Many multi-function cooking appliances on the market are designed to reduce food preparation time and make our lives easier, such as pressure cookers, air fryers and slow cookers. However, there are certain categories where these nifty kitchen gadgets often fall short. If you’re a fan of design, the highest quality materials, and precision craftsmanship, these features often aren’t impressive in many kitchen gadgets.
Vermicular is working hard to fill that gap with their Musui-Kamado. If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, Vermicular is a Japanese brand of cast iron cookware that combines technology with precision craftsmanship and clever designs. Recently, the brand launched the lightest cast iron pans you can find. But, its flagship product is the Musui-Kamado.
What is Vermicular Musui-Kamado?
In its basic form, the Musui-Kamado is a cast iron Dutch oven (Musui) with its own induction cooking base (Kamado). The Kamado is designed to simulate the engulfing flames of a traditional Japanese wood-burning stove. The enameled cast iron pot has a hand-machined lid with a precision gasket that fits within 0.01 variance.
How does the vermicular Musui-Kamado work?
The lid’s super tight seal can float to release steam when pressure increases. The spiked design of the inside of the lid also collects moisture inside the jar and drips it off, allowing food to self-water. This, in conjunction with the Kamado’s induction heating, distributes heat evenly throughout the pan, extracting the natural juices from foods, eliminating the need for excess water, broth or seasonings.
What are the characteristics of the vermicular Musui-Kamado?
The Musui-Kamado is designed for seven specific cooking styles: Musui cooking (waterless), steam roasting, precision cooking, searing/sautéing, braising/stewing, baking and rice cooking. However, performing these cooking functions is not as simple as pressing a button, as with some other multi-function cookers.
The Kamado has four cooking time levels. The first is the default temperature of Warm, which is set at 175 degrees. You can set the temperature between 90 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm setting, and the Kamado will maintain that temperature. The next three settings, Ext Low (230 degrees), Low (300 degrees), and Medium (445 degrees), cannot be adjusted and stick to these temperatures.
Needless to say, there is a bit of a learning curve with this device. I highly suggest breaking it with the recipes in the provided vermicular cookbook (all of which I’ve tried so far and are delicious) and following them closely. Next, if you want to freestyle with your own creations, I suggest you follow the baking technique guidelines found on the company’s website.
What I like about Musui-Kamado vermicular
I’m a sucker for beautiful design in any kitchen utensil. If there’s a unique technology involved, even more so. As with its cast iron pans, the beautiful design was the first thing that struck me and it’s my favorite aspect – to be honest. The Musui doubles as a cooking vessel and an attractive centerpiece on your table. Combined with its magnetic trivet, you can immediately switch from cooking to table service.
But don’t get me wrong, the device works just as well. By following the instructions in the vermicular cookbook to the end, I cooked the best rice pot of my life. Hands down, it wows every rice cooker I’ve used in the past.
As a retired chef, my partner told me she had the best meal I have ever cooked at Musui-Kamado. While I had mixed feelings about this compliment, it speaks to the amount of work Vermicular puts into the device itself and the development of its recipes.
There is a very noticeable difference in the richness of taste and texture of food cooked in Musui-Kamado, without resorting to heavy seasonings. Not only do you get a level of flavor you don’t typically get with other cookware, but you also get an overall healthier dish.
What I don’t like about the Musui-Kamado vermicular
While the Musui-Kamado is indeed a beautiful and luxurious device, it has a few things that go against it. The first is the cost. At $670, it’s a considerable investment. Although the most meticulously crafted artisan products come with bonuses like this, most people would expect to be able to cook a meal hands-free at this price.
This brings me to the second problem of Musui-Kamado, which is the learning curve. I found it hard to get out of the vermicular cookbook, even with many years of cooking experience. It can be difficult for the average person to know what setting to cook on and for how long without at least some guidance from the cookbook or website.
Finally, there is one last minor complaint I have about the Musui-Kamado. It’s his inability to cook large amounts of food. While you can comfortably cook for a party of four, you certainly can’t braise an 8-quart batch of carnitas like you can with some slow cookers. While I’m sure the size of the device is necessary due to the technology involved, it would be nice to have the ability to cook more considering the cost of the machine.
Should you buy the vermicular Musui-Kamado?
If you’re like me and appreciate the finer kitchen gadgets and can afford to throw away $670, you shouldn’t let the Musui-Kamado’s learning curve or its size turn you away. Over time, cooking with the appliance becomes easier with a handy grip provided in the Vermicular cookbook. Since its components are so well designed, this machine can be used throughout your life with the proper care. Given that, even if you’re only perfecting four dishes you love and only using them once a week, it’s still a worthwhile investment in my book.
Below are two great recipes that you can find in the Vermicular Cookbook. There are also many more recently added
Japanese Pork Belly Recipe
(Courtesy of Vermicular)
It was the recipe I mentioned above that blew my partner (and me) away. The puree of extremely rich sweet, salty and spicy flavors (I used a few extra chilies) is out of this world. This dish combines the sear/sauté function of Musui-Kamado with braising/stewing.
- 1 ¾ pounds pork belly, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 5 inch (500 g) daikon, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch rounds
- 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 inches fresh ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
- 2 whole dried red chillies
- 6 tablespoons of sake
- 6 tablespoons mirin
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 4 soft-boiled eggs
- Combine sauce mix ingredients and set aside.
- Preheat the pan with [Med] Heat. Once [Grill OK] is displayed, sear the fat side of the pork belly first. Sear the pork for about 1 minute on each side or until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a paper towel and wipe off any excess oil remaining in the pan before returning the meat.
- Add the daikon, leek, ginger and red peppers on top. Pour the sauce mixture, cover and braise on it [ow heat for 120 minutes.
- Turn off heat and rest covered for 10 minutes. Once cooled down, add in soft-boiled eggs, stir and serve.
- If you prefer to remove excess fat, refrigerate overnight so it makes it easier to trim away the solidified fat.
- If using thin daikon, no need to halve lengthwise.
Moroccan Sea Bass with Chermoula Recipe
(Courtesy of Vermicular)
This dish falls under the Musui (waterless) cooking category. Arranging moisture-rich veggies, drizzled in a flavorful Chermola oil cooks the fish perfectly. Be sure to drizzle the fish with the juices at the bottom of the pot.
- 1 pound sea bass fillets (or other white fish), cut into 4 fillets
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 small potatoes, thinly sliced
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- ½ medium carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 stalk celery, sliced
- 4 lemon slices
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Zest from 1 lemon, grated
- Mix ingredients for Chermoula Oil.
- Marinate fish using 1 tablespoon of Chermoula Oil for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
- Arrange sliced onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery in the pot in that order and drizzle the rest of Chermoula Oil on top. Place marinated fish and cherry tomatoes on top. Place lemon slices on top of each fish.
- Cover and steam over [Low] heat for 30 minutes and rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro or parsley.