Straight Coffee Talk

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So at the expense of revealing how ancient I really am, I want to make it clear that Japan had their own coffee houses long before there was a Starbucks, which as everyone knows, is a big part of what makes Seattle famous–and where tourists come by the thousands just to stand in line to get into the “original” one.

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The original Starbucks in Seattle, WA

Of course, Japan probably borrowed the idea from the European cafés anyway, but the Japanese have a unique way of taking something and refining it somehow. In the 70’s, when coffee shops called kissaten really took off, there were thousands of mostly Mom and Pop places all over country. They would serve gourmet coffee, brewed carefully and individually, from beans imported from all over the world. Sound familiar? Just for some perspective, the first Starbucks store didn’t open until 1971, and they weren’t on every street corner back then.

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A kissaten today (a nostalgic hangout) — The original Cafe Almond (first opened in 1964!)

The market was so competitive, if you were a coffee drinker, you had a vast amount of choices in exotic beans and style of brewing. You could pay for the privilege of an expensive cup of Blue Mountain coffee from the hills of Jamaica, brewed by pour-over with filtered water heated to a precise temperature. It might not seem like a big deal today, but it was this artisanal touch that made you want to go there to experience the ambiance. It’s just not the same when a giant stainless steel machine can do it with a few quick lever pulls and button pushes. *Sigh*

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Load beans, grind, open drawer to get coffee!

For my money, the Pour-Over (pictured above) is still the best way to brew a great cup of coffee. Perfect for a single cup, it makes me wish I still had my wooden mill that I used to have, when I would grind my own beans every morning. Nah, who am I fooling? It’s too easy to have it ground for me at my local Starbucks!

I also had my own personal Siphon coffee maker too, which came with a little alcohol burner to heat the water. I remember first seeing this method at one of the fashionable coffee shops in Tokyo (yes, back in the Seventies) where the barista would tend to 6 or so glass pots, each boiling over a Bunsen burner. After watching the water boil and rise to the upper chamber, each pot of coffee was on a timer, set to go off at the ideal brewing time before being allowed to be taken off the heat and drop down to the bottom chamber for that perfect cup. It’s hard to fully understand the process until you’ve seen it, but it’s one of the most fun ways to brew coffee, and the brew is delicious!

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Hario siphon brewer — Bialetti French press

Then there’s the French Press, which has its fans, but I am not one of them. The idea is to brew the coffee in the glass with the grounds and the hot water, with the plunger all the way up. When your coffee is done, you simply push the plunger down and a built-in filter pushes the grounds down to bottom, leaving your coffee ready to pour. Many people like the fact that there is no paper filter to throw away, but I dislike cloudy coffee; and sediment always remains with the French Press. Purists will argue that the flavorful oils of the coffee beans are protected better with this method.

In 1972 after Mr. Coffee® introduced America to automatic brewing for the home, there have been hundreds of automatic coffee brewing systems that heat and drip the water into a cone or basket filter, which then drips into a carafe. The machine is basically a home version of the machines that have been used in diners for decades, and is ideal for when you want more than one cup of coffee. Some of the good ones like this one from Zojirushi have thermal insulated carafes that can keep your coffee hot for hours, without having to keep it on a heating element.

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Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus — Keurig pod coffee

And I can’t discuss coffee brewing systems without mentioning the ubiquitous pod coffee makers made popular by Keurig®. It doesn’t beat the drip style coffee in my opinion, but it does make a pretty good cup. The company has taken some heat though, for impacting the environment with waste caused by their used pods. As modern convenience goes, it’s not surprising that you see these everywhere. Unlike a drip system, there’s not much to wash and nothing messy to dispose, other than that little pod.

The last method I wanted to bring up was the Drip Sachet, a beautifully engineered drip coffee bag, made to hang on a mug or coffee cup for a single serving. This ingenious marvel of paper die-cutting folds completely flat while it seals the correct portion of fine ground. Carefully unfold it to expose the coffee, prop it securely over your cup, and just pour the hot water–a complete drip system in miniature! From a per serving price point, it’s a little expensive, but so convenient! To me, it’s the best tasting “individual serving” method other than the Pour-Over.

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The coffee sachet folds out into a complete brewing system.

I’m also old enough to remember the Percolator (Google it if you’re interested); my parents had this high tech electric one when I was a kid. Coffee has come a long way indeed.

photos by: Bert Tanimoto, Ann-Marie, Japan Today, Humanosphere
products courtesy of Hario®, Bialetti®, Keurig®, Zojirushi®

 

Japanese Street Food:  Imagawa-yaki!

imagawayaki

Have you ever had one?

