Rice cooker and warmer Zojirushi Umami NL-GAC10 Review: Slow cooking restrictions shake this expensive machine
When I first hearing about the new Zojirushi machine that not only cooks rice but also has some slow cooking features, I was intrigued. Then he showed up at my house and I was quickly thrown behind the noose. While the bowl was large enough to make a good amount of rice, the “slow cook for maximum filling” line was halfway from the tank, which means you can use the machine to cook only a meager liter of slow-cooked food. Realizing my mistake, I sent the machine back for the larger of the two versions, from which I quickly learned that it could be used to make rice for 10 people, but to cook chili on a slow plate for about three.
Anyone else confused by this ratio?
Zojirushi is a brand of love in our home. My wife Elizabeth and I have one of the company’s rice plates — R2-D2 — adjacent to NS-LAC05. This is a real miracle that allows you to make three standard 180-milliliter cups of rice at a time. Our gift was a wedding from eight years ago, and on our countertop he made delicious rice and warmed it for a few days from the time we received it. While some people prefer to cook rice on the stove, I like the quality and convenience of the special plate, as well as its ability to cook rice for dinner and then cook a warm spoon and wait for lunch the next day. This is almost certainly the most commonly used appliance in our kitchen.
Not long ago I tested a high-end Zojirushi induction rice cooker, an expensive but impressive machine that made me a little jealous that I didn’t own it. But until our little LAC-05 pushes the bucket, we’ll be fine.
About two years ago I also looked at a Zojirushi “multicooker” —a capacitive, slow-acting six-liter stove that can be operated to the extent and you can even fry meat. Slow cooking is what it is made for, but you can also make rice and yogurt from it and even steam it. It’s nothing more than a typical slow cooker and functions better than most, especially for freaks.
Zojirushi’s press materials promised that the new Umami has married some of the best features of these two machines: a rice cooker that can cook slowly. Although I was sure that everything would be fine with rice, the idea that you could cook a huge pot of rice, but cook only 1.8 liters (two quarts) of food, made no sense.
To borrow a few lines from Hugh Acheson’s wonderful cookbook, Chef and slow cooker,, “Some slow cookers are large, up to seven to eight liters, and some are as small as two quarts. I recommend large enough, four quarts or more.” We are really small.
Personally, I would recommend at least six liters, as cooking by volume is part of the charm of slow cooking. Not only can you put a pork shoulder in a six-liter model early in the day and get delicious tacos for dinner, but you can also cook chili for friends with low effort and put leftover yogurt in the freezer when they go home.
Plus, almost any recipe that you put in a six-liter pot will do.
After the larger Umami arrived at the test kitchen, I opened the Eat Your Books recipe index, found 17 fantastic slow-cooking recipes in the cookbooks I own, and pulled them off my shelves. For no reason other than that it sounded great that evening, I started with a recipe for American Test Cuisine for Farm Chicken and Dried Corn. Once in the pan, the ingredients crossed the line of “slow preparation for maximum filling” to a considerable amount, but back with the pot of raw chicken there was no way to go back, so I pressed the “Start” button and squeezed my fingers.
Then I took these 14 cookbooks and put them on the shelf again because I realized I would never use such a small slow cooker that made me make reduced batches of all my favorite recipes.