cooked regular, harder or softer, and the rice cooker also has menu settings such as umami, mixed rice, sushi or sweet rice, porridge, brown rice, GABA brown rice as well as rinse-free and quick cooking. Exclusive to this model are the steam-reduce and scorch settings. The steam-reduce setting minimizes the amount of steam emitted from the rice cooker, so surrounding cabinets are protected, and the scorch setting scorches the bottom of the rice for a crunchy texture.

Pressurized cooking is a key feature in this rice cooker, as applying pressure during cooking converts the rigid beta starch in rice into alpha starch, which makes the rice sweeter, softer and easier to digest. Sushi rice, which needs to be harder in texture, is cooked at the same atmospheric pressure as sea level, while white rice and brown rice are cooked at higher pressures, which gives them a soft yet chewy consistency. No matter what type of rice you use, this machine selects from three pressure levels according to the menu selected–automatically!

The induction heating technology used in this pan creates instant and precise heat. The inner pan is heated, not the inside of the machine, so that cooking temperature is concentrated where the rice is. The inner pan is made with a platinum infused nonstick coating, making the water used to cook the rice more alkaline, enhancing the natural sweetness of the rice. Clear, bright markings make it easy to measure in the right amount of rice and water and the entire pan is easy to clean with mild dish detergent and warm water. And the stainless steel inner lid can be detached and easily cleaned in the same manner.

This machine uses the same great convenience features that our other rice cookers do: namely, the ability to select your favorite sound signal–a beep, a melody or silence–as well as Keep Warm, Extended Keep Warm, Reheat and Timer functions.

This rice cooker’s exterior is just as beautiful as the interior, featuring a clear coated stainless steel which coordinates any kitchen décor. It is available in 5.5 cup and 10 cup sizes.

Our top-of-the-line rice cooker is the ideal rice cooker for preparing a variety of dishes this season. Green Tea Rice is always a refreshing rice to serve with dishes like ginger pork and teriyaki yellow tail. Brown Rice and Black Bean Crisps are filling, look beautiful and are naturally gluten-free. And our delectable Deconstructed California Roll features sushi rice paired with crab meat, avocados, cucumbers and nori seaweed.

The rice cooker comes with a rice spatula, spatula holder and measuring cup.

No matter what you make, we know you’ll love our rice cooker as much as we do. Leave us a comment about your best experience and as always, be sure to share your favorite recipes with us!

Product Inspirations – Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NL-BAC05)

Introducing our new Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NL-BAC05)!

We love this compact rice cooker. It’s packed with features and is an ideal size for couples and small families. With this 3-cup rice cooker, you can make as little as ½ a cup of rice or grains, allowing you to have the flexibility of making a small dish or a hearty meal.

This rice cooker uses some of our best features, like a nonstick coated, 2.5mm thick black inner pan which allows for even heat distribution and easy cleaning, as well as a triple heater with an extra-large heating element that heats the inner pan from the bottom, sides and top. The onboard microcomputer employs advanced fuzzy logic technology to ensure perfect results every time by making fine adjustments to cooking time and temperature.

This rice cooker also has new healthy menu settings such as Steel Cut Oatmeal and Quinoa, as well as the other settings like White/Sushi rice, Brown rice, Long Grain White rice, Quick cooking, and even Cake which can all be found on the easy-to-use LCD control panel. The machine chimes with a melody feature when cooking is complete, so you can enjoy your food hot and fresh. Two keep warm settings–Automatic Keep Warm and Extended Keep Warm–keep rice at the perfect serving temperature.

One of the great benefits of using a rice cooker is having your rice or grains prepared when you’re ready to eat it. The Delay Timer function on this rice cooker sets the machine to finish cooking rice by a specific time, so you can program it to cook while you’re at work or out running errands, and have rice ready when you return. And convenience features like a removable Steam Vent Cap allows for high temperature cooking without messy overflows. The retractable power cord and sturdy fold-down handle make this machine simple to store, and all surfaces that come into contact with food are BPA-free. Plus it comes with a spatula and measuring cup.

We hope you try out our delicious recipes like this Quinoa and Chicken Super Salad or or fresh and fruity Tropical Long Grain Salad!

Find out more about the Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer on our website and as always, we’d love to hear about your favorite recipes!

Product Inspirations – Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NS-LGC05)

We love one of our newest rice cookers, the Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NS-LGC05)!

This rice cooker is ideal for small families or couples, as it can cook as little as a half cup of rice or oats and up to three cups of rice. Whether you’re making an individual portion or enough for a small family, this compact rice cooker is versatile as well as stylish, with a clear coated stainless steel exterior that looks sleek and modern on any kitchen countertop.

The Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer comes equipped with a microcomputer that uses advanced fuzzy logic technology to make fine adjustments to cooking time and temperature, ensuring rice is cooked to perfection every time. It also comes with menu settings to make white rice, sushi rice, brown rice, long grain white rice and special menu settings for steel cut oatmeal and GABA brown rice. GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is said to help lower blood pressure and relieve stress. Using the GABA Brown Rice setting activates the GABA in the brown rice by soaking it for two hours at 104°F before cooking.

