You may be thinking, why would you need a rice cooker yet people have been cooking rice on the stovetop for ages?
Whereas cooking rice is a relatively easy task, you may not always get the perfect results. That’s where the rice cooker comes in. It gives you perfect results every time.
What is a rice cooker?
A rice cooker is a kitchen appliance, which like other kitchen appliances, aims at making your life much easier.
You can use a rice cooker to cook rice and other grains alike. The best part about is that it is automatic, therefore, you can do other things at the same time that your rice is cooking. You also don’t need to worry about the rice boiling over.
How does it work?
Using a rice cooker is pretty straight forward. All you need to do is add some water and rice to the cooking pot, select the program that you want, and press the start button. Pretty easy, right?
I’ll give you a step-by-step process of making the perfect rice in your rice cooker.
When all the water in the cooking pot boils off, the rice cooker shuts off automatically. The cooking time usually depends on how much rice you are cooking, so there is no specific cooking time.
Basically, once you have put your rice in the cooker, you just need to sit back and relax. The cooker will do the rest.
Step by step process of using a rice cooker
As you can see, using a rice cooker is quite simple. You just need to follow a few steps for your rice to cook perfectly. Here is how to properly use a rice cooker for the best results.
What you will need
- Electric rice cooker
- Measuring cup
- Measure the amount of rice that you want to cook
Now, this may seem like an obvious step but I insist that measuring the amount of rice is essential if you want to get the best results.
Use a measuring cup to measure out your rice. 1 cup of rice will give you approximately 2 to 3 cups of cooked rice.
- Rinse the rice
This is another very important step. Place the rice you measured in a sieve and rinse it. Use cold water to rinse the rice. Rinsing gets rid of all the excess starch. It will also give you fluffy rice which is exactly the result that we want.
If you do not rinse your rice, the excess starch may cause your rice cooker to splatter. Prevent this by rinsing your rice in cold water until the water runs clear.
- Place the rice in the rice cooker bowl
Once you have rinsed and sieved the rice, the next step is placing the rice in the rice cooker bowl. You can also add your salt or any other seasoning at this point. This way, the rice will have ample time to infuse the flavors that you have added to your rice.
- Measure out the cold water that you will use
I insist you use cold water when cooking rice using a rice cooker. Use a measuring cup to measure out the water that you will need depending on the amount of rice that you are cooking.
Please note that if you are cooking brown rice or long grain rice, you may need to use more water than you usually use when cooking white short grain rice.
- Add the water into the cooker bowl.
Once you have measured the water that you will need, pour the water into the rice cooker bowl.
At this point, all your rice should be covered with water. Use a wooden spoon to gently push rice grains that stick onto the sides of the rice cooker into the water.
At this point, do not stir the rice. If you do, the rice will release more starch and you will most likely end up with sticky rice when it is cooked.
- Place the bowl into your rice cooker
With everything in place, the next thing to do is place the bowl into your rice cooker. Once in place, close the lid as tightly as possible and turn on the rice cooker.
Most rice cookers just have the on/off button. These are the simplest models in the market. I personally use one of these simple models which serve me just fine
Some rice cookers come with several cooking options. If you are not sure of which one you should use, confirm from your manual.
- Let the rice cooker do its magic
At this point, there is really no other thing you need to do. If your meal accompaniments are ready, just sit back and relax. If not, you can use this time to prepare the rest of your meal.
Do not open the lid of the rice cooker to check on the rice. Doing this will destabilize the steam inside the rice cooker and affect the cooking time as well. If you can’t help it, try opening the lid when you know the rice is almost cooked.
If you are making flavored rice, it is important to check so that the rice does not burn. Flavored rice has a tendency to burn.
If the sound of the rice cooking changes from a simmering sound to a dry sound, that’s your cue that the rice is ready and you should check just to make sure it does not burn.
If you check and your rice is not completely cooked, just stir the rice using a wooden spoon to ensure that it does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
At this point, you can even add a drop of oil to ensure that the rice does not stick to the sides of the bowl or burn.
When all the water in the rice has boiled off, the rice cooker will turn itself off automatically and switch to the ‘keep warm’ function. Depending on the type of rice cooker you have, it may simply click or sound an alarm.
- Let the rice keep warm in the rice cooker
If you are ready to serve the rice immediately after it is cooked, open the cooker and let it rest for approximately 8 minutes before serving. You should also unplug it. This way, the rice will not stick to the sides of the bowl.
If you are not ready to serve the rice, just leave the rice cooker as it is until you are ready to serve. However, read your manual to ensure that you do not leave the rice in the rice cooker for longer than the manufacturer recommends.
- Fluff and serve the rice
This is yet another obvious but I just had to mention it. Use a silicon or plastic fork to fluff the rice, especially when your rice cooker bowl is coated and non-stick.
If you use a steel fork, it will tamper with the coating of your non-stick bowl and it may not work as well as it should in the future.
Cleaning the rice cooker
Once you have cooked and served the rice, it is important that you clean the rice cooker, even if the rice did not stick to the sides of your bowl.
If the rice is stuck to your bowl, you may have to soak it in water and detergent for a few minutes before washing it.
The rice cooker bowl is dishwasher safe, so you can either wash it by hand or use the dishwasher. You can also was the lid of the rice cooker by hand using detergent and water.
As for the rice cooker itself, you need to wait until it is completely cool. Once it is, use a damp cloth to wipe it. While doing so, avoid touching the inner spring because it is very fragile.
Once everything is washed, let them air dry. Do not rush them. When they are completely dry, you can reassemble the rice cooker so that it is ready for your next use.
Soggy or sticky rice? What you did wrong.
The rice cooker does not guarantee that your rice will not be sticky or soggy. This is entirely your doing.
Sticky or soggy rice is usually an indication that you used too much water to cook your rice. Another explanation is that you did not rinse your rice before cooking. Rice can also become sticky when you stir it right before you cook it.
So, what is the solution? For starters, use the right amount of water. The recommended rice to water ratio when using a rice cooker is 1:1.
For instance, if you are cooking two cups of short grain white rice, use two cups of water. The ratio changes when you are cooking brown rice. For every cup of brown rice that you intend to cook, use two cups of water.
Another thing that you need to do is rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking. I suggest that you rinse it until the water runs clearly. Finally, do not stir the rice while it is in the rice cooker bowl. Avoid this and you will end up with perfect fluffy rice.