From peeling pineapples to making rice, things are getting easier for the chefs and cooking enthusiasts. You can now prepare restaurant-style rice with a nice aroma by just adding rice to an “electric pot” and hitting a button.
Yes, with a rice cooker, you can now be the chef you always wanted! And if you want to take your options to another level in the kitchen, go for a multi-functional appliance like an InstaPot which does more than just cook rice.
Now, there are as many ways to cook rice as there are preferences. This implies that there’s probably no right way as long as your rice turns out right. However, if you want to make rice that is not only fluffy but also perfectly separated, then a rice maker is your go-to appliance.
Thank Hephaestus, the god of technology! Well actually, he’s there for the blacksmiths and craftsmen, the technology of yore.
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Why Do You Need a Rice Cooker?
Let’s start with the common question: “Why do I need a rice cooker”. We know – you might be wondering why you need to invest in a rice cooker, yet you can easily use a skillet to prepare your rice and save yourself the cash. But trust us, there are a lot of benefits that will make it worth your while. When you look at instant pot vs crock pot, you will realize that most of these two work pretty much the same as a rice cooker.
And, here’s why:
- Consistency – The results of a rice cooker are consistent. You do not have to ever deal with mushy or sticky rice. At times, preparing rice in a pan is a gamble because there is no guarantee that it will turn outright.
- Ease of cooking – It is a hands-off method, which means that you get to go about your business as the rice cooks. You do not have to keep checking to ensure that your rice does not overcook or burn. Your rice cooker will not only do all that for you but also switch itself off once the rice is ready. After all, it does come with a timer.
- Rice remains warm – The rice remains warm for as long as you need it to be. This is because most, if not all, rice cookers have an option that keeps your rice warm long after it’s done cooking. You get to switch it on or off whenever you like. This not only saves you from having to reheat your rice when you want to eat it, but it also leaves your rice in a state of freshness.
- Convenience – A rice cooker is very convenient when you intend on cooking large amounts of rice. Whether you have visitors or run a restaurant, a rice cooker is the best alternative.
Types of Rice You Can Cook in a Rice Cooker
What type of rice do you intend to make in your rice cooker? A rice cooker cookbook will get you the right answers here. Before you get started, you need to decide which texture (and nutritional value) you are going for and then choose the right type of rice.
For the best outcome, you need to understand the three main types of rice you can prepare with this electric rice cooker:
Long Grain Rice
Long grain rice contains a lot of amylose which is a long and straight starch molecule. Most brown rice, Carolina Gold, basmati rice and jasmine rice are all long grains. When you cook this type of rice, it should be fluffy and not stick together. This type of rice requires a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 ¾ cups of water for white rice; and 1 cup of rice for 2 ¼ cups of water for brown rice.
Short Grain Rice
Short grain rices contain a large amount of amylopectin starch, which contributes to its stickiness once it is cooked. American short-grain brown rice and sushi rice both short grain. The ratio of rice to water for this is 1: 1 ¼ cups for white rice.
Medium Grain Rice
Though fluffy, medium grain rices ares slightly stickier than the long grain rice as it contains equal amounts of both the amylopectin and amylose starch. Arborio, Valencia, and Bomba rice are all medium grain rices, although some consider Arborio to be closer to a short grain. The ratio of rice to water for this is 1: 1 ½ cups for white rice.
How to Use a Rice Cooker
You also need to make a few considerations before you can prepare rice in your cooker to ensure perfect results.
Rinse your rice thoroughly. This helps in getting rid of any excess starch. You should rinse your rice to the point where the water is no longer cloudy but clear. If you fail to do so, the result will be mushy, sticky rice. You don’t want that, do you?
Moreover, rinsing rice serves to clear out any chemicals or pesticides that may be present in the rice.
Note: It is important for you to read the packaging of your rice because some types of rice do not need to be rinsed. This is because it may contain vitamins and minerals that would otherwise be dissolved if you rinsed the rice.
What is the Ratio of Water to Rice in a Rice cooker?
Before we get to how to cook rice in a rice cooker, we need to talk about how much cooking liquid or water you use. If you are used to cooking rice in a pot, you may be tempted to go for the 2:1 ratio that you are familiar with. However, with this method, you use a lot less water.
For most rice cookers, the ratio is usually about 1:1 for cooking plain white rice (we already covered the ratios for other types of rice above). But a word of caution about that cup that comes with your machine. In most cases, it is not equivalent to a full measuring cup. This means that if you use that to measure your rice, and an actual measuring cup for your water, the ratio will be off. Just make sure you use equal size “cups”.
Alternatively, some machines have water lines to go with desired serving sizes when using the manufacturers scooping cup for the rice. Additionally, keep this in mind when you are following recipes. If it calls for a “measured cup”, it may not be the same as the rice cooker’s version of a full cup
Video: Easy Rice Cooker Recipes for Dinner
Chef John Zhang cooks 2 simple and perfect dinners in a rice cooker. | Taste Show
How to Cook Rice in a Rice Cooker – Simple Steps
Now, let’s get to the cooking stage. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have everything you need to make rice in your cooker. Here’s what you will need to make plain rice:
- A rice cooker,
- Measuring cup,
- Salt (optional), and
- Rice paddle for serving.
Once you have these things, you are ready to go.
Typically, all rice cookers come with a manual that has instructions on how to use that specific rice cooker. Take out the manual and read the instructions
Now add the water and the rice in the ratio of that your machine requires, usually 1:1. Optionally, add some salt to taste.
Rice cookers will do all the work for you so once you have done that, close the lid.
Most cookers come with a timer. Therefore, it will heat the rice and water to the right temperature, keep track of the pressure and steam within the rice cooker and once the rice ready, it will automatically turn itself off.
However, for rice cookers without timers, always consult your manual to avoid a disastrous outcome.
When your rice is ready, let it sit for about 10 minutes while still covered. This will ensure that all the steam has been cooked off which will leave your rice fluffier with well-separated grains. Unless your end goal was mushy rice, don’t skip this final step.
Once you have mastered cooking plain rice (it’s not like it’s hard), you can explore other tasty options. For example, you can simply substitute chicken broth for the water and add your favorite spices.
How to Clean a Rice Cooker
Now that your rice is ready, you need to clean the cooker. You do not want to have to deal with an infestation of cockroaches or other insects caused by dirty appliances, do you?
A piece of advice. Clean your cooker as soon as you are done cooking that way you do not have to deal with any dried remnants that have stuck to your rice cooker.
Follow the instructions below to have your cooker looking good as new.
- Once you have served your rice, if there is any remaining, scoop it out and store it in a container. It will be very easy to brush off the remnants since you haven’t left your cooker out to dry.
- If the interior of your rice cooker is detachable, proceed to remove it from the rest of the cooker.
- Using a clean soapy dishcloth or sponge, wipe the detached interior of your cooker. Most cookers have an interior with a non-stick coating. Therefore, do not use anything that can scratch it such as metallic utensils or scouring pads.
- Now rinse off your interior and let it dry. Once it is dry, reattach it to the main cooker and store it in a clean place. It is now ready for the next time you need to prepare rice.
See how easy it is to not only use but clean your cooker?
Now if you do not have yourself a rice cooker already, what are you waiting for? Get with the times and say goodbye to a tedious hands-on cooking process.