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Rice Cooker - NOT non-stick?

I had been looking for not non-stick rice cookers for a while, and something more than just the basic. (For people with normal jobs, the timer feature by itself is invaluable).
For reference, previously we have (still have) a Zojirushi with non-stick and also several basic Panasonic/National ones. The non-stick started peeling with the Panasonics.

I've found 2 options:
* A "clay" pot option, http://vitaclaychef.com/home . My brother got something similar, he says it works, clean up is not too fussy, some minor soaking. I did not go for this because contaminants can be in clay and, well, just check where this clay comes from ...
* The Buffalo. It is really expensive, as much as any Zoji or National. The inner pot is just plain stainless and seems really well made, no complaints. The rest of the cooker? Well, it immediately needed to go back for warranty / fix (which was fairly painless, but doesn't bode well), but since then has been in action for over a year and no problems. I don't worry about it falling apart, but there are NUMEROUS usability issues when compared with the Zoji. Just to name a few
- Controls for timer are confusing. There are 2 timer buttons, it's not the big one most of the time (don't know what that does).
- The LCD display is not easily readable unless at eye level (anyone put their rice cooker at eye level?
)- When opening the lid, be careful of steam scalding your hand. This just doesn't happen with the Zoji or National for some reason.
- There is a small steam "valve" that is removeable for cleaning, and nothing else. But stuff gets stuck in all sorts of places and this is why the Zoji comes apart easily for cleaning!

Cleaning the steel pot is not so hard. It does stick, but just throw in a bit of water, close the lid a bit and clean it after your meal. It just needs some moisture, doesn't have to be soaked, to keep the rice easily removeable.

I later also noticed this funky pot http://www.san-dynamic.com.hk/eng/sho... but I think it is not for NorthAmerican voltage, it has a ceramic inner pot.

Overall, I think I would be happier with the Buffalo if it were half the price since there are so many shortfallings outside of the pot, but I don't worry about it failing and I think it will last a while.

By the way, we had taste testings of the Zoji, clay pot and the Buffalo stainless and nobody detected many obvious differences, nothing consistent. Some one prefer rice from one cooker and some people preferred the other. Overall, I thought the Zoji "Quick cook" mode actually makes the best.

Feb 17, 2013
EatsFats in Cookware

18-inch dishwasher recommendations

I ended up getting the 24" due to cost. The larger one was on sale and also did not need custom cabinet sizing to fill up the extra 6". But since it is otherwise the same machine, I thought I'd mention it.
Extremely quiet in operation, I've had guests accidentally open it while in operation. The organization doesn't blow me away,but I've not a lot to compare to. For reference though, small family of four, we run it maybe twice a week. (dunno about those people who run once a day. Maybe we pack well or really efficient in our dish usage?)
Cleaning power is okay, I find it's really dependent on the detergent. Nothing yet that gets off egg residue and pots never really do that we'll either.
Still,it's now 2013 and it has been performing reliably, zero problems.

Jan 27, 2013
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

Well, maybe others may think it's odd, but I use this pan for just about everything. Eggs of all types of course. I find the sloped side makes it easy to get a fork under there and just roll up the egg (sort of like tamago style). Grilled fish (I just did a trout tonight, you can get a nice crispy skin on that, no stick), bulgogi short ribs, bacon, pancakes, french toast, corn bread, plain toast, paella, risotto even fried rice. Even tried rice noodles/rolls. No particular advantage to the pan for rice noodles, but it works.

Dec 02, 2012
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

First off, get the 24cm. Don't even consider the 22cm unless you're on some sort of minimal dietary restriction routine and just cooking for yourself. I got the 24cm, normally just cook for 2 and I wish it were bigger. (Nope, we are not American-sized). Don't know how thick your omelettes are, but the 24cm is barely enough for 2 large egg omelettes here.

The pan comes nicely prepared so my first mistake (duh!) was inadvertently introducing some detergent. That just meant I had to re-season the pan. Eventually what worked was scrubbing it hard & clean, then starting the seasoning. Making a few bacon meals helps :-) It also takes time, you might miss a few spots the first time, but just keep going, eventually it will sort itself out and the flaking bits goes away.
The second important tip, not sure if I read that here or elsewhere, get the natural fibre scrubby brushes. I tried all sorts of plastic brushes (definitely no metal), but none worked as well as these brushes. Not sure what they're made of, but you can find it in most Asian stores I think. They remove the gunk without removing the seasoning. And for what it's worth, the one I got from the Japanese store worked a lot better than the one I snagged from the Taiwanese store. When cleaning, just scrub with hot water and the brush.

