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Rice Cookers

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I want to start cooking rice and have heard that a rice cooker makes the process very easy, I prefer Greek rice and basmati/Persian style rice will a rice cooker work ok for me?

 

On the rice episode of Good Eats he goes over cooking rice in a pan but doesn't even mention rice cookers, as if they are inferior?

post #2 of 11

They're not necessary but they can be convenient if you have the storage or eat A LOT of rice. I don't think they do a better job, just automate it.

 

But I've not used any of the expensive fuzzy logic ones either, just an inexpensive Aroma brand.

post #3 of 11

How much easier can a ricecooker be than the utterly simple rice "absorption" cooking method?

Per person (good portion); put 1 coffeecup of rice in a pot. I don't wash nor rinse the rice first. Add 1+1/2 cup of water. Add some salt. Stirr. Ready to start cooking...

Cover the pot and let it covered during the entire cooking and do not stirr while cooking. Bring to a boil on medium fire. Before it starts boiling, reduce the fire to very low. Let cook for 8-10 minutes, take from the fire and let the pot covered and untouched during another 5 minutes. Done.

Let's resume the jobs involved; filling the pot, reduce the fire to very low, take the pot from the fire. That's it!

 

 

You can pimp this method a little by first "frying" some herbs and/or spices in oil(I believe in India this is called a "tarka"), then add rice, fry also, add water or stock and proceed as above.  Not a task for a rice cooker

 

There's also the risotto, where stock is added a bit at a time. Also, no rice cooker task.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by circumnavigate View Post

...and have heard that a rice cooker makes the process very easy... 

post #4 of 11

Actually Alton Brown does an equipment review in one episode. (Sorry its been a while don't remember it. Try season two or three) He also is not a fan of the rice cooker. I don't remember what he said, but I think he recommends the oriental bamboo steamers if you want steamed white rice.

Those rice cookers only shut down when they detect that the rice is cooked. I believe that there is some kind of humidity sensor inside the unit. When it senses a certain level, most rice will be cooked and it shuts down.  It will not save much time cooking or cleaning. Only limits your options in terms of different techniques you could use for creating different styles of rice. CB covers that point above.

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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post #5 of 11

The sensor doesn't sense humidity -- it senses temperature.  It basically shuts off when the temperature gets to much higher than boiling.  The design is absolute genius because it basically shuts off when the water is gone (as long as there is water it can't go above boiling temps).  This means that it will never burn or singe your food.

 

It also means how long it will cook will depend on how much water you put into the outer pot.  Assuming you use the basic one.

 

The main thing about rice cookers is convenience.  That and the fact that you can't really burn the rice.  At worst you put in too much water and the rice comes out mushy, or too little water and the rice comes out with a raw center.

 

Short grained rice such as sushi rice must be soaked before cooking.  Long grain MUST NOT be soaked, or it will come out mushy.

 

The fancy new ones that are several hundred dollars have timers.  The idea is that you preload it and set the timer, and wake up or come home to fresh cooked rice.  The time that the rice sits in the water soaks it so it's not good for long grain rice fans -- it's designed with the Japanese short grained varieties in mind.  I personally prefer long grained in general so I don't go for the expensive new ones.  Besides, the basic rice cookers with an inner pot and an outer pot are highly versatile.  I use the inner pot directly on range top to sautee the ingredients for pilaf and stick it in the rice cooker after adding the chicken stock.  Saves me from having to baby a simmering pot.  It will even keep it warm if I wanted to do that first and handle other dishes in the meanwhile.

 

You can also use the basic ones to steam just about anything you can fit into them.  When you buy it, it will typically come with a rack (mine was aluminum, so now I use a cast iron trivet instead).  Stick what you want to steam in a bowl or plate, put it over the rack, add some water to the outer pot, and hit the switch.  It will be done in twenty minutes.


Edited by Capsaicin - 2/26/11 at 4:00pm
post #6 of 11

I did a review a while back (located here) on an induction rice cooker. I have to say, I have had great results with that tool; the resulting product and ease of use make it worthwhile for home cooking. There are many (!!!) makes and models of rice cookers out there. You may want to experiment a bit.

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #7 of 11

My cheapo one has a timer.

post #8 of 11
Capsaicin-- Thanx for the clarification. I knew that the humidity thing sounded funny. Now, it really seems pretty silly. That design is pretty slick.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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post #9 of 11

Rice cookers are awesome.  It not only will cook the rice but it will hold the rice hot forever.  You come home after work and there's fresh rice in the pot.  Awesome.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post

How much easier can a ricecooker be than the utterly simple rice "absorption" cooking method?

 

 

 


Add rice & water, turn on. Wait. Done.

With mine, I can even set at what time I want the rice to be ready.

 

post #11 of 11

I LOVE my Zojirushi. It's pretty pricy, but I've had it forever, use it daily and I HGHLY recommend them.

Yes, I know that Alton doesn't like them and on many things I agree. But a rice cooker is a necessity in my household. I think he is against the basic types because they are "one trick ponys" and he hates one trick ponys of any sort. I disagree with that perception. Modern cookers can do different types of rice, as well as soups, congee. You can even use it as a vegetable steamer or can use it to steam clams and mussels. (some pinot grigio, basil, garlic and butter a batch of shellfish and maybe some kombu) just with the push of a button. I steamed Guatemalan style tamales in one last month.

 

Some people mentioned convenience, yes, that is a BIG factor. I can cook rice on the stove top and waste a lot of time, or I can push a button and get it perfect.

Some people mentioned that an expensive cooker just has a timer. Many do. Many  don't. Many cheap cookers have timers too. Mostly the reason cookers are expensive is the reliability, consistency and quality of the product. Yes, many of the cheaper brands now have fuzzy logic and they are getting quite good. I had some rice from an inexpensive brand called Aroma the other day and it was quite good. If I just cooked rice once a week, I would consider one. But I cook multiple batches, every day. My Zojirushi has lasted a dozen or so years and is still absolute perfection.
 


Edited by harrisonh - 8/15/14 at 1:02pm
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