An imagawa-yaki or a taiyaki?

If you haven’t, then it should be added to your street food bucket list!

Imagawa-yaki is a grilled, stuffed pastry popularly thought to have originated during the Edo Period in the early 1800’s in a bakery located near the Imagawa Bridge in Tokyo. Many variations of the original imagawa-yaki are available today, including taiyaki and modern savory ‘ima‘s.

Regardless of the type of filling, the batter, made of flour, eggs, sugar and water, is whisked together to a smooth consistency, and then poured into a metal mold and stuffed with either a sweet or savory filling. Imagawa-yaki are made in circular molds, and traditionally filled with sweet, red adzuki bean paste. Some traditional bakeries have innovated spin-offs of the original, even creating a chocolate covered pastry for the summer months!

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Taiyaki

Taiyaki are also extremely popular, especially during Japanese festivals. Shaped like sea bream fish–which are thought to bring good luck—these pastries are filled with sweets, such as bananas and Nutella, custard cream or chocolate. Connoisseurs suggest always getting the head side of the taiyaki, especially if you’re going to share, so you get the most of the sweet gooey filling!

Although traditionally filled with sweets, imagawa-yaki pastries are now also available with savory fillings. Usually found at Japanese fusion bakeries in the United States, these pastries, called ‘ima’s for short, are filled with sausage and peppers, prosciutto and cheese, spinach, feta and sundried tomatoes, and even spicy chilies and meat. These fusion pastries are a modern, international twist on the classic pancake-like pastry!

If you’ve had one of these, tell us about it! And if not… get eating!

Stay tuned for next month’s street food showcase!

 

Essentials of Japanese Cooking:  Miso

We continue our Essentials of Japanese Cooking series this month with a feature on miso… the so in ryori no sa shi su se so. Miso is a fermented paste made from soybeans, salt, either rice or barley, and a fermentation starter called koji. Used in miso soup, as a marinade, in dressings and sauces and a variety of other dishes, miso is an important staple in the Japanese pantry.

Miso is said to have originated in China, as early as the 4th century BCE. It was introduced to the people of Japan by Buddhist monks who traveled from China and brought many new ideas that inspired and informed Japanese food culture. The way Japanese people began to produce miso refined it into a few varieties, each with a distinctive flavor and nutritional profile, texture and umami (the rich and savory taste of glutamate-based foods).

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Four main varieties of Japanese miso are available at most grocery stores in Japan, along with a few specialty gourmet types. The main varieties include rice or ‘kome’ miso, which is the most commonly consumed variety, barley or ‘mugi ‘miso, pure soybean or ’mamemiso, and blended ’awasemiso, made with two or three types of other miso pastes. Each of these pastes are fermented from a few weeks up to three years, and the lighter varieties are more mildly flavored than the darker ones.

Specialty miso pastes including hatcho miso, an all-soybean paste with a medium sweet/strength/saltiness profile, saikyo miso, a golden yellow paste with a naturally sweet, low salt flavor, and moromi miso, a chunky miso with the grains of rice or barley only partially crushed. Each of these specialty miso pastes are used in particular dishes, and not in general preparations such as miso soup or grilled fish.

Miso is high in protein, the B vitamins, enzymes, Vitamin E, fiber, lecithin, isoflavones, peroxidase inhibitors and prostaglandins–all of which may help to nourish and regulate the body. Miso was a critical component of Japanese diets during lean times and famines, and it is still consumed almost daily by people in Japan.

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Miso soup

Traditionally, miso soup is enjoyed first thing in the morning, as part of a Japanese breakfast, to cleanse and nourish the body. (We have a great recipe for tofu misoshiru on our website!) The soup is made using a miso koshi, or small metal strainer, to create an even, smooth broth. Miso is also used in marinades and as a glaze for meat, seafood and vegetables, but must always be added to a dish either before or at the tail end of cooking, so the beneficial nutrients and the delicate flavor in the fermented paste are not destroyed by heat.