I won't say the pan works better than any other cast iron pan, pretty much the same as the el-cheapo one my mother has, but it looks way better and light enough for my wife to handle.
As a non-stick, I give it the edge over my 2nd favourite pan, aluminum with a thick layer of anodizing (no non-stick coating). Overall, I am tempted to give the anodized aluminum the edge. Care is much easier and works better for most meals, on the other hand, I'll bet the cast iron lasts longer, the surface can't get damaged as it's the same material throughout. It's a great pan, as I mentioned before, I only wish the pan were bigger.

Dec 02, 2012
EatsFats in Cookware

What is the best Salmon and where to eat it?

We've eaten on both Island and Mainland. Your best bet is to go to the docks and get it from the fisherman, the whole thing. Not sure about Vancouver, the Granville Island docks and Steveston docks are sometimes a bit of a "scam",the public doesn't get the best stuff. I had no problem out on the Island.
Then, you go cook it yourself. Freshly caught salmon is hard to mess up (don't overcook) and you don't have to do anything to it really.

If you are eating it raw, go to the shops or the docks and get the flash frozen ones, unless you like risking parasites.

Apr 08, 2011
EatsFats in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

Thanks for the suggestions. Those types of "natural" scrubbies can be found all over the place here. I do live in a foodie town :-)
I did think about oiling up the pan after each wash with the paper towel, the problem is that the Iwachu is fairly coarse (compared to most other cast irons I'm used to), so I end up leaving little bits of paper residue on the pan...

Feb 27, 2011
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

Which ScotchBrite? :-)
No, it is not Scotch brand and it's a sponge that I wouldn't use for the "normal" pots & pans because it isn't strong enough to take off anything on those...
At any rate, I have transitioned over to just a coarse rag, no more brush or scrubby sponge.
(For the life of me, I can't remember what I used to wash my mom's pan with, even though I was the one who did most of the washing!)

Feb 25, 2011
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

Eh? Too thick? Not sure what you mean. No, the pan came all black. I now see bits of "silver" metal poking through, so definitely I've scrubbed off whatever was on there before. Also strangely, try as I might, I don't get black bits on my cloth or sponge, but it comes off during cooking only...

Feb 25, 2011
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

So, it's been a while. How has the pan been doing?
It started off great. It was more non-stick than anything else we had ever used, non-stick included. Eggs, hashbrowns, omelettes with cheese, rice cake, fish. Yeah, since almost nothing stuck, it was also easy to clean

Then the issue was little black specks coming off into the food. It was still non-stick, but the black dots were disconcerting. It didn't taste like anything, but still...
I checked around and people said it's because I use too much soap (really, just the residual on a scrubby sponge) and that I needed to re-season and never use anything but a plain brush. Really? So I fried up some bacon and baked the pan. That seemed to do the trick, but then after only a couple of times, I realized my brush was worse than anything else, soap or no, so it's back to re-season and just a coarse cloth. I'm seeing how that works out. At least seasoning is fairly easy, but it stinks up the house so I have to do it outside in the barbecue...

Feb 25, 2011
EatsFats in Cookware

Kei's Bakery Back in Business?!

They are indeed up and running. Not bad, but not the same either.
I think the word has not gotten back out, so the problem is they are not getting enough business and may have to shut down...

Dec 18, 2010
EatsFats in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

Well, after a light seasoning, I finally used it. I doubt the surface roughness will go down, not unless I do some serious scrubbing or if by "seasoning" you mean building up a fine layer of crud. It's very rough, not just a little dimply.
First dish ... what else, a plain omelette. Just heat it up (gas stove ;-), no seriously, I'm sure there are induction fans, but ask any chef if they prefer to use induction or gas...), put a tiny bit of oil and and throw in the already scrambled eggs (yes, they are organic free range local eggs).

How did it do? Simply amazing. No "non-stick" pan could've done better. I let it cook a bit on one side, there was zero stick. I just flipped flipped the omellette on the other side by tossing it in the air, that's what I mean by no stick. (And it helped the pan wasn't too heavy). That was it. Clean up was a cinch, just wipe down with hot water and cloth.

The handle did not get too hot, I just held it with bare hands and it may be a little warm...
Only time will tell how this holds up, but so far, it's great. Totally worth it. I'd say middling price after all the shipping, not the really cheap cast iron, but neither like Le Creuset. Don't care about any warranty or stuff either, chances any cast iron pan is going to break??

