Saturday, November 28, 2009


banner There is nothing more disappointing than realising that the rice on the stove is burnt or worse still has turned into a gooey mess.  For so many people, the task of making rice is one fraught with difficulty and despairing hope…

…but help is at hand with a Rice Cooker from Cook Japan – 

With a rice cooker it doesn’t have to be this way…in Japan, and elsewhere across Asia, a simple-to-use hi-tech computer controlled rice cooker is a sight in every kitchen, ensuring perfect rice at the push of a button every time…

…and not only can they cook perfect rice, but rice cookers from the Cook Japan shop can also be used as a slow-cooker or steamer, to make porridge, congee, soup, and also to braise. This makes it a great multi-purpose rice cooker so there’s really no limit to what you can make. In fact, Cook Japan rice cookers have the functionality and fuzzy logic technology you would expect to find in a Japanese rice cooker:

rice cookers

So does it do anything else?

Well, not only do Cook Japan rice cookers make great rice, with their range of other cooking functions and programmes, a 24-hour timer, and automatically switching to “keep warm” when the cooking cycle is finished, there is no limit to what you can cook. Some of our most recent dishes have included:

For more recipes and to see some of the culinary fun we have with our rice cooker read the rest of the blog or visit:

Oh and with Christmas coming, you can even make mulled wine in your rice cooker!

“So, how does it work then?” I hear you ask, well…

…by using computer controlled technology, commonly referred to as fuzzy logic, the rice cooker is able to make adjustments to both temperature and cooking time to cook perfect rice, for example if the rice is too hot and heating too quickly the heating element will be turned down slightly to balance this.  With fuzzy logic the cooking process is improved in 3 key ways:
  1. The temperature sensor control is more accurate and can therefore allow for fine adjustments to the cooking temperature
  2. The heat distribution and conduction around the entire bowl produces more evenly cooked food
  3. The computer can instantly strengthen or weaken the heat ensuring a controlled cooking process
For more information about rice cookers and how to use them, please visit
Thanks, now, I’m off to make some rice…

Friday, November 27, 2009

Risotto alla Milanese (in the Rice Cooker)

To celebrate Cook Japan’s little sister getting a new job, I thought I’d invite her round for one of her favourites dishes…Risotto alla Milanese…
This is a famous Milanese version of risotto cooked with saffron.  The think is, I’ve never cooked risotto before in my life…so given that I also invited my risotto-cooking cousin as well it was a real gamble hoping that I could pull this meal off…
…but before I even started worrying about risotto I’d also decided to make a raft of antipasti dishes to get the dinner started.
So along with some olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and Italian meats from the shops, I also opted to make a variety of toppings for some crostini.  First up was grilled vegetables (easy), followed by a cannellini bean and garlic puree that was then topped with rosemary infused olive oil…
We also tucked into some porcini mushrooms grilled with herbs and mozzarella…
…and some lemons stuffed with mozzarella, basil, anchovy fillets and sun dried tomatoes which were really yummy!
So with all that taken care, it was down to the pièce de résistance…my first time at the hands of a pot of risotto, but this was not any old risotto, it was a double first as it was cooked in my trusty Cook Japan rice cooker!
First up, chopped shallots were braised in butter and olive oil then in went the Arborio rice which was cooked until translucent along with the wine…
…all that was left was to add the saffron infused stock and the remaining stock, switch the rice cooker to “porridge” mode and tuck into the rest of the food while we waited.
No need to constantly stir the risotto and pay attention to the stove, instead after 20-minutes it switched to “keep warm” so in went some more butter then just before serving a pile of grated parmesan to finish the dish off….
…of course I’m biased, but I thought it was really nice and more importantly my sister who lived for a few years in Milan, where she got her love for the dish, though it was great. 
So next time you want to make risotto do it in the rice cooker! 
For more information visit:
Risotto Alla Milanese on Foodista

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rice Cooker Beef Stew

Thankfully Mrs Cook Japan is over last weeks cold, but as the weather stays cold and miserable she still has a desire for hearty meals to keep the cold from the door.  Working from home this afternoon, the smell of meat browning was wafting upstairs along with the sound of onions frying.  As I left to pick up Cook Japan Jnr. from school, she was putting the finishing ingredients into the rice cooker for beef stew…
The onions and meat were both braised in the rice cooker and then in good stew fashion into went the vegetables, water, seasoning and whatever goodies she popped in for flavour.  The whole shebang was then cooked using the “slow cook” function and then left on key warm until dinner time – what could be easier? Just leave it to one side and let the rice cooker work its magic…
On a cold day like today, it was the perfect warming meal…full of flavour, tender meat, and as the eagle-eyed readers may have noticed, some rice on the side. 
For more information visit:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kimchi Nabe