Hot and delicious steel cut oatmeal

Cooking in this rice cooker is stress-free. The nonstick inner pan comes with high-contrast water level lines that make it easy to see how much water to put into the pan for the desired amount of rice. The pan is easy to insert into the machine and rice is cooked evenly using the triple heaters on the bottom, sides and lid. The easy-to-read LCD control panel is used to select the menu setting, and once set, the rice cooker will automatically presoak, cook and steam the rice to perfection. With the clock and delay timer functions, you can set rice to cook for dinner before you leave in the morning or set oatmeal to be ready for breakfast before you go to bed! Once rice is cooked, the machine automatically switches to Keep Warm mode, and rice can be reheated to serving temperature using the Reheat function just before eating.

This model features a convenient detachable inner lid for easy cleaning and a fully-washable inner cooking pan. The retractable power cord and sturdy fold-down handle make this machine simple to store and easy to transport. It also has a removable steam vent cap which allows for high-temperature cooking without messy overflows. Accessories include a nonstick rice spatula, spatula holder and a measuring cup.

Buttered Lobster Rice

With superior technology, design and performance, this Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer is great for your cooking needs. And to get you started, we wanted to share some of our favorite recipes that work beautifully in this rice cooker. Making the basics well is at the core of using this rice cooker, so why not first try making white rice, brown rice and steel cut oatmeal. When making white rice, make sure to rinse and wash the grains well prior to cooking and to use the right amount of water for the desired amount of rice. (We’ve even created a video that shows you how to properly wash rice!) Stir and loosen rice immediately after cooking, so that excess moisture is released and rice has a fluffy texture.

Once you’ve mastered these recipes, try making Takikomi Gohan, or Mixed Rice. This delicious recipe combines chicken, fried tofu, vegetables, mushrooms and seasonings with rice, all directly in the rice cooker. And if you’re in the mood for something richer, try Buttered Lobster Rice, where delicately seasoned rice is topped with rich, buttery lobster and a spritz of lemon.

No matter what you make with this rice cooker, it’s sure to turn out beautifully. Check out our product video below for more details, and as always, let us know how you do in the comments below.

 

Passport to Yum – Zojirushi’s Favorite Rice Desserts & Snacks

okaki

We’ve loved all of the rice dishes we’ve tried this year, whether from Asia, South America, the United States or Europe! But we can’t end the year without discussing the myriad desserts and snacks that are made from rice.

Just like those dishes that use rice in its grain or noodle form, many cultures have used this ancient grain in sweet desserts and savory snacks.

The ever-popular rice cracker is a sophisticated snack when made Japanese-style. There are two types of rice crackers most commonly made: senbei and okaki (seen in top photo). Senbei crackers, which originated in China, are made with Japanese short grain rice called uruchi mai and okaki are made with sweet, glutinous rice.  These rice crackers come in various shapes, including square, rectangular, round and as balls, and they can be made by baking, charcoal grilling or deep frying them. We love making this relatively easy okaki-style rice cracker at home, called kakimochi. Try them out and tell us what you think!

chakli

Chakli (photo by Milindb05)

Indian food also has a rich tradition of creating savory rice crackers, one of which is chakli. Chakli is made using rice flour mixed with gram flour, lots of spices such as turmeric, ajwain, cumin, chili and clarified butter, or ghee. The batter is poured through a chakli maker into hot oil, and fried until crispy. Whenever you’re in the mood for a spicy rice snack, try making chakli.

Desserts made from rice are just as popular as snacks, starting with rice pudding! Rice pudding is made across the globe, from Southeast Asian kheer to South American arroz con leche. Arroz con Leche Colombiano is sweet and redolent of cinnamon. Long-grain rice is cooked in a mixture of milk, condensed milk, water, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and butter. The final product is cooled until thick and creamy… just perfect for a holiday occasion.

mangostickyrice

Mango sticky rice (photo by Dennis Wong)

Another well-known rice dessert is mango sticky rice, found in many Thai restaurants across the United States and in beach cities across Thailand. Soaked sticky rice is cooked and then simmered in coconut milk, sugar and salt, and topped with peeled Thai mangoes. It’s a refreshing way to end a Thai meal!

Rice desserts can be simple or more colorful and intricate, like the traditional Chinese Ba Bao Fan and the Korean gyeongdan. Ba Bao Fan or “Eight Treasure Rice Pudding” is a traditional dessert served for Chinese New Year in China. This dessert is made by layering eight “treasures” or special ingredients such as sugar-glazed fruit or and sweetened beans onto a base of glutinous rice and sugar. It gets its name from the belief that the number eight is a lucky number for Chinese people because of the similarity of the sound of “ba” (eight) and “fa” which means wealth and prosperity.

babaofan

Ba Bao Fan (photo by kawanet)

Gyeongdan is a rice cake made using glutinous rice powder and hot water. The paste is formed into round balls which are coated with multicolored sweet bean powders.

No matter what you’re in the mood for… rice desserts, rice snacks, rice, rice noodles, rice paper, rice dumplings… this amazing food can satisfy all your cravings! We hope you make a lovely dish for your New Year celebrations and that you share them with us!