How to Use a Rice Cooker

use-rice-cookerThe first commercial electric rice cooker was made available in Japan in 1945 by Mitsubishi and to this day it is still one of the most widely used appliances in the kitchen. Rice cooker technology has advance quite a bit since then and has made cooking rice very simple and convenient. But while this is the case many people are still very intimidated and avoid cooking rice altogether. This is such a shame because there are lots of health benefits to eating rice and it tastes pretty good if cooked correctly. Read on further as I will outline a simple guideline to follow on how to use a rice cooker so that you can prepare perfectly delicious rice every time you cook.

Do you need to prepare the bowl before cleaning?

Almost all modern rice cookers come with a non-stick pan so you do not need to prepare the bowl. Just wash the bowl with regular dish soap and water after every use.

How much rice do I need per serving?

The amount of rice person can vary depending on the person but generally you would need about a 1/2 cup of uncooked rice per person. Most rice cookers will come with their own cup and recommended amount. A good idea is to begin with the recommended amount and then adjust the amount as needed next time. Also important to note is that the cup size that come with a Japanese rice cooker is much smaller than in an American rice cooker. So if you do have a Japanese rice cooker you may want to user 2/3 of a cup per person.

Rinsing the rice

This is an optional process as rinsing will remove the excess starch agent off the rice and remove any dirt impurities. I found that it made the rice less gummy and sticky when it has been washed and it tasted better. The process is pretty simple, once you have the rice in a bowl pour regular tap water into the bowl and then use your hand to stir the rice around while it fills. You will notice the water become very cloudy once the inner bowl is filled up. Then you carefully pour the excess water out into the sink until only the rice is left. Repeat the same steps 2-3 times until the water becomes clear and then the rice is ready to cook.

Water to rice ratio

This brings us to probably the most important part of cooking rice. Which is how much water should we use? Most manuals would recommend a 2:1 ratio of water to rice but this can vary. If you like your rice drier then use lesser water but if you like your rice in the moist side then use a bit more. Many modern rice cookers now come with measuring lines on the bowl to mark how much water you need. The first line will be for 1 cup, second line for 2 cups and so on. If you are unsure then you should always read the owner’s manual for recommendations.

Cooking the rice

Once the rice is cleaned and you have the right amount of water in the bowl then you are ready to cook some rice. Just close the lid and press the switch and the rice cooker will do rest. You can let the rice soak in water for about 30 minutes if you want but I don’t find that to be very practical. Like most people I am normally pretty hungry when I come home from work so I don’t like waiting that long for my food! Once the rice starts cooking it normally will take about 20 minutes before it is done so this would be good time to prepare some side dishes. You will know that the cooker is done when the switch pops back up and once it is done you can help yourself to the some delicious rice.

On a final note most medium to higher price rice cookers come with automatic timers. This means you can be set your rice to start cooking whenever you want. So you can do the prep work in the morning before you go to work and preset it to cook just before you come home and you can have fresh cooked rice waiting for you! The rice cooker will also continue to work after it finishes so even if you are running late by a couple of hours it will still stay warm. This feature is very convenient it normally come in rice cookers $100 to $150. If you eat rice everyday it might be a worthwhile investment.

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