You may already have come across our last night of Nabe action…

…but for those of you who missed out that particular delicacy, nabe is a one-pot Japanese dish consisting of various ingredients which is cooked in (obviously) one –pot in the centre of the table and shared by who ever has the good fortune to be dining with you.

In this case, it was the kids, but once they’d had their fill/got bored of the hassle we pumped up the volume so to speak and chucked in a pile of kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage) and gochujang (fermented chilli sauce) to give it some kick…and a distinctive redder look…


Cooked over a camping stove in the middle of the table, this is a wonderful dish as the weather closes in the nights get longer.  In this case, we had the tofu, shiitake mushrooms, prawns, chunks of white fish, dumplings, pork mince balls, udon noodles and a range of Japanese green vegetables we were fortunate to receive today from a friend with a farm specialising in Japanese produce – but you could get away with some Chinese cabbage and rocket.   


What makes it yummy is the chilli from the kimchi and gochujang.. definitely a cold-boosting dish and a great meal to share with friends (especially if you have a fridge of cold beers on hand)…

…one of the great things about nabe is that as the pot is kept warm on a portable stove in the middle of the table diners can pick what they want and generally graze.  Eating together from a shared pot is considered as an important feature of nabemono; the belief is that eating from one pot makes for closer relationships. The Japanese thus say, Nabe (w)o kakomu (鍋を囲む、"sitting around the pot"), implying that sharing nabemono will create warm relations between the diners who eat together from the shared pot…
Kimchi on Foodista

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Curry and Rice

Unfortunately Mrs Cook Japan has a cold at the moment…but is this a bad thing?  Well to a degree, but that is until you realise her medicinal take on combating said lurgy is to indulge in a fiery curry.  So in a way its true, “every cloud does have a silver lining”.


As regular readers will have realised by now, I’m a pretty honest and upstanding chap, so I won't pretend that I made the 3 curries – that would be just too extreme, but the trusty Cook Japan rice cooker was called into action for the accompanying rice…


…so basmati rice went in the rice cooker, along with a bit of salt and a drizzle of oil to keep its delicate grains firm and tender, and then for a bit of added vavavoom we added some mung beans and fresh herbs – yummy!  Again another sterling performance by our favourite kitchen appliance.

Its a great rice combination and an absolute winner alongside this plethora of curry delights…chicken chat (below), prawn methi (bottom) and the house special which is a lamb meatball curry (top).


…i feel hungry again just blogging it…

Basmati Rice on Foodista

Chirimenjako and Rice

One other thing the recent care package contained was a huge bag of chirimenjako which are just perfect as a topping for a bowl of nice hot rice…


Chirimenjako are not strictly a variety of fish, but more a generic name for very small fish like baby sardines or anchovies that are simmered in saltwater, then dried in the sun.  This particular batch had also then be covered in a nice sweet marinade – a kind of crispy soy and sugar glaze really.

Really tasty, and more than likely quite good for you as well…

Friday, November 13, 2009


The care package from Japan also had some really good noodles in it, so for tea we had yakisoba (fried noodles).  Essentially it’s stir fried noodles with bite sized pieces of pork, vegetables, sometimes seafood, and then flavoured with yakisoba sauce and a bit of seasoning. 


This is such an easy dish to prepare, just get yourself some good noodles (the better the noodles, the better the dish) and everything else is the type of stuff you probably always have around the house.  The one thing you might not have is yakisoba sauce, although lots of asian supermarkets stock it nowadays.  The other option is to make your own – try blending some oyster sauce, soy sauce, mirin, honey and a bit of sugar…

P9190146A very similar dish that is also great to try is yakiudon, where you simply replace the thin ramen-style noodles with the much thicker udon variety, both are extremely tasty and easy to cook.  We make yakisoba a lot at home, but this dish with very good quality noodles was an absolute delight…


Buta-man and Hotate-man (Pork & Scallop Buns)

A care-package arrived from Japan this morning full of delights, two of which were Buta-man (Pork Buns) and Hotate-man (Scallop Buns).