Miso is most often used in marinades, sauces and dressings. When used as a marinade, miso helps to breakdown the proteins in fish and poultry, infusing them with umami and drawing out any acidity or bitterness from the animal flesh. Salmon and cod marinated in miso and then broiled are popular preparations for these healthful oily fish. Miso-Marinated Chicken Kushiyaki is a great way to broil chicken. When used in sauces and dressings, miso can be mixed with mayonnaise, ginger, sesame oil, honey, citrus and even spicy sriracha sauce. Miso is even used occasionally in simmered nimono dishes, called miso-ni, in which miso is blended with dashi, mirin, soy sauce and fresh ginger and then used to cook various meat and vegetables.

One of our favorite recipes using miso is Beef Miso and Rice on Salad Leaf. The miso is used to impart a rich flavor to the sautéed ground beef and rice! Try it and tell us how it worked for you.

In our next post, we’ll discuss cooking with sake and mirin, and give you some other great recipes to try out! As always, we’d love to hear about your experiences as a beginner with Japanese cooking, so leave us a comment below.

Zojirushi’s New Stainless Steel Vacuum Carafe (SH-HB10/15)

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We heard you!

We know you love the cute, colorful and very functional Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Carafe (SH-HA10), so we’re excited to tell you that we’re introducing the updated Stainless Steel Vacuum Carafe (SH-HB10/15) this month!

The new carafe is available in 1.0 liter (34 ounces) and 1.5 liter (51 ounces) sizes. It comes in two colors—Stainless and Copper—and has all of the great standout features that Zojirushi prides itself on: superior heat and cold retention, 2 ½ inch wide mouth compatible with many direct brewing attachments, unbreakable stainless steel construction inside and out, easy-to-remove pinch-release lid and one-touch pour for easy serving. Of course, the new Stainless Steel Vacuum Carafe is easy to clean, too!

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So why do these features matter when you’re choosing a carafe?

Well, Wiscobob gave us this review on August 20, 2015 about how durable and easy it is to use:

“I was tired of breaking glass carafes so decided to give this a try. Combined with the RSVP Manual Drip Coffee Filter Cone it works perfectly. Easy to clean and robust. Keeps coffee warm (if not hot) for a good 12 hours or more. Heck, even after 24 hours it is still warm. And yes, I’ll pop a cup into the microwave to warm it up the next morning and it still seems fresh.”

Cory DeNuccio said, “This is so nice and attractive for coffee on the patio! Or upstairs! Awesome quality! Holds about four cups! Keeps coffee piping hot!!” on May 12, 2015.

And another Amazon Customer said “I’ve always been happy to make coffee with a simple Melitta cone drip system. But the glass carafe is easy to break. So I end up precariously perching a #4 cone atop random vessels. This carafe fulfills the promise “Accommodates most direct brewing attachments”. A nifty pinch-to-unlatch system makes it easy to remove the top. This reveals a wide & flat opening that easily supports a filter cone. The squat shape, rounded handle, & thumb latch make one-hand pouring a snap. What’s not to love?” on February 21, 2014.

You can use it for serving guests, keeping your own tea or coffee hot throughout the day at the office, for RV travel, or for keeping cool, fresh water near your bedside at night. It’s a great, versatile product, and we hope you enjoy the new one, inspired by everyday life, and available now!

 

What is Rice Really?: Medium-Grain Rice

mediumgrainriceWe continue our series about rice this month with an exploration of medium-grain rice!

Medium-grain rice is classified as such because of its size, with each grain measuring two to three times longer than it is wide (or, in more scientific terms, between 5.0 – 5.99 mm in length, and possessing a grain shape with a ratio of 2.1-3.0). When cooked, medium-grain rice tends to be moist and to stick together, although the stickiness varies depending upon how it is prepared. Asia produces the largest amount of medium-grain rice, but it’s a popular crop elsewhere in the world, as well.  In the US, medium-grain rice is grown in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas.  It’s becoming an important crop in Africa and Latin America, too.

Different types of rice are suited to different types of cooking; for example, short-grain rice is the most common type used in Japanese cuisine, and long-grain rice, which we’ll talk about next month, is the most common type used in gourmet Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Medium-grain rice also has its special uses. In Japanese cuisine, especially when made outside of Japan, medium-grain rice is often substituted for short-grain. It is also heavily consumed in parts of South India, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa, Central America, South America and in parts of Europe—especially Italy, where it is ideal for risottos. In the US South, medium-grain rice is used in puddings and desserts.

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Fava Bean Risotto

Medium-grain rice is used in some of the most delicious recipes! You can find an excellent recipe for Fava Bean Risotto, full of savory creaminess perfect for the spring crop of fresh fava beans. We also recommend this beautiful Arroz con Pollo, where the cook’s who’ve tried the recipe prefer using medium-grain rice to long-grain rice—and how about this spicy Cajun Jambalaya created by Emeril Lagasse? Don’t forget to finish it all off with this classic British Rice Pudding!

