Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rice is nice

I have traveled through many Asian countries. I have eaten many cuisines, each one of them more exotic then the last. The only thing that links the wonderfully spicy Dahl in India to the delicate fish of Japan is… rice. This is not to say that all rice is created equally. There is a myriad of rice varieties all over the world Black rice in Bali, Red rice in Thailand, Jasmine rice in Japan, and good old brown rice, here in hippie America. Now what connects all this rice from all over the world? The rice cooker. Now I normally wouldn’t make grand generalizations (that’s a lie I do it all the time, but for the sake of sounding sensitive I will down play this fact) but it seems like everyone in Asia has a rice cooker, and what can I say that over 2 billion people can’t be wrong. In Asia with the exception of the very hard up, I have never seen anyone cook rice in a pot on a stove.

I bought my rice cooker years ago and the damn thing won’t die. I left it on top of my toaster oven and melted the legs off and it still works great, am I a little concerned the house may burn down, but hey you have to live dangerously and it’s not the rice cooker’s fault. I have a small rice cooker which can feed 3-4 hungry people max. For bigger parties I have a 30 cup rice cooker and that thing will feed an army. But for just me and my wife the small one works great.

What I love about it is the ease with which it works. I mean you put in rice and water (different rices need different amounts of water) push a button and walk away. When you come back you have perfectly cooked rice, no stirring or tricks or guessing and no burnt bottom. Sorry that got a little infomercial there for a second, but I really can’t stress enough how great the cooker is. I have to be honest I don’t even really know how to make rice without a cooker. I have tried a ton of different ways but not one has produced the same effect every time as rice cooker does.

I have started to branch out with my rice cooker. I now make steel cut oatmeal in the morning, I set it up with I cup of oats and double water and a little butter hit the button then take a shower. When I get out breakfast is ready. I also made a great cheating risotto in it. I added rice and a little less chicken stock than the recipe called for, I also added some fresh herbs and a little parmasean cheese. When the button popped everything came out great. I then buttered the bottom of a pan add some garlic and let that brown for thirty seconds, then I added the risotto and began adding chicken stock and white wine until the rice was just cooked through then I added a little more fresh herbs and parmesan cheese, seasoned with salt and pepper and done. It didn’t really cut down on time but it sure did cut down on the ease of the recipe.

I have also cooked a paella gumbo sort of thing in the rice cooker. But that recipe will have to wait till next time.

I have no idea how the rice cooker knows but it knows a whole hell of a lot of more about cooking rice than I do. It has a non-stick surface which makes cleaning easy but even better than that it has never screwed up a pot of rice. Unlike me who has screwed up more than my fare share of rice so I figure why not let this thing do it every time.

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