Thursday, March 28, 2019

a tale of two food processors

I got the brand name of my shitty Korean food processor wrong the last time I wrote about it. I think I called it "HiBrand," but in fact, it's "HiMade." The thing is a piece of garbage; that's what you get when you shell out $130 for an unknown brand of food processor that comes with no special features and is, in fact, a pain in the ass to use. One problem: removal of the blade isn't simple; there's actually a screw involved. You unscrew the screw, then pull the blade out, and the screw represents yet another thing you need to wash. Second annoyance: the processor's bowl is made of metal, with only a sliver of transparent plastic providing the home cook with a grudging view of what's happening while the blade spins. Final annoyance, which I wrote about before: the motor heats up after only three minutes of use. The unpleasant, acrid smell of burning circuitry was almost nauseating, so there's no way I'm regifting this machine for some other, unsuspecting victim. No: to the trash it goes, and let that be a lesson to me—never buy food processors from brand names I don't recognize.

So what I did was search around for a Cuisinart since that's what I used to have in the States. Found a nice one on GMarket and tried to order it... but I received a cancellation notification because someone forgot to update the website to note the machine wasn't in stock. So I went to Amazon and ordered one from the States. With shipping costing about $110, I knew this would be an expensive investment, but also a worthwhile one. The Cuisinart arrived three days ago, and it came with an array of accessories, unlike my Korean abortion. There was the standard blade, plus the slicer blade, and the grater blade, not to mention the dough blade... and with this particular model, there was also a heavy, mean-looking dicer blade, which I'm now itching to try out.

Here's a look at both of my machines, with the ironically named HiMade on the left:

Guess which one is going downstairs to the garbage area. With appliances, furniture, and other unwieldy items, we residents have to pay the B1-level security guard a small trash-disposal fee because special items get taken out by a special truck. For my device, this fee will probably be around $5, but once the low-born HiMade is gone, that'll free up storage space for the Cuisinart. A closer look at the turd:

Next, a look inside. Note the star-shaped screw on top of the blade. Unscrewing it requires turning it clockwise (it's "righty-loosey" instead of "lefty-loosey" for whatever reason), which is also annoying. The screw is long, and it looks as if it might rust easily. Screwing and unscrewing the blade feels like a waste of time, not to mention a bit primitive. Give me a plain ol' snap-tight blade, and I'm good to go. Here's the inside:

A look at the entire Cuisinart set:

The cost, on Amazon, for the above set—not including shipping—was $170. Just a few dollars more than what I'd paid for the HiMade machine, and I got a complete set of accessories along with the machine itself. Had it not been for shipping costs, the Cuisinart would easily have been a much more economical purchase. Given the Cuisinart's quality, though, I still think I've done well by getting this machine. I keep wondering what moved me to buy an unknown Korean brand; God knows I've had bad luck with doing that in the past. This isn't to say that all Korean products are shite: on the contrary, well-known Korean brands are usually associated with great products, like my Samsung cell phone, which I've owned since 2013, and which still works almost perfectly. But going out on a limb and buying something from a no-name company is probably a bad idea. I should've listened to the angel on my shoulder.

Below: my Cuisinart's user manual and a scraper spatula for dealing with flung food. Inside the plastic container is the dicer blade I referred to earlier (it's pictured on the manual):

A closeup of the main Cuisinart, with a mixing bowl that contains a mini-bowl within it, plus an adjustable-width feeder that includes modules you can fill with oil. Pour the oil in, and the tiny hole at the bottom allows the oil to trickle out at a slow rate, which gives you slow, steady mixing. Here's that closeup:

Finally, a shot of the accessories that come with the machine, plus the container into which they can be organized. I used to have almost exactly this machine back home, and I can't wait to try this one out. Bye bye, HiMade and your smoking innards! Fie! Begone!

ADDENDUM: the only hitch, with the Cuisinart, is that it's American, so it's got a 110-volt plug—the wrong shape for my European-style 220-volt plugs here in Seoul. Not to worry: I have a "down" transformer that converts 220 to 110 and also has US-style sockets on its face. So we're good... as long as I'm okay with dragging the processor over to my computer desk. Yeah, I might end up buying a second transformer to put in the kitchenette.