Medium-grain rice is versatile, nutritious and perfect for so many kinds of dishes.  We hope you enjoy these recipes and please let us know how they turned out. Stay tuned for next month’s post about long-grain rice and more great recipes!

A Day In The Life

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Well, maybe it’s more than a day, but I’ve always wanted to use that title. I just thought I’d share some of my cell phone shots, which show what I’ve been doing lately. Think of it as my Instagram feed, except in blog form. I haven’t been very good about posting these days, so this is my way of catching up.

superba4On weekends we go out to eat a lot–it’s become our activity to explore places we’ve never been, to see if those Yelp or Serious Eats reviewers know what they’re talking about. SUPERBA was one of those places. I got the beet marinated salmon on artisanal bread, dressed in herbal goat cheese and topped with capers. Pretty tasty, except it shocked me at first because I couldn’t figure out where the salmon was. Then I realized–oh yeah, marinated in beets!

I think this was the day we ended up with something less frou-frou and more to my liking for dinner–Croquette Curry at COCO ICHIBANYA, my favorite Japanese style curry place. I’m a bit of a wimp. I can’t go past Spicy #2 without setting my hair on fire.

Some Saturday mornings we’ll fight the laziness and make it to the beach (we live about a mile away) and take a morning walk. The seagulls and surfers are usually already out there by the time we get there, but at least we make the effort, right? Did I tell you we drive there even though we’re only a mile away?

My weekday mornings are much earlier. Since my work commute is pretty far (70 miles), I leave when it’s still dark and I come back when it’s already dark, during the winter months when the days are short. But it’s peaceful when there’s no cars yet in the city. You can see the sun just rising as the moon above is just setting. In no time though, I’m on the freeway and hitting morning traffic. I pass my time listening to audio books on CDs and MP3 players like the one you see here. I’ve “read” so many great books now, more than I’ve ever read in my entire life. How did I ever get through college as an English major?


Guisados3Recently on another “family activity day”, we drove up to downtown Los Angeles to have lunch at GUISADOS, a Mexican place we found on Yelp, where they’re known for their soft tacos. They have this sampler dish on the menu with 6 different tacos; I’ve never bothered to remember what I’m eating, I just know they’re all muy bueno. (My daughter goes there for the horchata.)

That day since we were in the area, we decided to extend the field trip by stopping in Hollywood, where we never go–and now we know why; bad traffic, bad parking, too many tourists. But I couldn’t resist taking a picture of David Bowie’s star on the Walk of Fame–I’m a classic rock fan, remember? RIP Ziggy, you were way too young to leave us on earth.

Sometimes dinner is simple. We’ll go to In-N-Out and just bring it home. I took a shot of thein_out employees hard at work, making the best hamburgers in the West, right from the car at the drive-thru window. My son, who is going to school in Boston right now, told us that people on the East Coast think In-N-Out is the holy grail of hamburgers. Lucky we live L.A., eh? But it’s all relative…a lot of people here think Shake Shack from New York is the best. I’ve had both, they’re both good and different so it’s tough to compare, but In-N-Out is the better value for sure.

honeyOur trending dessert for us right now is an ice cream place called HONEYMEE. It’s actually a rich and creamy kind of soft-serve, with a cube of real raw honey, still in its honeycomb, sitting on top. What it reminds me of is the old days when I would stop at a gas station to get a soft-serve from those machines. Of course, this is much better–the milk is real and flavorful, without being too sweet. I can do without the honeycomb, which is basically like chewing wax.

This was fun to write…thanks for reading!

All photos by Bert Tanimoto

Japanese Street Food: Crepes

Last month we featured savory, comforting, delicious ramen.

This month… crepes!

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More specifically, Japanese-style crepes. You’ve heard of crepes from France, filled with sweet fruit compote or ham, eggs and cheese. And you’ve probably tried crepes from other countries, like rice-and-lentil-based dosa from India. But Japanese crepes are unique, interesting and quintessentially youthful!

Crepes are thin pancakes, and in Japan, they are made to be sweet. The batter, consisting of eggs, milk, water, salt, flour and butter, is poured onto a griddle, and spread very, very thin in the shape of a circle using a crepe paddle. The crepe is cooked through until golden, then transferred to a plate using a long, flat spatula.

