For a simple, basic foodstuff - one that is the staple diet of
millions of people in the world - rice can be a challenge for
many people to prepare and cook. Not too sticky, not too dry, not to
mushy, not too hard - in fact, it must be just right according
to individual tastes. Using a cooker does not necessarily mean that
your rice will cook any faster, but it is generally considered an easier
and more mistake-free way to get the job done.
The answer for many people is the rice cooker. They first appeared
in the 1950’s and have since become an item important to almost
every Asian household. At first they just heated themselves to a certain
temperature and then switched off when that temperature was reached.
The newer ones now have timers so that people can place the ingredients
in the cooker, go to work or to bed, and find perfect rice when they
come back. The latest have microchips which enable the customer to choose
different settings for particular types of rice.
In a rice cooker the rice and water are placed in a removable pan inside
the lid, a heating plate boils the water and your rice is ready in about
30 minutes. Most cookers will then keep the rice warm without overcooking
it. The latest thing is to use the rice cooker as a kind of crock pot
to cook soup, stew or steamed meats and vegetables.
Rice cookers typically cost anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00 depending
upon size and added features, although some very small ones can be found
for much less. Instructions as to amounts of rice and water are usually
included with the product, but some experimentation is necessary to
allow for individual preferences. More water, softer rice, less water,
dryer rice. Different brands or types of rice will also cook differently.
Most cookers recommend that the rice sit in the cooker, with the lid
on, for some minutes after the designated cooking time is finished.