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The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook

When Julie, my coauthor, got a Sanyo rice cooker as a gift from her husband as he passed through the Tokyo airport, she couldn’t find recipes to make in it. The accompanying booklet was for Japanese ingredients, not American cooks. We realized a good rice cooker handbook was needed. If you eat rice more than a couple of times a week, a rice cooker is a solid investment. But where to start? The challenge was that there were different types of machines and how to write recipes to bridge the gaps? So we wrote the book including not only the how-tos but about all the available rices on the market. We are working on a revision with an expanded section on delicious whole grains out in 2012. We are very proud to be endorsed by the Rice Federation of America, who consider our rice cooker book one of the best books in print on rice. Wow, what an honor.

  My neuro fuzzy logic machine with removable inner lid  
  On/off rice cooker with steamer basket inserts  
  Zojirushi stainless steel induction cooker-the latest technology  
  Digital rice cooker from China with purple clay cooking bowl  
  Stainless steel Zojirushi with cooked rice  
  The unique designer model of the future called RISO  
Once upon a time if you rented a room or studio with a diminutive kitchen, one had to depend on countertop appliances. That meant a toaster or toaster oven, microwave, and electric fry pan. Fast forward and today we have a cornucopia of countertop appliances that make a kitchen where you can prepare just about anything from baking (the convection toaster ovens), full meals (microwave), grilled vegetables and meats (George Foreman grills) and pancakes and sausages (electric griddles) on a long countertop or table. The rice cooker has its place here in the land of impossible cooking scenarios. Enter the dorm room. Students end up eating the vast majority of their meals in the university cafeterias or restaurants. This is can be an expensive, unhealthy way to live.

College students are arriving at school now with way more cooking skills than in the past and a knowledge about eating more healthy, as well as having a palate for diverse ethnic cuisines. A lot of people do not realize that a rice cooker is not just for rice. It can be used to cook just about anything and it is much more versatile than other small kitchen appliances. Rice cookers are much safer than many small kitchen appliances like heating plates and water boilers because rice cookers automatically turn off when the temperature indicates the food is cooked. There is a nonstick bowl for easy cleanup (often in your bathroom sink in lieu of a full kitchen). Here are a few things (besides cooking rice) that a rice cooker can be used for:
  • Steaming vegetables: everything from cooking corn to potatoes, frozen to fresh

  • Steaming tamales and dim sum

  • Cooking fish and chicken

  • Boiling pasta

  • Cooking grains (like quinoa and couscous)

  • Making small quantity soups and stews

We have divided the book into three main sections: cooking rice and grains on the regular cycle; the porridge cycle for risotto, polenta, beans, and puddings; and a steaming chapter. This machine steams vegetables, puddings, and other fresh foodstuffs better than many of the other stovetop methods! Many of the recipes can be made in either type of machine, but some can only be made in one or the other, due to the specific capabilites of the machine. The regular cycle refers for both the on/off and fuzzy logic machines:
  • The Perfect Pot of Rice (Basic Rice Recipes)

  • Simple Everyday Rices and Little Meals

  • The Family of Pilafs

  • The Whole Grain Cooker

  • Sushi

The Porridge cycle is an exclusive feature of the fuzzy logic machines:
  • Risotto

  • Polenta, Grits, and Hominy

  • Beans and Legumes

  • Breakfast Porridges and Other Hot Cereals

  • Sweet Puddings and Fruit Desserts

Unless foods are placed directly on top of the rice using the regular cycle, steaming is a feature that works best in the on/off model machines. We recommend the large (10-cup) cooker fitted with a steamer plate in the bottom of the bowl or set of stacked steamer baskets (which I love) for most of these recipes:
  • Vegetables in the Rice Cooker

  • Whole-Meal Steam Cuisine

  • Little Bites: Dim Sum, Dolmas, Tamales, and Other Pleasures

  • Custards and Steamed Puddings

A Note on Rice Cooker Whole Grains

Many cooks rarely cook a variety of the slower-cooking grains just because they aren’t as convenient as rice. The rice cooker cooks these up with the ease and efficiency just as for the rice. All you need to do is buy some next time you are shopping. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Barley: Barley is best known in Vegetable Barley Soup. But it makes a nice side dish or salad grain as well. Pearl barley has some amount of the outer bran coating removed for quicker cooking. Hulled barley (considered a whole grain) can be used, but this will increase your cooking time significantly over pearl barley.

  • Oats: The ultimate morning grain, oats are available in different forms that end up taking more or less time to cook. Steel-cut oats are created by cutting the groat down into smaller pieces and take the longest to cook. Old-fashioned rolled oats are produced by steaming whole groats and rolling them to varying thicknesses. Try the Gluten Free Rolled Oats from Bob’s Red Mill; they are so whole grainy delicious,and Silver Palate Extra Thick Cut Rolled Oats, the Cadillac of Oatmeal. Quick-cooking and instant oats are simply the thinnest or most finely cut oats.

  • Quinoa: Quinoa is a South American grain with a gigantic nutritional profile that has taken its time coming to the American kitchen as it is a bit of an acquired taste. Cooking quinoa is easier than trying to figure out how to pronounce it (KEEN-wah). The protein in quinioa is complete, in comparison to other grains which are incomplete nutritionally, so it’s an ideal grain for vegetarians or for a light meal. It is available in a spectrum of reds, black, and ivory in U.S. markets.

  • Cracked wheat: is simply the result of cracking wheat berries between rollers into smaller pieces. Cracked wheat is nutritionally intact and very quick to cook, but completely different in terms of how you might use it. It is the basis for tabouli salad. But to make it in the rice cooker and serve it as a simple side dish with some butter or olive oil, it is absolutely scrumptuos and rich flavored.

  • Wild rice: Wild rice is like special occasion rice. It is technically a grass so you can get some flavor relief from rice every day by making some wild rice, or mixing it with white or brown rice to mut its earthy, nutty flavor. A broad spectrum of wild rice is available, coming not only from its native upper Great Lakes region where it is still grown in the wild, but paddy grown from California, Washington, and Idaho as well. There are both hand-harvested. Connoisseurs will be quick to tell you that wild rice hand-harvested from a canoe is like a fine wine. Hand-cultivated wild rice is the crème de la crème, a darker, glossy, brownish black wild rice. Whether you are buying hand-harvested or cultivated wild rice, price and quality varies greatly and cooking times can vary greatly depending on the type of wild rice you buy, when it was harvested, length of kernels, and how much moisture is left in each rice grain after it has sat some months.
Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
Qui's Basmati Pilaf
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