Dec 11, 2010
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

Are you kidding? Gas. There's no substitute, it's such a big change from everything else I used before (actually I grew up with gas, then there was a dark period in the middle...)

By the way, since I got this from Japan, the instructions and everything are all completely Japanese, so ... unless you have a handy translator like me, you will have to wing it.

I started prepping the pan (oh, I'm taking my time, what little I have, with this one) and I'm very impressed at the way water beads up and just rolls off the cleaned pan. It's hard to describe, but it's quite amazing. I've don't often deal with surfaces (not just cooking) that are this hydrophobic.

Dec 08, 2010
EatsFats in Cookware

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

I just got mine in the mail. Yes, it's a bit pricey, but I look at it this way.... how much do people pay for a similar Le Creuset? Sure, Le Creuset has been around for nearly 90 years. Iwachu? 400. Plus I wasn't fond of the enamel, we had a "bare" cast iron pan as well and that worked better than the Le Creuset.

My initial impressions:
* It looks smaller than I thought it would be. Maybe it's the curved sides
* The handle is waaay more comfortable than a similar Le Creuset we used to use when we were young
* The pan is actually much lighter than I thought it would be. I'm not sure how that is....
* The cooking surface is a lot rougher than I was expecting. Not as smooth as that ol' standard cast iron my mom uses

Can't wait to use it.

Dec 06, 2010
EatsFats in Cookware

18-inch dishwasher recommendations

I second that. The Miele 18" is not a 2nd class citizen, it is exactly the same as the 24" model, but smaller.
If you check out the Miele's, you will find they have great organization, and I'll bet the 18" fits as much as a normal 24" from most other vendors.

Aug 22, 2009
EatsFats in Cookware

Best cookware set for college apartment

My advice is learn how to cook. If you're moving into a college apartment, all you really need is a large pot (say a dutch oven type) that will serve for soup, pasta, everything else and a good chef's pan. If you know what you're doing, you won't need anything more unless you're constantly entertaining at your pad (in which case, maybe you should think about focusing on your studies...:-).
I prefer aluminum, it's a much better conductor than stainless and heats up evenly and quickly and is more stick-resistant. Hard anodized ones will last a while without looking beat up.
You don't need a big name brand, just make sure it feels good in your hand and it is built solidly. For example, I have some cheapies from Ikea that I've beat around for nearly 15 years and they are still in excellent shape.

Aug 22, 2009
EatsFats in Cookware

Help me choose cookware!

Little late to the game here, but you never know who will Google this later...
I think I will repeat some of the previous points:
- Forget about sets. If you really know how to cook, there's only a few pans/pots you need (unless you're running a restaurant).
- Try each one yourself, what's good for me isn't good for you. It has to have the right feel and balance for you.
Regarding materials:
- Copper is the best heat conductor, but is quite heavy and too soft. Just a thin coating isn't going to work because your heat conductivity will be determined by the worst conductor.
- Aluminum, preferably hard anodized, is a great choice. It is light, aluminum oxide (you may know it my another name, sapphire) is very hard, and it is a very good heat conductor.
- Stainless steel is "stupid". Other than looking great, it is a poor heat conductor (that's why we use it for thermos and cryogenic containers), and it sticks easier than anodized aluminum. You could get stainless-clad aluminum or copper, but what's the point unless you're about appearance?
- Cast iron is not a bad idea, other than being very heavy
(FYI, I have used cast iron, stainless & aluminum).

What you need depends on what/how you cook. In my daily arsenal, I only need:
- 1 wok (regular steel, not stainless)
- 1 large, shallow pan (hard anodized aluminum), ~ 40cm diameter. Also doubles as my paella pan in a pinch
- 1 dutch oven (this one can be stainless) which also serves for soups & pasta
- 1 small sauce pot (could be stainless on this one, but I use aluminum)
- 1 chef's pan (hard anodized aluminum)

I've stayed away from non-stick because of issues of the coating flaking off. Normally with a clean pan, proper cooking methods, the anodized aluminum is almost as good as non-stick (e.g. I can do sunny-side up eggs and just slide it out of the pan).

As for brand? Seriously, go have a look in the back of most restaurants and see what they use. It probably isn't those super-expensive sets most people normally buy.
I've got some Calphalon pans, they've worked great. I think I've got an All-Clad in there, works good too. On the other hand, I also have some really inexpensive pieces from Ikea (both aluminum & stainless) and they've held up just as well, and it's been nearly 15 years...

Aug 22, 2009
EatsFats in Cookware