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Rice Cookers


Kikujiro
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Ed said in the pantry thread that he has never used a rice cooker. Nevertheless, I'm tempted to get one as I find rice a hassle, and think if I had a cooker I might eat it more at home (and consequently wheat less, which I think is a good thing).

However, the range of cookers available in both department stores and Chinatown is overwhelming, and the variance in price (from, I'd say, GBP 20 to GBP 140) incomprehensible to me. Can anyone help me understand the differences, or what's important to look for, or even recommend a reasonably-priced brand?

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Many have fuzzy logic thingees and are designed for keeping and holding rice at temperature for 8 or 12 hours. This is for families that eat rice at random times throughout the day.

I have two 20 cup rice cookers that just cook and keep warm for about an hour. The labels have worn off so I don't remember the brand.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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What is so difficult cooking rice? Wash it, put it in a pot, cover it with water about equal to the depth of the rice, when it comes to a boil add salt and cook briefly with the cover off. Then put cover back on and turn down heat to as low as it will go while maintaining a slight simmer. After awhile you will know when the rice is done. No need for a timer.

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After ruining a couple of (cheap) pans over-cooking rice the old-fashioned way, I won't give up my rice cooker. I've had several models, all at or near the lowest end of the range of models, and they work flawlessly. The Japanese "fuzzy logic" models are the expensive ones, and I don't know that they really do any better job than the cheap Thai ones.

Edit: Get one with a non-stick coating; it makes it easier to remove the stuff that sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Edited by Human Bean (log)
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Nick, of course there's nothing difficult about cooking rice. If I'm making a small quantity of rice (say 8 cups) I'll just turn a pot down after adding the rice from a boil to low and let it cook gently for two hours or so and wind up with a nice crust to peel from the pot to salt and have as a crispy side dish.

But if one is cooking rice for a dozen or more folk, a rice cooker is great. Or if one wants rice to be available all day for all comers, the fuzzy logic guys are good. Or if someone wants to just pop it in the cooker and not worry about it while trying to figure out which end of an oyster is up, then a cooker is a good thing.

It depends on someone's context, I think.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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It depends on someone's context, I think.

Jin, You're right. I generally cook rice only for myself with enough to go as leftover for a day or two.

When Kikujiro started the thread off, I thought we were talking home cooking. But, I am confident that my way of cooking rice can be used for fifty people or more- with practice. Something tells me I'm not the first one to cook rice this way. :smile:

PS - Years ago it became the rage in the macro community to pressure cook rice. I thought I'd give it a try. Tried numerous times and went back to cooking it the same as I had since '66 or so.

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Nick, pressure cookers are the devil's migraine headache. Swampy, horrid food.

I'd used them for a few years about twenty-five years ago. I'd have scars to show but they're all in my mind as I was careful of a bomb in the kitchen and am only emotionally and cognitively impaired rather than physically maimed. But I still can't get the horrid taste out of my mouth. I tried therapy but I kept jumping up from the couch and grabbing herr doktor by the goatee and yelling, "DO YOU HEAR A hiiiiissssiiiIIIINNNG?" We both agreed it was the better course to just not use the pressure cooker. Of course of course.

Coking rice for fifty per your method is easy but requires about five pots (giving each peron only one cup of rice). Otherwise the rice settles, weighs in, and burns at the bottom leaving the top almost raw.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I have a rice cooker that I never use.  Want mine?

Is it that you don't eat plain rice very often? Have you ever tried Thai jasmine rice, or Indian basmati rice? Unlike the boring California or Texas plain rice, the jasmine and basmati actually have a flavor (or scent, at least), and are worth eating. I won't bother with plain California rice; it's Thai for me, with basmati occasionally. And you can mix wild rice with the white, add veg, chicken stock, maybe some fat (oil/butter), and make pilaf right in the rice cooker.

Many rice cookers also come with a steaming rack, though I've never used them. Maybe once.

You can do more with a rice cooker than just cook plain rice, but maybe not a wide variety of things. I'm generally opposed to single-use appliances (I still can't believe that they (used to?) sell a cooker that ONLY cooks hot dogs), but a rice cooker is useful if you eat rice regularly, IMHO.

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I have a rice cooker that I never use.  Want mine?

Is it that you don't eat plain rice very often? Have you ever tried Thai jasmine rice, or Indian basmati rice? Unlike the boring California or Texas plain rice, the jasmine and basmati actually have a flavor (or scent, at least), and are worth eating. I won't bother with plain California rice; it's Thai for me, with basmati occasionally. And you can mix wild rice with the white, add veg, chicken stock, maybe some fat (oil/butter), and make pilaf right in the rice cooker.

Many rice cookers also come with a steaming rack, though I've never used them. Maybe once.

