This Japanese Multi-Cooker Is Sean Brock’s Favorite New Tool. Should It Be Yours?
We spent a week testing the Vermicular pot, the beautiful Japanese kitchen device that’s out to replace your pressure cooker, slow cooker, and maybe even your stove.
A hot new multi-cooker from Japan—the Vermicular—is out to challenge nearly every appliance in your kitchen, especially your Instant Pot, slow cooker, Dutch oven, and rice cooker. But is it worth the $670 price tag? After weeks of testing more than 10 recipes, here’s everything you need to know before you buy.
The Vermicular pot is a two-piece multicooking system. It includes an enameled cast iron pot (called a Musui) that sits inside the electric Kamado base, which provides gentle heat on the bottom and sides of the pot through induction coils. The result is essentially a Dutch oven that is heated super evenly, with the ability to specify heat level down to the degree.
The pot itself is a beautiful product (and can be purchased separately). Triple-coated with enamel, it’s available in three neutral colors and makes an elegant serving vessel. The base features a touch-sensitive digital face that goes completely blank when inactive. For someone with more counter space than me, it wouldn’t seem out of place left on a counter top or tucked into open shelving.
Unlike other Dutch ovens, the Musui pot is designed with a “floating lid.” The hand-filed, super-smooth edges are seasoned with neutral oil, and rest together to create an airtight seal. A divet in one area of the lid’s edge makes it just light enough to allow steam to escape, preventing the pot from boiling over. And while some multicookers don’t have the best reputation for even cooking, the Kamado base wraps the Musui pot in gentle and evenly distributed heat, which allows you to cook food with little liquid without any scorching.
Test Drive: Preparing Pot-au-feu
During our first Vermicular Pot test, we thought the included cookbook had a typo when the recipe for pot-au-feu (a traditional French stew) didn’t call for water or stock. As directed, we layered onions, sausage, bacon, cabbage, potatoes tightly into the pot, then skeptically left it to cook over low heat for 50 minutes. When we returned, the gentle heat had coaxed the water out of the vegetables, creating a richly flavored, vegetable-forward broth that we would have been delighted to serve at a dinner party.
The pot transfers well to American cooking. Famed Southern chef Sean Brock says his Vermicular pot has been great for home cooking. “It’s the only device that’s ever used steam-roasting … Nothing else can do that,” Brock said. “It creates a moist cooking environment without adding additional liquids. It uses the natural liquids available in whatever it is you are cooking. It traps the liquid and distills it down.” The chef says he’s enjoyed using the pot for cooking meat.
“I’ve been steam roasting meats like chicken thighs, lamb shoulders, and pork butts,” Brock explained. “The very first experiment with chicken was my favorite because it was so shocking how the distillation process intensified the natural flavor of the chicken.”
Less water, in general, means your food is more concentrated, and we found this was true of all the waterless and steam-roasted recipes we tested. Steam-roasted fish came out perfectly cooked, without any of the mess of poaching. Japanese sweet potatoes, which can become quite dry in the oven, turned into a tender, creamy delight. This function gives vegetables and other ingredients both the moisture of steaming and the caramelization of roasting without the addition of any oil or water.
Vermicular Pot vs. Your Rice Cooker
In Japan, the Vermicular is mostly marketed as a rice pot, as it makes rice beautifully. We found that every type of rice we made came out perfect. Plus, the pot allows you to specify how you want to cook your rice: there’s a porridge setting as well as a scorch setting, and they encourage you to add a bit of water if you like your rice a little softer. It does not, unfortunately, have a keep-warm setting, which most rice cookers offer.
Vermicular Pot vs. Your Stovetop Cooking
Thanks to its induction-coil base, the Vermicular pot is a no-stove-required system. The degree-specific settings only go to 200°F, after which you’re able to choose from extra-low to high heat. To make a Bolognese sauce, we used these settings and the result was comparable to stovetop cooking. The gentle and even heat resulted in less scorching than my gas stove, but otherwise, it was just like cooking in any other Dutch oven.
No Knead Bread: Vermicular Pot vs. Your Dutch Oven
The Musui pot is oven-safe, and the cookbook featured a simple recipe for homemade bread, which uses the precision cooking settings to proof the loaf at 95°F before it is finished in a hot oven. We found no real difference between the Vermicular Pot and other proofing methods, and the loaf itself didn’t come out as crisp-crusted as loaves we’ve made in Dutch ovens.
So, is the Vermicular Pot worth the price tag? At $670, it’s so high that it is impossible to not discuss. To put it in perspective, you could buy an Instant Pot ($99), a Zojirushi rice cooker ($164) and a 5 ½ quart Le Creuset Dutch oven ($349) and still save $48 for ingredients. But what you’d ben missing is a do-it-all, space-efficient workhorse of an appliance that looks beautiful on your counter.
Brock, for one, thinks it’s worth it. “I think it’s great for home cooks and a great investment because it’s built from the best materials and will last generations,” he told us. “It is not a cheaply made multi-cooker that will break in a year. It’s a product that can become an heirloom passed down to the next generation. You won’t need to buy another one ever again.”
So is it worth the price? Up to you.
Get it at vermicular.us for $670