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The Vermicular Musui-Kamado is a precision-crafted cast iron Dutch oven (Musui) and a multi-use induction unit (Kamado). This machine was designed to mimic the traditional Japanese hearth.
“Musui” translates to a style of Japanese cooking called “waterless cooking.” It’s one of the many methods of cooking you can use with this machine, and it is rooted in the craftsmanship of the cast iron pot. It cooks your ingredients without water on low, trapping the moisture inside and concentrating and intensifying the flavors of your ingredients without any excess water. The kamado is meant to mimic a Japanese wood-burning stove, while the high induction coils are designed to distribute the heat evenly.
I worked with chef Camille Becerra a few years back and she used this machine for the event we were cooking for. Ever since then, I have wanted one of these for myself! I had all these preconceived ideas on how I would put this machine to us. I thought “I can’t wait to proof bread and then directly bake it!” and “I can’t wait ’til I attempt sous vide”. But after two months, I am sad to say I haven’t gotten there yet. The machine led me down a different but equally delicious path.
As an experienced cook, I know instinctively that this is a machine with a learning curve. Do not buy one and think it’s going to be something that you automatically understand. I was intentional about learning how to use the machine and did my best to incorporate it into my daily life.
Vermicular has a recipe library and video instructions for every method of cooking on their site, which I found to be very useful. The first method I used in the Musui-Kamado was to make rice. My machine came with both a Japanese rice measuring cup as well as a measuring cup for water. The video instructions teach you how to use those items with the machine. The rice was deeply flavorful, had a wonderful texture and was just as good as my top of the line Japanese rice cooker.
The Musui-Kamado inspired me to recreate one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes — Cá Kho Tộ, braised and caramelized fish in a claypot. In my mind the kamado would mimic the claypot in the application. I made a batch of Fish Sauce Caramel and combined it with some salmon filets, covered the pot and cooked the mixture on low. In 12 minutes I had the most tender, perfectly cooked, intensely flavorful salmon I have ever eaten in my life. My guests and I were completely blown away by the quality of the cooking. I made my salmon-hater friend into a salmon lover. I will make this recipe in the machine forever and ever. It’s that good!
Of course I had to use the kamado for its signature musui (waterless) cooking style. The video instructions show you how to cut and layer the ingredients you are using. I used this method with many variations of ingredients: some to mimic a Japanese curry and some to mimic the Italian soup, ribollita. Each time I was amazed at the overall flavor and texture of the vegetables. The waterless cooking method coaxes flavors out and intensifies them. This method reminds me of the beauty and precision of Japanese cooking. You haven’t truly tasted vegetables until you try them in the musui method.
Living in a mixed-diet home, my husband and I often cook different versions of the same meal at the same time. I pulled out the wok to prepare mapo tofu for myself which took most of the space on the stovetop. We put the Musui-Kamado right next to me while he prepared his meatless mapo tofu. I love having a backup burner to use while I utilize the stovetop.
If you love Thai mango sticky rice, then I highly recommend you follow the recipe on the Vermicular site. I did and now we eat mango sticky rice all the time. I also made beans, braised oxtails, and made numerous stews. Everything was super easy to prepare and the results were delicious.
My unit also came with a handy stand for the pot lid. I use it every time I use the pot and the stand also works with the lids to my other cast iron Dutch ovens.
Who Should Buy the Musui-Kamado?
With a $670 price point, this is not a machine for every person. If you are going to purchase this for yourself or someone you love, make sure that someone is a person that truly loves to explore cooking, and has a willingness to educate themselves. This isn’t a pot for the food hobbyist, this is a machine for the food-obsessed — that person who is interested not only in ingredients but also the precision cooking and techniques to coax the best flavors out of cooking.
Beyond the food obsessed, I really see this unit being useful to people who have limited kitchen space. It mimics the oven in some ways, it’s a skillet in other ways, it braises, it sears, and it fries. I also think it’s great for people who entertain as the machine can keep food warm when serving a crowd.
As a person who is a bit of a Japanophile, I love Japanese precision technology. This machine is a perfect example of that quality. Even though I have explored the Musui-Kamado in so many way, I still have a lot to learn. I still have to proof bread and transfer it to the oven directly in the kamado. I still want to attempt to sous-vide. Needless to say, my journey with this machine is far from over. I will continue to explore, educate myself, and be intentional with using it.
Studio Food Editor
Amelia is a Filipino-American food and travel writer, food stylist, recipe developer, and video host based in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education and worked in kitchens under Jean-Georges Vongerichten at ABC Kitchen and Nougatine at Jean-Georges. She is a former contributing food editor at Bon Appétit Magazine and current Studio Food Editor at thekitchn.com. Her recipes have been published by Food52, Bon Appetit, Washington Post and more.