It took brothers Kuni and Tomo Hijikata three years and 10,000 tries to make a cast-iron pot they were happy with. The result is a Dutch oven that created a years-long waitlists.
Like most enameled Dutch ovens, you can do almost anything with Vermicular’s Musui pot — roast, stew, sear, sauté, braise and so on. It’s a graphite cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, an optional induction base (called Kamado) and nubs on the inside of the lid that drip evaporated water back on whatever you’re cooking. Its specialty, though, is waterless cooking — or cooking without adding water, broth or other liquids.
The upshot: because the lid lets out so little steam and the nubs act as analog self-basting tools, the flavors of what you’re cooking are concentrated and their inherent moisture is kept inside the pot. In practice, this means you can cut up enough veggies to fill half the pot, turn the burner on low, add a little oil and in an hour or so it’ll look more like a veggie stew than a pot full of veggies. The lid is also cut on the inside such that if steam builds up too fast it will “float” to relieve pressure (if you keep the heat on low it won’t need to do this).
The pot’s sidekick is the Kamado — an electric induction cooker designed especially for the Musui to sit in. Because cast-iron cookware tends to heat unevenly, Kamado generates even heat from the base and the sides of the pot. This aims to eliminate hot spots and uneven cooking, making it ideal for anything more than a simple sear or sauté (it’s incredible at preparing rice).
After five years of Japan-exclusive availability, Vermicular is coming stateside. The pot, which comes in matte black, charcoal and sea salt colorways — pre-orders for $300 (the kamado base is another $370).