According to the Research Program on Rice, rice is the world’s most important staple food. Around 4 billion people across the world rely on rice as their regular diet. So if you are part of that 4 billion-plus that consume rice often, then a rice cooker would be a great investment for you.
But, even if you don’t eat rice as often, having one would definitely be a great addition to your kitchen. It is especially true if you aren’t well-versed with cooking rice. Plus, there is more to a rice cooker than you think.
If you are wondering why a rice cooker is worth buying, then this article is for you. Here are some of the benefits of having a rice cooker in your kitchen counter:
1. Easy and convenient use
A rice cooker takes away the work you have to do when cooking rice.
With just a few preparations and a touch of a button, you can get your rice cooking while you tend to other things or just leisurely wait until it is cooked.
It is especially helpful if your schedule is always tight. A healthy and hearty dinner cannot be ignored.
2. Safe way to cook rice
Have you tried cooking rice in a pot or a pan? If you aren’t familiar with it, you may end up having burnt rice or a gritty porridge. It is something that you don’t want as part of your meal.
To make sure that your rice comes out well cooked and palatable, a rice cooker would be your greatest ally in the kitchen. It does not require you to do much. You just have to measure the rice, wash it, add the water, and then place it in the cooker. Oh, and don’t forget to press the cook button.
After you did all those steps, you get to sit back or turn your focus on cooking the other dishes that you’ll have with your rice. When the rice is cooked, the machine itself will turn off the cooking mode. You don’t need to worry about your rice being overcooked or undercooked anymore.
3. Keeps your rice warm
After it cooks your rice, most rice cookers (if not all) switch off the cooking mode and turns on the warming mode. It keeps your rice warm until you turn the rice cooker off. Yes, the rice stays warm, but it doesn’t get overcooked.
I guess we all agree that rice is best served warm. This feature of a rice cooker is extremely helpful in that aspect. It is especially true if the preparation of the other dishes takes longer than cooking the rice or if you just accidentally forgot that you were cooking rice. I know I do, sometimes. You would still be able to enjoy your meal warm with getting the rice overcooked.
4. Makes risotto (and other rice dishes)
Who said that you could only cook plain rice in a rice cooker? That is false. You can actually make a decent risotto using a rice cooker without constant stirring. Once you tried it, you’ll probably don’t want to go back on cooking it on a stove.
You’ll have to sauté your aromatics, such as your onion, garlic, leeks, etc. You don’t need to do it on another pan; you can directly sauté it on the pot of the rice cooker. After that, you can add your Arborio rice, vegetables, and liquid. Stir it a few times. At this point, you’ll just have to set the rice cooker and let the machine do its job. This makes making your favorite risotto more convenient than ever. Of course, the steps I mentioned above are just a summary. It is just to show you how easy, convenient, and doable it is to make risotto in a rice cooker. There are a lot of recipes online that are for rice cookers, but I find the article, How to Make Risotto in the Rice Cooker, from The Spruce Eats a great place to start.
5. Cooks more than just rice
Rice cookers were originally made to be an appliance that cooks your rice. But, you know, rice is not the only thing that it can cook. You’ll be surprised to find out that it can cook more than just plain rice and risotto.
Now, this is a life changer when you live in a dorm since you’ll probably be allowed to have a few kitchen appliances, and a rice cooker just happens to be one of those that are authorized. Trust me, I have been there and I have cooked in a rice cooker before. The following can be done even in a rice cooker that has the simplest settings:
5.1 Instant noodles
A secret that helped me in my dorm life during those midnight snack cravings is a rice cooker, instant noodles, and an egg. If your instant noodles come in cups, of course, you’ll only need to add hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. But for me, instant noodles that come in packets taste way better.
You cook your instant noodles just like you would on a stove. Boil water in the rice cooker pot, add the noodles and allow it to cook with frequent stirring. When the noodles are cooked, you can add the flavoring and the egg. Tadaa- You have a filling midnight snack. It can also pass a decent meal if you ask me.
5.2 Steamed vegetables and fish
There are several models of rice cookers that come with a steamer rack. One example is the Hamilton Digital Rice Cooker, which you can find on Amazon. With the steamer rack included, the rice cooker becomes a one-pot meal where you can steam your seafood, vegetables, or dumplings. You can do it while your rice cooks or opt to do it separately. This takes convenience into another level.
The Hamilton Digital Rice Cooker has a steam option that sets the rice cooker to a setting that is optimum for steaming. But a simple rice cooker model, like that of the Black & Decker Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, it is still possible to steam your food items. Just add the right amount of water in the pot, put the steamer on top, and press cook. It would still be able to steam your food well.
5.3 Slow-cooked meals
Yes, you read that right. Rice cookers can actually cook long-simmered dishes like your soups, beans, and stews. Some rice cookers have settings for this, but even those with a simple cook and warm options can do this. Trust me, I have done it.
If a rice cooker is the only kitchen appliance that you have in your dorm, this fact may change your meal gaming for the better. You can cook the soups that you miss or try out that stew recipe from home.
One thing to note is that you will need lots of patience for it. Since it is a rice cooker, it won’t heat the pot too much and would easily shift to warm mode. This would frequently happen in the beginning, especially when your sautéing. But once you are past that and you’ve added a bunch of the other ingredients and your liquid, it would go on smoothly until the dish is done and well cooked.
5.4 Poached dishes
Because you’ll only need boiled water or any liquid to poach different food items, it is easily doable in a rice cooker. You can effortlessly poach food items such as eggs, fruits for dessert, and even make your poached chicken dish. Not only will you be able to conveniently cook your meal, but you also get to have a healthy dessert with it.
6. Multi-cooker is an option
A simple rice cooker can do the entire above-mentioned jobs well. But if you think that’s the peak of what a rice cooker can do, think again. Manufactures have upgrade rice cookers where you’ll get pre-programmed settings for different ways you’d like to cook.
It is doable to sauté using a rice cooker with just a cook and warm option; although it would be a bit time consuming since the pot won’t heat up too much and would often switch from cook mode to warm mode. However, with a multi-cooker, you can easily sauté with just a press of a button.
One of the many multi-cookers you can find in the market is the Hamilton Beach Multi-Cooker. This model has 14 pre-programmed settings that allow you to slow cook, steam, sauté, sear, simmer, and more on top of cooking your rice right. And all of this can be done in one pot. So, if you have a bigger budget, I suggest you check this one out.
As you can see, a rice cooker is just more than an appliance for you to make sure your plain rice cooks well. You can create numerous dishes with just this one appliance, making it a one-pot cooker at a budget-friendly price.
So, if you are wondering if it is worth it, the simple answer is yes. You don’t only get to have warm rice on your plate, but you can create a healthy and hearty meal as well.
The following articles are part of our research: