Our gift-guide marathon continues. Still looking for that special something? Try our full complement of lists. —Ed.
Zojirushi 5-1/2-Cup Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker: Not only does this model have a larger 5-cup capacity, but it also comes with more features than the 3-cup model. White rice can be set to be "regular," "softer," or "harder." Sweet (glutinous) rice and semibrown rice are additional options. This model also happens to be the only Zojirushi rice cooker that's equipped with the "reheating cycle." Available online at cooking.com, $194.95
Bamboo Steamer: Those who have only steamed with stainless steel racks or inserts will appreciate the difference a bamboo steamer makes. Wicking off excess moisture, the wood naturally absorbs the droplets of water that would otherwise drop down into the dish. Available online at cooking.com, $15.16
Zojirushi Micom 3-cup Rice Cooker: Why invest your time making that amazing stir-fry dish only to be disappointed by the quality of your cooked rice? If you've ever been frustrated with the crusty layer of dried rice at the bottom of your rice cooker, or wished rice could be fluffier and tenderer, then this is the solution. Get perfect kernels with the more advanced Zojirushi models, which employ "micom" (Micro Computerized) technology. Temperature and cooking time are controlled by a micro computer chip, accounting for variances in moisture and types of rice. I've been extremely happy with this particular model, which has settings for white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, and porridge. The 3-cup capacity makes enough rice for 5 to 6 people in one sitting, while 1 cup suffices if you're dining alone or with just one other person. Available online at cooking.com, $144.95
Lodge Cast Iron Wok: Like all Lodge products,this cast iron vessel will last a lifetime, getting slicker and smoother with continual use. The price and weight (over ten pounds!) may be hefty, but its heat-retaining capacity is excellent for those times when you need to quickly sear your meat for a stir-fry dish. A flat bottom makes it easier to use on a home kitchen range. Available online at amazon.com, $61.99
Cast Iron Wok: This cast iron wok is much thinner and lighter than the model from Lodge, making it more versatile for everyday use. Like traditional Chinese woks, this wok has a round bottom that's ideal for deep-frying or passing items through the oil. The wok must be seasoned before use, but the patina will become smooth and non-stick over time. Available online at cooking.com, $19.95 depending on size
Misono UX-10 Japanese knife: This Japanese knife is made from Swedish stain-resistant steel. The feel of the knife is well-balanced and comfortable to use; most importantly, the Misono knife retains its edge for a much longer period of time. Chefs praise the knife for staying sharp on the line for several days, needing less honing in between. Available online at korin.com, prices range from $121.55 - $311.95 depending on length
Two-Sided Japanese Sharpening Stone: You'll want a Japanese sharpening stone to go with that new knife. Japanese sharpening stones, also called "water stones," are precise and efficient tools for maintaining the blade's edge. This particular model is two-sided, with a medium grit sharpening surface on one side and a fine grit finishing surface on the other side. The medium grit returns edges to their original shape; the fine grit suffices for everyday honing. Available online at korin.com,$39.90
Japanese Bento Box: There's something about placing your dinner in an enclosed, partitioned container that not only helps cut down on your portions, but also makes you appreciate the particularity of each dish or serving. I use my bento box almost every day that I eat at home regardless of what I'm cooking. If you're serving multiple dishes, the lid of the bento box gives you the option to keep your courses warm as you plate. Available online at buy4asianlife.com,$19.99
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