Many multifunctional cooking appliances on the market, such as pressure cookers, air fryers and slow cookers are designed to save some time on food preparation and make our life a little bit easier. However, there are a few categories where these nifty kitchen gadgets often fall short. If you are a fan of design, high-quality materials and precision craftsmanship, these properties are often inconspicuous in many kitchen gadgets.
Vermicular is working hard to fill this gap with its Musui Kamado. In case you’re not familiar with the brand, Vermicular is a Japanese cast iron cookware brand that combines technology with precise craftsmanship and ornate 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 fire pot (Musui) with its own induction hotplate (Kamado). The Kamado was designed to simulate the flames of a traditional Japanese wood burning stove. The enameled cast iron casserole has a handcrafted lid with a precision gasket that fits to less than 0.01 error.
How does the Vermicular Musui Kamado work?
The lid’s super-tight seal can float to release steam when pressure builds. The spiked design of the lid interior also collects moisture in the pot and drips it back down, allowing the food to baste itself. Coupled with the Kamado’s induction heating, heat spreads evenly throughout the pot, extracting the food’s natural juices, eliminating the need for excess water, broth or seasoning.
What are the characteristics of Vermicular Musui-Kamado?
The Musui-Kamado is designed for seven specific cooking styles: Musui cooking (waterless), steam frying, precision cooking, sear/sauté, braising/steaming, baking and rice cooking. However, executing these cooking functions isn’t as simple as pressing a button like some other multifunction cookers.
The kamado has four doneness levels. 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 following three settings, Ext Low (230 degrees), Low (300 degrees), and Medium (445 degrees), cannot be adjusted and will remain at those temperatures.
Needless to say, there is a bit of a learning curve with this device. I highly recommend starting with and following the recipes in the included Vermicular cookbook (all I’ve tried so far and are delicious). If you want to freestyle with your own creations afterwards, I suggest following the cooking technique guidelines, which can be found on the company’s website.
What I like about Vermicular Musui-Kamado
I’m a fan of beautiful design in any cookware. When it comes to a unique technology, even more so. As with the cast iron pans, the beautiful design is the first thing that caught my eye and is my favorite aspect – to be honest. The Musui doubles as a cooking vessel and an attractive centerpiece on your table. Combined with its magnetic coaster, you can immediately go from cooking to table service.
But don’t get me wrong, the device works too. Following the instructions in the Vermicular cookbook to the last detail, I cooked the best pot of rice of my life. Hands down, it blows away any rice cooker I’ve used in the past.
As a retired chef, my partner told me that she had the best meal I’ve ever made from the musui-kamado. While I had conflicting feelings at this compliment, it is a testament to how much work Vermicular puts into the device itself and its recipe development.
There is a very noticeable difference in the taste and texture of the food prepared in the musui kamado without relying on strong spices. Not only do you get a level of flavor you don’t typically experience with other cookware, but you get an overall healthier dish.
What I don’t like about the Vermicular Musui-Kamado
While the Musui-Kamado is indeed a beautiful and luxurious device, there are some arguments against it. First is the cost. At $670, it’s a hefty investment. Although most carefully designed, handcrafted products come with such premiums, most people might expect that at this price point they should basically be able to cook a hands-free meal.
This brings me to the second edition of the Musui-Kamado, the Learning Curve. I had trouble leaving the Vermicular cookbook, even with years of cooking experience. It can be difficult for the average person to know what setting to cook on and how long to cook without at least some guidance from the cookbook or website.
Finally, there is one last small criticism I have of the Musui-Kamado. It’s his inability to cook large amounts of food. While you can comfortably cook for a party of four, you definitely can’t stew an 8-liter batch of carnitas like some slow cookers can. While I’m sure the size of the unit is required due to the technology involved, given the cost of the machine it would be nice to have the ability to cook more.
Should You Buy the Vermicular Musui-Kamado?
If, like me, you appreciate the finer culinary gadgets and can afford to shell out $670, don’t let the Musui-Kamado’s learning curve or size deter you. Over time, cooking with the device becomes easier with a few simple steps in the vermicular cookbook. Because its components are so well made, with proper care, this machine can provide a lifetime of plenty of use. With that in mind, even if you’ve only perfected four dishes you love and used them once a week, it’s still a worthwhile investment in my book.
Below are two excellent recipes that you can find in the Vermicular Cookbook. There are also many other recently added recipes on the site.
Japanese pork belly recipe
(Courtesy of Vermicular)
This is the recipe mentioned above that blew my partner (and I) away. The mash of extremely rich sweet, savory, and spicy flavors (I added a few extra chilies) is out of this world. This dish combines the sear/saute function of the musui-kamado with braising/stewing.
- 1 ¾ pound 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 light green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2-inch piece of 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
- Mix the ingredients for the sauce mixture and set aside.
- Preheat the pot with [Med] Warmth. Once [Grill OK] appears, sear the pork belly fat side first. Sear pork for about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the meat to a paper towel and wipe off any excess oil in the pot before returning the meat.
- Add daikon, leeks, ginger and red chillies. Pour in the sauce mixture, cover and stew over 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 let rest covered for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with coriander or parsley.