And that’s where the specialness of this Japanese street food begins!

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Fillings and toppings range from fruit—such as strawberries and bananas, chocolate and whipped cream—to potato salad, hot dogs, tuna, pizza toppings, spaghetti, cheesecake and even frankfurter salad with lettuce, frankfurter, turkey, kidney beans and ketchup! Any and all of these fillings are rolled inside the crepe, and then served in a paper cone.

The varieties are endless, and unique to the ubiquitous crepe shops that have popped up across metropolitan areas in Japan since crepes were introduced in the 1970’s. Today, young people from middle school through college congregate at crepe shops to savor the flavors of this great street food.

Regardless of what type of crepe becomes your favorite, this iconic Japanese street food is always something we’d love to eat! Tell us about your favorite crepe… and try out one of our favorite recipes!

Stay tuned for next month’s street food showcase!

Essentials of Japanese Cooking:  Vinegar & Soy Sauce

Last month, we started our Essentials of Japanese Cooking series with the first two ingredients of ryori no sa shi su se so—sugar and salt—and how they’re used to begin preparing a simmered dish. We continue this month with the next two ingredients… vinegar and soy sauce.

Vinegar, or su, is a key ingredient in the traditional Japanese pantry. Japanese vinegar is typically made from rice and has a light, golden brown color and mild, sweet taste, without the strong acidity found in distilled or wine vinegars. Rice vinegar serves many purposes in Japanese cooking: it is a preservative used for pickling, it prevents discoloration of vegetables and rice, it tones down salty flavors and tenderizes meat, poultry and fish, and is used to prepare sushi rice and sunomono, Japanese pickled salad. As part of the ‘principle of five’, vinegar is used to marinate ingredients before they are cooked and to add to the supercharged liquids used for simmering. It’s also used to create complexity in sauces, dressings and pickles.

Sunomono

Assorted sunomono

Vinegar’s acidity is balanced by the savory taste of shoyu, or Japanese soy sauce, the se. Two types of shoyu are most predominantly used in Japanese cooking: light (usukuchi shoyu) typically used in Kansai style cooking and dark (koikuchi shoyu), traditionally used in Kanto style cooking. Both types of soy sauce are made from soy beans, wheat, rice, salt and yeast, with the ingredients fermented and aged naturally to give the resulting sauce a rich flavor.

In Japan, shoyu is both mass-produced and artisanally prepared. Traditionally, shoyu is made by combining the ingredients and fermenting them in large vats that are hand-stirred. Larger manufacturers follow a similar process, but allow machines to mix the ingredients. In either process, the sauce is aged for at least six months. Koikuchi shoyu is produced most often, and is considered the ‘standard’ type of Japanese soy sauce. It is made with equal parts soy and wheat, plus salt and yeast. This darker soy sauce is used for simmered dishes and most often in home cookery.

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Usukuchi shoyu, the second most popular soy sauce is lighter and saltier than koikuchi shoyu. It’s the preferred soy sauce for haute cuisine and recipes originating from the Kansai region of Japan, and because of its lighter color and unique flavor in dips and sauces that need to be light in color. Usukuchi shoyu is made from soy, wheat, salt and yeast, and is often flavored with fermented rice, wheat gluten or amakaze.

Tamari, Saishikomi and Shiro shoyu are specialty types of sauces, often used as dipping sauces and for flavoring specific dishes.

Shoyu is serious business in Japan, as it is one of the essential condiments used in all Japanese cuisine. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry and the Japanese Soy Sauce Association both monitor the grading and labeling of shoyu. Grades include special, first grade, standard grade, extra select and ultra-extra select and labeling includes the notation of any additives, whether the ingredients were grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, whether the sauce was made from the whole soy bean, whether the sauce is low sodium and whether it raw and unpasteurized.

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Nimono

Simmered dishes, or nimono, rely a great deal on sa shi su se so used in a dish in a particular order, and are exemplary of the fundamental rules of Japanese cooking. Vinegar is used to tenderize or marinate meat or poultry before adding these types of tougher materials to a simmered dish, and is used to coat vegetables after quickly simmering to prevent discoloration. Shoyu is often added to simmering liquids to impart light to robust flavor and umami to foods. Each step of a nimono recipe is performed precisely in an order that enhances the qualities of each ingredient, building complexity while remaining delicate and true to the tastes of the food itself.

We have a lovely Nimono (Japanese Summer Vegetable Stew) recipe on our website that is easy for beginners and we hope you enjoy trying it!