You can do more with a rice cooker than just cook plain rice, but maybe not a wide variety of things. I'm generally opposed to single-use appliances (I still can't believe that they (used to?) sell a cooker that ONLY cooks hot dogs), but a rice cooker is useful if you eat rice regularly, IMHO.

No, I cook lots of rice, I just do it the old fashioned way, with pot and water.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Rice cookers are neat. I've steamed 2 cornish game hens in my steamer tray. Lots of different meats, veggies. Plus, you get a great broth in the bottom.

I made a my very first shrimp stock that way. I steamed my dinner using a tsp of crab boil in the cooking water. Then afterwards tossed in the shells into the cooking water with a splash of chicken stock. An hour later and I had 2 quarts of very good shrimp stock. At the end, I heated back to maximum heat, then quickly poured the stock into a sterile Planters peanut jar with the vaccum screw top. left a 1/2 inch of space and tightened the lid just firmly. The heat did a good job or resealling. I kept the jar in my fridge for about a full week before eating. Tasted great!

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Reiterating what Jin and Nickn already said, if you want to cook rice in small quantities, you can use a pan (the old-fashioned way).

Having destroyed pans by incompetence/inattention, I'd still say use the rice cooker though. The minimum quantity you can reasonably cook in a rice cooker is too large for a single serving (about 2 cups of cooked rice, if you have have one of the smaller rice cookers), but you can refrigerate the excess in the pan. It keeps well for a day or two or three; add a bit of water, set on 'cook' to reheat.

Edited by Human Bean (log)
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Being more of a consumer than a rice cooker, I have a couple of comments to make.

My wife (the rice cooker) usually will put a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan and heat the rice for a short time, rolling all of the grains to lightly coat each. Then she adds the water and goes through the normal steps for making rice.

She only cooks a cup of rice per time, yielding two cups of cooked rice. This is sufficient for two people.

Her rice never sticks in the bottom of the pot.

We use Thai rice and buy it by the sack. Usually at the Chinese New Year time frame, rice is sold cheaper. We buy two 25 kilo sacks which last us about a year. We eat rice a lot. Buying rice in bigger sacks is much, much cheaper.

As a closing point, I see the question asked on many forums "How do you get burnt rice from the rice cooker" and wonder why people do this to themselves.

BlackDuff

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Wonderful advice, Blackduff !! - :raz::laugh:

I think all new rice cooker owners go thru this step. I know I did. Even my instruction booklet assumes this problem. It says to add approx. 1/2 cup more raw rice than needed [assuming it would be the stuck kernels at the bottom.]

I think this mainly happens to those families who have to go away to work.

For us lucker few, who can babysit the cooker, your wife's method sounds perfect. I just discovered the frequent stirring oiling part the last batch I did. I put that new-found knowledge together with my next breakthru - shutting off the machine just as it hits a rolling boil.

I made my best tasting batch, ever last time out. I only needed to put a splash of dark soy, and some Fukimo [sp?] rice seasoning on to eat it straight out of the cooker! Yummy! :wub:

I used the leftovers in a chinese fried rice with some pork luncheon meat. It was divine.

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We can all agree that Asians know their stuff when it comes to rice, right?

Can we also all agree that it's virtually unheard-of to set foot in an Asian household and not see a rice cooker?

If you cook rice often, it's tremendously efficient and convenient. No stove burner is occupied. You set it and forget it. And in my opinion the rice comes out slightly better than when you make it on the stovetop. I've never done extensive side-by-side testing, but the precise heating and sealed environment of the fuzzy logic cookers produce terrific rice. On top of all that, you have the keep-warm capabilities that stovetop methods lack.

If you cook rice rarely, the rice cooker eliminates the need to get good at it.

Some discussion we've had on rice cookers. Sorry, the prices are no longer legible because of a glitch in the database import from the older version of the software. But everything else is still on point:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=3&t=3642

Also, who washes rice?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I eat a lot of rice, and cook it differently depending on the kind of food I'm serving with it. Chinese rice is the simplest:

2 cups long-grain white rice

3 cups water

Rinse the rice well, raking it with your fingers, until the water runs clear. Drain well.

Put rice into a heavy-bottomed pot, or if you have it, a Chinese clay casserole. Add the water. (There should be enough water so that if you put the tip of your thumb on the surface of the rice, the water will come up to the first knuckle.) Without stirring, bring the water to a rolling boil and let it continue to boil for 30 seconds, or until the big bubbles come close to the top of the pot. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low (so that there's a very slow bubbling going on inside the pot) and simmer for 15 minutes, without lifting the cover. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit, still covered, for another 15-20 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.

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Its funny, I had this whole rice discussion with my Chinese/Korean friends yesterday, and while they don't currently own a rice cooker, they want to buy a Zojirushi shortly.

