THE ELECTRIC KITCHEN
Induction appliances offer a cool way to cook
INDUCTION cooking has been used in Europe by professionals and homeowners for decades and is recently gaining popularity in the United States. An induction-cooker element (like the burner on a gas stove) is a powerful, high-frequency electromagnet, controlled by sophisticated electronics.
When a pot or pan made of magnetic material (such as a cast-iron or stainless steel) is placed on the element, the magnetic field transfers energy into the pan to create heat. The pan, not the cooktop, is the actual heat source. "So what," you say? These are the real benefits:
Instant heat adjustment: Serious cooks and chefs like cooking with gas because the energy flow adjusts instantly. With electric cooking, it takes time for the heating element to heat up or cool down. With induction, heating adjustment is as instantaneous and as exact as gas.
Increased safety: There are no flames or hot surface elements that can burn. Even after boiling a pot of water, the surface of an induction cooktop is just warm -- and within a minute or two, cools to room temperature.
Energy savings: Induction is 84 percent energy efficient, compared with 50 percent for conventional electric heating and less than 40 percent for gas. Because energy transfers directly into the pan, less is wasted. With other heating methods, the excess heat (lost energy) makes for a hotter kitchen.
Easy to clean: An induction cooktop looks like a smooth ceramic glass electric cooktop. The electromagnet is sealed beneath a glass-ceramic sheet. And because the cooktop doesn't get hot, there's never a burned-on mess to clean up.
Affordability: Until recently, induction cooktops were expensive and elusive, but now they're available at most appliance stores -- including Kanetake's, OK TV & Appliance, Sears, Servco and all Sub-Zero/Wolf and Viking dealers. Though slightly more expensive than basic electric cooktops, they are comparable priced to fancier electric or gas appliances. Affordable portable induction units are sold at Marukai Wholesale Mart, perfect for table-top shabu-shabu or bata-yaki, or just to provide an extra cooking element.
The one drawback to induction cooking is that nonferrous cookware, such as copper, aluminum and glass, cannot be used. As a rule, if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the cookware, it will work on an induction cooktop. Enamel or porcelain on steel, magnetic stainless steels and cast iron work best. Cookware with aluminum or copper sandwiched between stainless steel layers might work but tends to be slower to heat.
Perhaps the best way to learn about induction cooking is to try it. The Shabu-Shabu House on Kapiolani Boulevard uses portable induction units at each table. Or read up on it at www.theinductionsite.com.
If you do take the plunge, here is a recipe that will work well:
1 medium head cabbage or Chinese cabbage
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1 bunch green onions, blanched
2 blocks (20 ounces each) tofu
1-1/2 pounds sirloin steak, thinly sliced
4 carrots, sliced and blanched
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
2 4-inch pieces dashi konbu (Japanese dried seaweed for soup stock)
1/2 teaspoon salt
» Goma Joyu Dipping Sauce:
3 tablespoons dashi (Japanese soup stock)
3 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup white sesame seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons sugar
To make dipping sauce: Put ingredients in blender. Cover and blend at high speed 15 seconds. Makes 3/4 cup.
Remove cabbage leaves from core. Add leaves and 1 tablespoon salt to water; boil 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Stack 4 leaves and roll together, then slice into 1-inch sections. Tie each section with one green onion leaf. Repeat until all cabbage leaves are used.
Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Arrange cabbage rolls, tofu, steak slices, carrots and mushrooms on serving platter.
Put broth, dashi konbu and the 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shabu shabu pot or electric skillet and bring to boil; lower heat to simmer.
Let guests select food from platter and swish it in broth until cooked. Serve with dipping sauce. Serve broth as a final course. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 500 calories, 23 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,200 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 55 g protein
Approximate nutrient analysis per 2 tablespoons dipping sauce: 90 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 3 g protein
Hawaiian Electric Co. presents this weekly collection of recipes as a public service. Many are drawn from HECO's database of recipes, accessible online at www.heco.com.