A friend informed me of a new mini “food jar” or also known as “Thermal pots” that is very popular in Hong Kong these days. For starters, this jives with me because:
I love thermal pots and their heat saving efficiency
I love anything that can make soups
I love Japanese technology and products
I love to drink the soup that I make in my thermal pots
So, I bought one, or two, or three and gave some away as gifts.
Mini Thermal Pot from Zojirushi
Wait wait.. the good part is that this thing isn’t only for making soups – it can make rice, congee, soups, eggs, sauce, spaghetti, noodles, and basically whatever your good, creative imagination can come up with given the constraints of such a tiny jar.
I actually have no association with this product or the company, but it’s nice to share cool finds when I see them. The price ranges from $280 – $350 HKD depending on where you buy it from and it’s super cute in size, is portable and easy to clean.
Here’s what it looks like opened. Simple two-pieces. No brainer – right?
Mini Thermal pot – two pieces!
It’s made from stainless steel on the inside and uses the space efficiently. Another love of mine – efficiency.
Mini Therm Pot – Stainless Steel Interior
So my first experiment was to make an egg. Apparently, to make a semi-solid egg, it takes about 30 minutes to “bake” in boiling water.
First, rinse the pot in boiling water and let it sit covered for about 5 minutes (this is the trick to get the insides warm first so you don’t lose valuable cooking heat to the pot).
Put a room temperature egg into the pot – another trick. Don’t use eggs directly from the fridge because again, the temperature difference is too significant.
Cover the egg completely with boiling water – for the purpose of this experiment, I just used 98 degree Celsius water from my hot water dispense (too lazy to boil water)
Put on the lid securely and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Oops, for mine, I kind of forgot about it and came back about 45 minutes later and found this… still awesomely yummy with a bit of sea salt.
Thermal pot with an egg
Cooked egg with Mini Thermal Pot
More yummy experiments to come later. I’ve used the thermal pot to keep food warm though, like congee when my daughter was sick and it stayed toasty warm for over 6 hours! Definitely a neat find and will be trying other foods soon! YUM and YEAH for green technology!
Simply described, this tool is a small, metal strainer, slightly cupped, made with thin wires which are woven together into a super-fine mesh. The small strainer is attached a to a long handle for easy maneuvering.
As its name indicates, the oil scooper is used to remove excess oil from your soups. The wire mesh has extremely tiny holes which allow only water and/or soup broth to strain through, leaving the oil, fat, and other small particles behind for easy disposal.
Although some fat is good for you and can add flavour and texture to soups, too much fat (especially animal fat) can make soups unpleasant to drink. Even if you blanch the meat before boiling, it is still possible to have too much undesired oil in your soup after it is finished cooking.
How to Use the Oil Scooper
To remove the excess oil, when your soup is finished cooking, open the lid and let the soup sit briefly. In a few minutes, the excess oil will float to the top where it can be easily scooped out with the oil scooper (or a spoon, although using a spoon is more time consuming).
To remove small particles from your soup, when the soup is on full boil, use the scooper to pick up small particles which may be pushed to the surface of your soup by the boiling water. Some small particles can make your soup less pleasant to drink and may include skin (which has come off the meat or tomato skin which easily falls off cooked, sliced tomatoes), seeds, leaves and other herbs.
Click here to see a video of the oil scooper being used.
Buying an Oil Scooper
This tool can be surprisingly difficult to find. I have purchased it for $2.00 CAD at a local dollar store in Toronto. I have also seen a similar tool sold online for $20 on Amazon.com.
Is it really called an “Oil Scooper”?
I’m sure there is an “official” name for this kitchen tool (perhaps strainer or skimmer), but for me, it is exclusively used as an “oil scooper”. In Cantonese, it is used to “peet yao” 撇油 (scoop oil) –hence its name.
As you can see from the photo, this is a well-used and well-loved utensil and I use it for almost every soup I make… and that’s a lot of soups!
This is a mesh polyester bag that is used for boiling soups
It is usually no bigger than a piece of A4 paper in area
The contents to put inside usually disintegrate in the soup and therefore the bag keeps it together (like fish)
It is an efficient separator of soup and ingredients
You can directly dispose of the unedible ingredients in the bag
Do not reuse the bag
How do I prepare it?
As a precaution, boil the bag in a pot of boiling water prior to usage
Where can I buy this?
You can buy this as individual bags from most Asian supermarkets
In Hong Kong, you can purchase this from wet marts
What is the cost?
The bag costs $1.00 CAD / bag
The substitute for this to boil the soup with the fish directly in the soup and then strain the soup to ensure there are no bones in the soup. This is especially critical if the soup is going to be given to babies and children.
You can strain the soup with various methods such as with a fine-meshed ladle