There are a few of us at Remodelista who never took to the Instapot. Ease and cooking potential: great. Non-stick coated surface and clunky profile: Less great. (Alexa did give it a try but donated hers to a swap shop after a month.) So when I dropped in on the New York launch party for the Vermicular Musui-Kamado, an uncommonly good-looking induction-powered, cast-iron multi-cooker from Japan, I signed up to give it a try.

More on the Vermicular: Developed by brothers Kuni and Tomo Hijikata—the heirs to the Aichi Dobby foundry founded by their grandfather in 1836—the 3.9-quart Vermicular Musui pot took three years to develop and capitalizes on the company’s cast iron mastery. The secret to its success? The precision seal, which allows cooks to sear, steam-roast, braise, and even use sous-vide techniques. When it was first introduced in Japan, it was an instant hit; the company soon had a six-month waiting list.

More recently, the company introduced the Kamado induction heating base, with precision temperature control. Both the Vermicular Musui pot and the Kamado unit are available in the US, for the not insignificant price of $670) via the company’s own website and also via the b8ta site. (A word to the wise: The company notes that “Amazon in not an official retailer for the US market. What you’re seeing on Amazon are all Japanese models (100 V) sold by third-party retailers.”)

Over the past few months I’ve been experimenting with the Vermicular; my husband Josh and I have made TK, Tk, and tk, not to mention multiple batches of perfectly cooked rice. I’ve become an evangelizer. There are three major pluses to Vermicular cooking: the ease of a one-pot meal; the steady, easily regulated temperature, which makes you seem like a better cook than your are; and the clever accessories (particularly the wooden trivet and the organic cotton oven mitts).

Photography by Remodelista.

A happy accident: The Vermicular (plus all its attendant parts) fits neatly into a deep drawer in my kitchen. The unit comes in a choice of Sea Salt, Matte Black, or Charcoal.
Above: A happy accident: The Vermicular (plus all its attendant parts) fits neatly into a deep drawer in my kitchen. The unit comes in a choice of Sea Salt, Matte Black, or Charcoal.
Included in the setup: the Vermicular consists of the Musui, a precision-machined enameled cast iron pot with a lid that&#8
Above: Included in the setup: the Vermicular consists of the Musui, a precision-machined enameled cast iron pot with a lid that’s hand-machined “until it fits at a .01 mm accuracy,” according to the company. “This accuracy empowers ‘waterless’ cooking—from which the Musui takes its name.” Meanwhile, the Kamado induction unit offers precision temperature control and a sleek profile.
The ingredients for our modified version of the Vermicular cookbook&#8
Above: The ingredients for our modified version of the Vermicular cookbook’s Steam Salmon Rice. We added a pinch of Himalayan rock salt and at the very end, fresh okra.

Here’s a simple recipe for salmon and rice adapted from the Vermicular cookbook, which features recipes suited to the device

Steamed Salmon Rice

Cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 rice cups (540 ml) plain white rice, rinsed
  • 520 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 teaspoon usukuchi (light color) soy sauce
  • 2 (7 ounce total) salmon filets, skin on
  • 120g cod roe, divided into 5 to 6 pieces
  • 10 g shredded kombu
  • (Additional ingredients = 330 g total)
  • 100 g ikura (salmon roe)
Rinsing the rice before cooking it is key. Measure out 3 cups (540 ml) of plain white rice and rinse using a mesh strainer before adding to the pot; then add the 5ml of water.
Above: Rinsing the rice before cooking it is key. Measure out 3 cups (540 ml) of plain white rice and rinse using a mesh strainer before adding to the pot; then add the 520ml of water.
The final step: Place the salmon fillets on top of the uncooked rice, then add
Above: The final step: Place the salmon fillets on top of the uncooked rice, then add 2 tablespoons sake and 1 teaspoon soy sauce to the pot.
Adjust settings on the Vermicular, then set it and forget it until cooking is finished (about 60 minutes later).
Above: Adjust settings on the Vermicular, then set it and forget it until cooking is finished (about 60 minutes later).
We added the okra in the final stages of cooking for a softly steamed but not overdone effect.
Above: We added the okra in the final stages of cooking for a softly steamed but not overdone effect.
The table set for lunch. The Classic Dinner Plates in gloss white are by Chico, CA-based ceramicist Alex Marshall.
Above: The table set for lunch. The Classic Dinner Plates in gloss white are by Chico, CA-based ceramicist Alex Marshall.
The Vermicular enameled cast iron pot can go straight to the table using the wood Magnetic Trivet, which attaches via magnet to the base of the pot, creating an instant (and attractive) heat barrier.
Above: The Vermicular enameled cast iron pot can go straight to the table using the wood Magnetic Trivet, which attaches via magnet to the base of the pot, creating an instant (and attractive) heat barrier.
The joy of one-pot cooking: a full lunch (starch, vegetable, and protein included) easily cooked and served in one go.
Above: The joy of one-pot cooking: a full lunch (starch, vegetable, and protein included) easily cooked and served in one go.

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