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Japanese Stay-Warm Cooking Pots


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A few years ago in Hong Kong, I picked up an interesting Japanese cooking pot, which was all the rage over there. It it basically a tall stainless steel pot, which fits inside an insulating thermos. The idea is to heat up your stew (or whatever) to boiling, then put the inner pot in the outer insulating thermos. The dish continues to cook at low temperatures because of the good insulation. After 6 or however many hours you have a dish that is cooked even slower than a slow-cooker dish, and without using much power.

I used this a few times for Oxtail stew, and it is quite good for pre-cooking chickpeas. However, I haven't used it in a while.

Anyone else use one of these things? What do you use it for?

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What don't I cook in my thermal cookers? I own two, both Tiger brand: an 8-liter and a 4.5-liter. They are indispensible for saving on fuel-consumption year-round, especially for avoiding heating up the house in the hot summer months, and for enabling me to cook foods while I am out of the house. I have found that one or the other is in use at any time.

Let me count the ways:

braising red-cooked pork belly and carnitas

making stews such as chili, goulash, and curries

cooking soups and chowders

making stocks

simmering vegetables and fruits such as collards, fried cabbage, and stewed apples

soaking and cooking beans

boiling vegetables such as potatoes and carrots

poaching whole chicken

making rice and sweet-rice porridges

keeping hot food hot, and cold food cold

cooking at campsites

I suppose you could cook rice in it, but I use my trusty "fuzzy logic" rice-cooker for that.

These two thernal cookers are probably a couple of the best gadgets I ever got for my kitchen.

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That point about avoiding heating up the kitchen in hot weather -- that's also one of the main advantages of these thermal pots in my home.

I like it for cooking delicate things like fish, and to some extent, chicken.

It can't be beat for bean cookery - if you want that cooked-down, crusty-topped finish, you can always transfer it to an oven at the end.

Stewed apples - yes. I have a recipe for buttered stewed apples with a very light, eggy sponge dumping on top which is perfect for the thermal pot.

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  • 2 years later...

Maybe a better question would be: If you have a thermal cooking pot, how often do you actually use it? Or is it stored with the fondue set that you also never use?

Monterey Bay area

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I use mine all the time, in fact I wouldn't mind having another one. And yes, the Shuttle Chef Hiroyuki refers to is one brand. They are in the stores now in all kinds of bright colors, and they must have improved the insulation, as they are noticeably more compact than my trusty old one (which of course is never going to "break down" and need replacing :hmmm: ).

Cooking with stored heat is only part of the attraction - most of the time I use it to keep food hot until the last member of the family gets home 3-4 hours after dinner was first served. During winter, it's nice just to keep food warm at the table for those who want a second helping (the insulated lid is detachable, and while food naturally cools faster without the top lid, it will certainly stay warm over dinner.

I've never seen a dedicated recipe book, even in Japan where these things are quite common.

You do have to make allowances for the fact that the cooking liquid won't reduce any further once it goes in the pot - but food usually needs to be covered in hot liquid to cook through.

Stews and soups are obvious choices, but it's also good for getting a head start on things (such as soaking porridge oats in hot water overnight, or bring unsoaked beans to the boil and then put them in the pot for half a day - large beans may need both overnight soaking then a reheat and additional cooking during the day.)

Because the heat is so gentle, it is particularly good for fish or chicken, which tend to lose a lot of taste in a crockpot. Conversely, when I did a comparison test on pulled pork using a pressure cooker and my thermal pot, the pressure cooker produced much softer meat.

I also use my pot to make bechamel sauce or very thick white sauce for croquettes - it can taste horrible if it is not cooked properly, and that takes much longer than recipes usually say. I bring the milk and seasonings to the boil, put them in the thermal pot to mature for a bit, cook the sauce over heat, then leave it in the thermal pot for 2-3 hours to make sure the starch is properly cooked and the sauce matured.

It's also very useful for mulling wine!

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Question: wouldn't such a thing be ideal for a Tagine?

(where the condenser/lid is supposed to retain the liquid, so less is used at the start...)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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