Buta-man is Japanese food made from flour dough, and filled with cooked ground pork or other ingredients. Across Japan they tend to be referred to as nikuman (meat buns), the term Buta-man is more common in the Kansai region.  They are similar to the Chinese baozi.


The Hotate-man is a speciality from Hokkaido, this was the first time I’d tried it and as you can see its a very tasty little fella…


The buta-man has a fabulous minced pork filling and is a great snack food – many convenience stores sell these plus other fillings like curry, pizza and custard.  Its great to be able to eat them here in England, only draw back is when food is this good they don’t last very long in the Cook Japan household…


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mabo Dofu with a twist…

…well i say its a twist, but actually its just a sweet romano pepper, although having said that some do have a kind of twisty shape to them (not convincing ground i know but hey…)  Oh, and a few lily flowers so i guess that’s not to common so counts as kind of twisted…anyway, enough about food contortions its extremely tasty…


Mabo Dofu is a very popular Chinese dish cooked in Japan – originally from the Szechuan province of China, the Japanese equivalent lacks some of the spice, heat and thick sauce of the Chinese dish, but still provides plenty of flavour,  In essence its a dish of tofu, chilli and minced meat (typically pork or beef).

This is one of my favourite dishes and has become a traditional on my birthday – today’s variation had some finely chopped cabbage, rehydrated lily flowers and sweet peppers thrown in for added flavour along with the meat/tofu staple ingredients.  The Japanese version tends to use miso paste rather than chilli paste, but either way its incredibly delicious served on a bed of rice (come on you didn’t really think I’d go through an entire blog without mentioning the wonders of our Cook Japan rice cooker did you?)….


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Steaming hot bowl of noodles

I could wax lyrical about this, but as they say “a picture is worth a thousands words” (not that there is any danger of me writing that much”, but perhaps this is one of the dishes to just look at without my incoherent ramblings…


Oh, go on then…just a few apt sentences then.

Homemade soup stock using very good quality dashi sent from Japan, ramen noodles, some chicken, a bunch of dumplings from our local Chinese supermarket and then topped with homemade pickled spring onions…


…delicious – wonderful on a cold day like today!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Playing with my new Teppanyaki Grill

What a brilliant purchase, a nice new Teppanyaki Grill…
…anticipation in the house was at fever pitch waiting – vegetables were bought, steak marinated, squid cleaned, tofu diced, noodles cooked and homemade yakiniku sauce wonderfully made by Mrs Cook Japan (with grated apple as a zany, but magnificent secret ingredient).
A teppan is an iron griddle used to cook food, essentially frying it, hence teppanyaki…
So with ingredients ready to go, there was only one thing left to do – heat up the baby and start cooking…
…getting started…
…nearly ready…
… yummy! P9100066
Who needs sunshine and fine weather when you can bbq in the warmth and safety of your home on a cold winters evening?!?!
For more information visit:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kind of like dry-curry (and a bit like kedgeree), but also a bit like neither…

…you know how some days there’s nothing really in the fridge, freezer or cupboards from which to concoct dinner?  Well that’s where this came from and thankfully was jolly tasty as well.


As you would expect, and know by now, there was the typical abundance of rice to be found in the cupboards.   It wasn’t to difficult to find an onion, couple of beans and lentils, eggs and the random element in the dish, a frozen “chip shop” battered cod piece from the dark recesses of the freezer.  As for seasoning, curry powder, cumin and some of the usual suspects from the spice rack were roped in for the task as well.

So the idea was something like a Japanese dry curry (basically a kind of curry-flavoured fried rice) and a bit like kedgeree. 

Onions were fried, battered cod went in the oven and then was chopped up, and while all this was going on the trusty Cook Japan rice cooker was busy cooking up some rice with beans and lentils.  Once the rice was cooked, in went the onions, fish pieces and some seasoning and the whole thing mixed up and left on “keep warm” until it was time for dinner…


…so as you can see its a bit like a dry curry and kind of like kedgeree, in fact a pretty good random combination that worked out really tasty, full of flavour and a great way to use up a bunch of bits and bods to make dinner…


…ooh, then I thought “i know”, and cooked up a nice hard boiled egg to give it a bit more of a kedgeree feel (well kind of, if you don’t look to closely)…