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!

Essentials of Japanese Cooking: Wagashi


Throughout the year, we’ve focused on the essentials of Japanese cooking, from basic pantry items to the principles of washoku, Japan’s culinary tradition. From the basic ingredients of sa shi su se so (sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce and miso) to the more complex creation of dashi and umami tastes, we’ve explored how to prepare appetizers, soups, pickles and main dishes. This month, our post focuses on wagashi, or traditional Japanese sweets.

Wagashi, which literally means “Japanese sweet snack”, are bite-sized confections. They are traditionally made with simple, plant-based ingredients. The simplicity of the ingredients, however, is deceptive, as wagashi are created based on washoku principles of the Five Tastes and the Five Senses and take into account the seasonality of the natural world.


Dorayaki, or sweet pancakes filled with red bean paste

Wagashi is said to have originated in Japan during the time Japanese emissaries returned to the country from visiting China in the 8th century.  The first truly Japanese form of wagashi was a mochi and azuki bean dumpling sweetened with the juice of various vines. As this delicacy became more popular and spread to cities influenced by the aristocracy along the west coast of Japan, such as Matsue and Kanazawa, wagashi creation and design flourished. In the 12th century, wagashi became part of formal tea ceremonies and was paired with bitter matcha tea. When sugar was introduced to Japan in the 16th century, wagashi became easier and less expensive to produce, making it available to the general population.

The variety of wagashi is vast, and it is classified using a few criteria: formal vs. every day, production method, moisture content and shape.


Girl’s day wagashi

Formal wagashi are served at tea ceremonies or special events and are sculpted to represent a seasonal motif for the particular event, such as cherry blossoms in the spring to celebrate Girl’s Day. Every day wagashi are found at street vendors and shops and come in the form of dumplings or cakes or specialized shapes, with various fillings and toppings, usually made in the morning to be eaten that day.

Some of the formal wagashi are crafted based on the seasons. Their base flavors include the five tastes–sweet, salty, sour, bitter and spicy–with a particular taste emphasized according to what is seasonally available. For example, in the spring, when people gravitate towards sour flavors, wagashi are flavored with oranges. Each piece is also crafted to appeal to the five senses, from the seasonal motifs of each shape, to the fragrance of the ingredients, to the taste, to the texture to the sounds of nature that are evoked when eating a piece.


Mizuyoukan, or soft sweet bean jelly

Making wagashi is considered a craft, and wagashi makers can be awarded the title of “Contemporary Master Craftsman”. Wagashi craftsmen take pride in creating confections that balance seasonal flavors and motifs, from traditional cherry blossoms to modern Santa Clauses, appealing to the tastes of all generations. Going to a wagashi shop will make you anticipate the season or special event or festival to come!

Modern wagashi are made with eggs, milk and chocolate, and also come in beautiful shapes and colors.

One type of wagashi commonly found in the United States is called daifuku, which can be made at home. Pair it with Matcha Tea and you have your own homemade snack break!

We’d love to hear about your wagashi experiences, so be sure to leave us a photo and a note in the comments below!

Essentials of Japanese Cooking: Kaiseki Ryori & Shojin Ryori


Refined, delicate, purposeful, seasonal, healthy, flexible… all of these words describe the essence of Japanese cuisine, or washoku. As part of our exploration of the essentials of Japanese cooking, we’ve learned about the ingredients and foundational foods at the core of this cuisine. This month, we explore the principles of the washoku tradition that guide kaiseki ryori and shojin ryori.

Washoku is often translated to mean harmony (“wa”) and food (“shoku”). According to Elizabeth Andoh, one of Japan’s premier chefs, in her book Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, “washoku, or the “harmony of food” is a way of thinking about how we eat and how [food] can nourish us. The term describes both a culinary philosophy and the simple, nutritionally balanced food prepared in that spirit.”

This philosophy is best illustrated by an ichiju sansai meal, which consists of a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup and three side dishes, typically comprised of a piece of grilled fish or meat or tofu, pickles and simmered vegetables. An ichiju sansai meal is the typical meal served at lunch and dinner in Japanese households and is loosely translated to mean “well-balanced meal”. Both kaiseki ryori, Japanese haute cuisine, and shojin ryori, Japanese temple food, rely on this framework.


An example of ichiju sansai

Kaiseki ryori (as seen in the title image) offers a richer, more elaborate but no less balanced version of an ichiju sansai meal. Kaiseki meals were originally prepared as part of formal Japanese tea ceremonies, and were later served to nobles as a sign of wealth and class. A kaiseki meal consists of four courses or “sets” offered in a prescribed sequence. The starters set includes an aperitif course (skokuzen-shu) in which a small cup of sake or wine is served, followed by an appetizer course, consisting of decoratively prepared bite-sized appetizers served on a long dish called a hassun. The starters are followed by the main set, which consists of a soup course (suimono), a sashimi course (otsukuri), a simmered dish (nimono), a grilled dish (yakimono), a deep fried dish (agemono), a steamed dish (mushimono) and a pickled dish (sunomono). The third set, called a shokuji set, includes a bowl of white rice, miso soup, and pickles (tsukemono). Finally, the meal is concluded with a small dessert of fruit, confections, sorbet or ice cream.

Though there are many dishes in a kaiseki meal, each dish is served in small proportions, slowly and with great attention to detail, and with the utmost in hospitality. Even seating, tables, flowers, quiet and privacy are considered in the preparation of a kaiseki meal! Today, kaiseki meals are served in Michelin-starred and fancy Japanese-style restaurants and high-end ryokan, or Japanese-style inns.


Shojin ryori

Devotional or temple cooking, known as shojin ryori, hones the concept of “harmony of food” into a set of offerings that are based on Buddhism’s inherent respect for living a life that eschews doing harm. This type of cuisine became popular in the early 11th century when Buddhist monks used this way of “earnest commitment” to procure, prepare, serve and eat their meals. At its most fundamental nature, shojin ryori is vegan, consisting of no animal products, uses gentle seasonings and reduces waste as much as possible. A typical meal consists of a few vegetables such that all parts are used, the leaf, the root, the skins, prepared using simple techniques like blanching, simmering and braising, along with rice, soup, pickles, beans, legumes and tofu. Each item is prepared simply, without strong tastes such as garlic, chilies or wasabi. The entire meal is prepared with quiet thoughtfulness and eaten with reverence. Restaurants that serve shojin ryori meals offer more creative versions of this honest, simple food and are becoming more popular as people are gravitating towards a plant-based diet.

Both kaiseki ryori and shojin ryori style meals make a conscious effort to use seasonal ingredients, taking care to respect when foods are most fresh and full of their inherent flavor. These two styles of cuisine are also deeply concerned with how food is presented, including how ingredients are cut, arranged, plated and served.

The utter refinement of washoku in these cooking styles shows you the wonderful variety of Japanese cuisine. Which ones have you tried? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!