In our next post, we’ll discuss how miso is used and how this essential of the Japanese pantry is used in many dishes. We’d love to hear back from you about your experiences as a beginner with Japanese cooking, so leave us a comment below.

 

Zojirushi’s Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle – EA-DCC10

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Pancakes, pancakes, and more pancakes. It’s winter and we all want the warmth of comforting food.

Our Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle (EA-DCC10) is a great appliance for everyday cooking, and while griddles are traditionally used for pancakes (and we are giving you some great recipes below!), the Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle is versatile enough to use for any meal. It has an extra-large surface that allows you to cook everything from breakfast dishes like pancakes, French toast, sausage, bacon and hashbrowns, to stir-fries, gyoza, cuts of meat and poultry, and burgers. The unique lid spans the entire cooking surface, cutting down on cooking time, helping foods cook more evenly and allowing you to steam food directly on the griddle.

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The Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle’s other features also make it a great appliance to add to your countertop. The heating element runs the entire width and length of the griddle for even heat distribution, which means no hot or cold spots on the cooking surface.  The cooking surface itself is made of cast aluminum, covered by dual ceramic layers, which help with heat conduction and retention, as well as a titanium enhanced nonstick, diamond-patterned surface that makes the plate durable and easy to clean.

Temperature control is easy with the Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle’s temperature control plug, which can be set anywhere from a “keep warm” 175°F all the way to 425°.  The plug is removable, making the griddle plate fully immersible and easy to clean—and, when you are ready to start cooking again, the plug clicks when inserted so that you can be sure it’s securely in.

EA-DCC10 Disassembles

Fully disassemblable

All parts disassemble for cleaning and the body guard and the cooking plate can also be immersed in water.

The EA-DCC10 has been designed with safety in mind. The griddle will not heat up unless all parts have been properly installed. The body guard protects the user from scalding or burns, and the handles are heat resistant, so the griddle can be transported easily and moved around on the countertop.

This griddle is practical, versatile and easy-to-use. For more information, check out our demonstration video. And, as we promised… here are some great pancake recipes for you to try. Don’t forget to share your own recipes with other Zojirushi fans!

Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes

Gluten-Free Pancakes

Okonomiyaki with Shrimp, Kansai-Style

Seafood Jeon (Korean-Style Pancakes)

What is Rice Really?: Short-Grain Rice

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We’re back this month with our second blog about rice and the deep relationship we, as a human race, have with this amazing grain. Rice is grown all over the world, existing in many shapes, colors, sizes and flavors.

As we wrote last month, the rice plant is a type of grass, which produces fruit that ripens into grains of rice. When ready, the plants are harvested, dried and threshed, which results in unrefined rice grains that are separated from the plant stems and leaves. The unrefined grains go on to be cleaned, polished and packaged before they are used to create the many dishes that human societies all over the world relies on for nutrition and sustenance.

During the processing phase, rice grains are generally grouped by their origins, and then by size (short, medium or long grain), by the color of the refined grain (white, purple, red or black) and by its texture (loose or sticky). The initial de-husking removes the outer hull surrounding the rice grain, exposing the bran. The bran is either left on the rice—resulting in brown rice if the inner grain is white—or the bran is removed, which leaves the inner grain exposed for polishing, resulting in white rice. Colored rice varieties, like red and black, can be eaten with or without their bran covering.

Short grain white rice

Short grain white rice

Short-grain rice is the most common type used in Japanese cuisine, giving it the broad classification Japonica. (By contrast, long grain rice is categorized as Indica.) These grains are almost round in appearance, and typically less than 5mm long and 2.5 mm wide. These varieties require less water to cook and generally result in starchy or sticky rice. The short grain rice used in Japanese cooking is called uruchi mai, and while there are hundreds of varieties available, popular ones include koshihikari, hitomebore, akitakomachi and sasanishiki. These rice varieties have sweet, nutty flavors, ranging from sticky to loose and plump in texture, and are used to make sushi rice and served as an accompaniment to a meal. Mochi gome, also known as glutinous or sweet rice, is another type of extra-sticky, opaque, short-grain Japanese rice that is used to make mochi, a sweet delicacy with a chewy texture. All of these short grain rice varieties have been produced for decades (if not hundreds of years!) and grace the table of Japanese people across the globe.

Stay tuned for next month’s post about medium-grain rice and check out some of our favorite rice recipes online… especially this one for mochi!