LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ARE YOU READY?

ELECTRIC LUNCH BOX REVIEW AND TEST FOR TRAVELING COOKER

I bought one in grey. Pink is not my colour.

I bought this electric lunchbox, also a mini steamer, also a portable cooker a couple of years ago. I have probably only used it once. I know, I am useless. I have been doing so much big time cooking that I have neglected this electric lunchbox (as what it is marketed as). I am planning to do a whole lot of traveling so I am thinking when else to put this into good use than now. I better start practicing at home than when I am on the road. I am going to be traveling in Southeast Asia. Food is cheap but there are also some other destinations outside that are expensive. I am still contemplating Europe, but Japan is definitely on the list. Or Korea. I have heard that food is not really super cheap there.

It comes with a deep steaming dish, a shallow one which can sit on top of the deep dish. You can also use the egg tray to steam eggs to your liking. There is a lid if you need to store food. Cord of course. Booklet does not say much.



I just cannot find any good enough reviews to tell me how it works.



Anyway, I am making soup today. It really doesn't matter what kind of soup I am making. I just want to try to see if I can actually make a soup that takes 30-60 minutes on the stove to make. Just out of interest, I am listing the ingredients here. I am using a gourd that needs time to soften.

This is what it looks like with the shallow steaming dish on top of the deep dish. This example shows you rice being cooked in the deep dish and a meat dish being steamed on top.




INGREDIENTS : 
  • 1 Chayote. I have never cooked with this although I have had it before. The Chinese supermarket calls it 'sweet gourd'.
  • 1 Red onion
  • 2 Big cloves of garlic
  • Goji berries
  • 1 Pork stock cube
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • Dash of white pepper
  • Dash of ginger powder

It is a bit too much ingredients but I am not on the road now. This is good for an experiment. I will need to limit the ingredients if I want to use this cooker for real on my travels.




OBSERVATIONS :
  • The power goes on and off. I don't remember this but the last time I used it was too long ago. I suppose it is trying to regulate the temperature. It does turn itself off when the water is all steamed up in the steaming tray, not in your food.
  • I want the soup to be cooked for a long time. So it doesn't matter how much water I put in the steaming tray. I will probably see what time it stops and then top up some more water. But I guess you really need to figure out the quantity for cooking eggs and rice. There has to be a guide somewhere. I don't think I have it.
  • I filled the water to about 1 cm below the brim of the steam tray. It went for 3 hours. WOW! That can cook a good herbal soup or slow braise. How is this possible for a little thing like this?
  • It is important to use drinking water to steam your food. Your food gets a little wetter, more gravy if you may, because not all the steam escapes. If you want your food to be 'dry', you should better cover it or use a microwave grade cling wrap over the steaming dish.
  • I would cover a dish of rice with some foil or cling film to cook. The water does not get out easily so it does make your rice wetter than if with a rice cooker. Cooking rice takes about 20-25 minutes depending on how 'wet' you like your rice to be.

WHAT I LIKE : 
  • Size. It is about 15cmsq. Pretty small but it still takes up space in a backpack. But I guess if it means eating well and saving money, it is worth it. I think the volume makes a good size dish for one or two small eaters, depending what you are cooking.
  • It comes with egg tray and secondary steamer tray, and a lid in case you have leftovers. The secondary steamer dish allows you to cook some meats or rice on top of what you are making in the deep dish. It makes a wholesome meal.
  • Portability. Come on, need I say more. I bought a mini rice cooker thinking I would make use of that. But that is more difficult to use and control. I have tried it and the heat shut down when it is rice timing cooked, then it goes to keep warm. What if I want to continue cooking? It is kind of impossible.
  • Versatility. You don't need to use the insides that come with it. It is a steamer. Just use any other ceramics or stainless steels that can withstand the heat. I am thinking some of those 'Lock and Lock' containers since they are so good being airtight. Perhaps I should not be cooking with plastic. I am sure it is ok for quick steaming. But another plus is this. Even if the original insides are worn out, you can use other replacements. You certainly cannot do it with the mini rice cooker.
  • It takes so little water to steam cook. Of course, it still needs electricity.
  • Long cooking time. So far it is 3 hours with the amount of water I put in. See above. I stopped at 3 hours ok. I needed my dinner. I am sure it would go for another hour.
  • I am so impressed by the time of steaming. I mean one deep dish is a lot of everything be it potatoes, meat, beans and what not. So, this is cheap cuts for an awesome dish in this little thing.
  • One pot meal, pretty good. It makes you really think about what to put in.

WHAT I DISLIKE : 
  • Steaming only. I guess it is ok. Healthy, why not? Not like a portable rice cooker can do better. I can cook rice, steam anything, heat up anything. A rice cooker is not so versatile.
  • It is smaller than a mini rice cooker.
  • You need to experiment and figure out cooking times and water volume.
  • You cannot see the food cooking. Hence, there is always this need to keep opening it. But I do not think you can really over steam food. You would be hungry smelling your cuisine.
  • Nothing more. I am struggling to find something to say.

INGREDIENTS GOOD FOR PORTABLE TRAVEL COOKING : 
  • Dry mains. Rice, oats, quinoa. I thought of pasta but it is rather bulky.
  • Dried beans. Just remember to soak some of the variants before cooking, preferably overnight.
  • Stock cubes. Flavours any rice or soups. Life savours.
  • Dried seafood like shrimps. They really add to the taste if you don't have anything. Good source of protein too.
  • Japanese rice toppings. This is all dehydrated and they taste so good. Buy them from a Daiso if you have it in your city, they are cheap and cheerful.
  • Dried veg for soups and savoury porridge
  • Salt for sure
  • Pepper and some other condiments.
  • ***This is gold. I tried cooking with Chinese waxed/cured sausages and they are great. They contain fats so you don't need oil, salt so you need little, umami so you don't need stock cubes or meat, wine, and sesame oil. That is awesome with rice or oats porridge or soup.
  • I think a lot of other things can be bought when you are in the country itself. It should be easy to buy fresh produce and sauces.

PRODUCT SPECS : 
  1. Capacity: 1.2L
  2. Liner Material: Stainless Steel
  3. Power: 200W
  4. Function: cook rice, porridge, noodle, soup and so on
  5. High quality nontoxic plastic shell
  6. Small and exquisite design
  7. No-stick inner pot, easy for clean
  8. The inner pot and shell is integral
  9. Products size : 150 mm * 160 mm * 148mm 
I ate a lot of the soup. Forgot to take pix but here it is.


Soaking some speckled butter beans (from Cameron Highlands) since there is a cover. Saves washing and re-soaking and cooking in.

The butter beans took forever to cook. I like them real soft. I did soak them over night too. So, I guess big beans are a bad idea. Perhaps mung beans or similar size beans are better for steaming.

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