John Mac said...

Congrats on your new baby! She's a beauty!

Power here is 220 but they use American style plugs. I always make sure my appliances are rated for both before plugging them in. Most are, but not my Crockpot. I did have the foresight to bring a 220 transformer with me though. If your Cusinart is rated 110/220 all you need is a plug adapter...

Charles said...

What exactly is a "dough blade"?

Kevin Kim said...


I've never used one before, but I'm going to assume that a dough blade is the super-fast cousin of the dough hook that's found with stand mixers. I have no idea how it works, and if you're thinking that a rapidly whirling plastic blade (the dough blade is shaped like the regular metal S-blade, but it's made of blunt plastic) might ruin whatever dough you're working on, I'm right there with you. A dough hook kneads and massages; a dough blade probably can't do much more than slash violently.

I'll read up on this and/or watch some videos.

Charles said...

Yeah, that's precisely what I was thinking. I'll be interested to hear what you dig up on the subject.

Kevin Kim said...


Here's a link to an article about kneading dough in a food processor. I had to chuckle when I saw the article recommended not using the dough blade and sticking with the regular sharp metal blade. You can read for yourself why the article recommends this. As to whether the article will convince you that a food processor can in fact knead legitimate dough, well... I'll step back and let your intuition lead you to your own conclusions. I'm curious enough to try the method at least once, just to see what happens. After all, food processors are convincingly good at starting the process of making pie dough, so it's not as though they can never be used in dough-related prep.

Kevin Kim said...


I'll check my machine over and see whether it's got a 110/220 internal adapter. Thanks for the tip.

Charles said...

OK, so I'm trying to approach that article you linked in a calm and rational fashion--because my instinct is to cross myself, throw a vial of holy water on it, and run away as fast as I can.

After a calmer look at it, though, what I am noticing is that the article says nothing about actually kneading the dough in the processor. Yes, it does say "knead briefly," but then it talks about the dough "coming together" and forming "a cohesive ball." That's not kneading--that's just the initial forming of the dough. Heck, it doesn't take 8 to 10 minutes in a stand mixer for the dough to come together, either. Generally it will come together in just a few minutes, or not that much longer than the article claims it takes in a food processor.

So what I'm wondering is this: Are they saying you can use the processor to form the dough and then knead it by hand? Because, yeah, I guess you could do that, although I'm not sure why you would want to go through the trouble if you're just going to finish the process by hand anyway. If that's not what they're saying, though, then I am confused. There are two paths you could take after the dough forms--assume that the dough is done because it has come together, or continue to "knead" it with sharp blade for a sufficient amount of time--and neither of them will lead to a dough with a properly developed gluten structure. I mean, there's a reason that stand mixers don't have sharp blades and don't spin at thousands of rpm.

(Alternatively, they could also have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, which strikes me as very weird given that this is a cooking magazine site. I honestly am not sure what to make of this.)

That being said, as you mentioned, food processors are actually great for pie crust, or at least for the initial steps of the process (cutting up the butter and combining it with the flour). I've never actually tried to do the full process in a food processor, though. Generally I've just fully chopped and combined the butter and flour, etc., and then taken that mixture out, added water, and formed the dough by hand. The only reason this is viable is because cutting up and combining the butter by hand is an incredible pain. I mean that literally--my hands usually cramp up after a while working with a bench scraper on the butter and flour (although I think if I had a bench scraper with a proper grip/handle, it wouldn't be nearly as bad).

Kevin Kim said...

"Are they saying you can use the processor to form the dough and then knead it by hand?"

I don't know. Maybe. That's normally what I see on cooking shows when people are making pie crust.

Or maybe they're really implying that something like kneading is occurring inside the food processor since the end result is a ball of dough once the whole mess coalesces. At some point, I'm going to see whether it's really possible to make bread this way. Call it morbid curiosity.