If youre gonna buy a rice cooker, I've been told Zojirushi is the one to get because apparently they have cornered the market on their Fuzzy Logic cooking technology and have a patent that nobody else can use.

Zojirushi Neuro-Fuzzy Rice Cooker on Amazon

B00004S57B.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Also, who washes rice?

I wash rice. Short grain brown in a bowl. Depending on the rice, it takes anywhere from three to six changes of water before the rice is clean and ready to cook. It's probably just a fetish I picked up somewhere along the road.

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I eat a lot of rice, and cook it differently depending on the kind of food I'm serving with it.  Chinese rice is the simplest.

.

This is exactly the method that I use. Actually I keep the light on after covering the pot for a little more than 15 minutes, 20 minutes maximum, and then let it sit for another 10 minutes (or more).

I do find that different kinds of rice and different brands of the same variety of rice may require a little more or less water. I usually determine this empirically, through trial and error with a particular batch of rice.

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We can all agree that Asians know their stuff when it comes to rice, right?

Can we also all agree that it's virtually unheard-of to set foot in an Asian household and not see a rice cooker?

Sure they do, but plenty also swear by the use the first knuckle line on your finger method to determine the correct amount of water to add to the rice. How often does that really work? My Asian friends are pretty equally divided into the rice cooker and no rice cooker camps. The non-rice cooker people are very self-righteous about their nonricecookerness. I love my rice cooker and would give up my standing mixer, food processer, toaster and mandoline before I gave up the rice cooker. My best friend gave it to me when I moved from SF, saying "your curries were great but you cook rice like a whitey". It's a little cheapie Aroma brand that is still going strong 9 years later about 450 lbs of rice later. The partner uses it too, but avoids it when he's making rice for Hainanese chicken rice or nasi lemak because he says it's not real when you do it in the rice cooker.

regards,

trillium

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I think that washing the rice to remove exterior starch before steaming prevents the grains fronm sticking together. Of course rice is easy to cook but I love my little fuzzy. It soaks the grains for a half hour before starting to cook. Meantime I can give all my attention to the stir fries while the fuzzy cooks my rice to perfection and keeps it hot if I get slow with the other dishes.

Ruth Friedman

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The knuckle method is a bit dubious, presumably, given that it can't factor in either varying amounts of rice or the diameter of the pot.

I noticed some posts here recommending that and I couldn't figure it out either. The posts seemed to pay no attention to how much rice was in the pot.

Michael Kane and I started cooking (brown) rice back around '66 when Kushi showed up in Boston and opened Erewhon on Newberry St.

Michael's rice has always been better than mine - or anyone else's that I've eaten. Michael dove right into rice cooking. When he was on the road (bass player) with the Youngbloods back in the early seventies he'd take along a one burner electric hotplate and cook rice in his hotel/motel room. I saw this.

The last time Michael and I were together was in '87 when I made the trip out to Marin County. Having not seen each other in seventeen years (though it was like yesterday) we reverted to our old ways of consuming prodigious amounts of beer, playing a little music as best we could , and eating - in that order.

One morning, Michael served us rice. Just rice. It was (and is) the best rice I've ever had. Cooked in a three or four quart stainless, non-descript pot. I said, "How did you do that!? Michael says, "I used chicken stock." :smile: Well, it wasn't just that. Michael knows how to cook rice.

To get back to the knuckle method. Somewhere early in our budding attempts at rice cooking, someone had shown Michael that the way to cook rice was to make the depth of the water over the rice equal to the depth of the rice in the pot. This works. If you're cooking larger amounts of rice, decrease the amount of water over the rice. Don't get too scientific. Stick your finger in the rice and see how far it comes up your finger. Then add water until it comes that much further up your finger. This is all for brown rice and age and where/how it was grown makes a difference. Knuckles don't count. Everyone's are different.

I'll email Michael this link and maybe he'll make a post. Or maybe, like me, he doesn't do that much rice cooking these days. :sad:

Edited by Nickn (log)
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The last time Michael and I were together was in '87 when I made the trip out to Marin County. Having not seen each other in seventeen years (though it was like yesterday) we reverted to our old ways of consuming prodigious amounts of beer, playing a little music as best we could , and eating - in that order.

One morning, Michael served us rice. Just rice. It was (and is) the best rice I've ever had. Cooked in a three or four quart stainless, non-descript pot. I said, "How did you do that!? Michael says, "I used chicken stock." :smile: Well, it wasn't just that. Michael knows how to cook rice.

Hmm....chicken stock. Now imagine what a homemade stock would do for such cooked rice!! :wink:

It must have been wonderful to get the chance to visit with an ol' friend that many years later. I envy you greatly. Not everyone is granted such a wonderful opportunity. I bet the "good vibes" were flowing during that time of your life. :smile:

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