Are you using your rice cooker to its full potential? The answer is most likely, no.
When you are tired and hungry the last thing you want to do is spend time on your feet in the kitchen preparing a meal only to be left with a sink brimming with dirty, used dishes. On a night like this, your meal needs to be quick, and it needs to be easy. Enter the glorious one pot meal: the perfect solution for the tired eater. But let’s go a step further: did you know your rice cooker could make more than just rice?
The Daily Meal sat down with Diane Phillips, author of The Everyday Rice Cooker: Soups, Sides, Mains, Grains, and More, who wants to help you get a delicious meal on the table with a minimum amount of effort.
The Daily Meal (DM): What is the difference between cooking a meal in a rice cooker vs. a slow cooker? Can I cook slow-cooker recipes in a rice cooker?
Diane: An on/off rice cooker has only one setting, which is high. A rice cooker works on a different principle than a slow cooker (it's basically a steamer) and the rice cooker is best used to steam ingredients together, rather than cooking them for a long time. Since the rice cooker is much smaller than most slow cookers, [the recipes] will have to be cut down to fit into the rice cooker, and some things, like braises, won’t work well.
Anything special to know when we're cooking grains, other than rice, in a rice cooker?
If you have a fuzzy logic machine (fuzzy logics are smart rice cookers that make intuitive time and temperature adjustments while cooking), any grain will cook well in the rice cooker; the brain of the fuzzy logic machine will figure out how long it is supposed to cook and present you with a perfect result every time. The basic on/off machines can be used to make brown rice, wild rice, farro, and bulgur wheat, but they will need to be timed.
What are some of the common mistakes when cooking a meal in a rice cooker? How can we avoid them?
Some of the common pitfalls of cooking a meal in the rice cooker are overloading the rice cooker as it only holds 6 cups of ingredients, overcooking fish (most fish will have to be added after the rice/grain cooks for 15 to 20 minutes), and adding greens too early (add them at the end or they’ll turn an unappetizing shade of khaki green).
Anything else we should know?
Remember that the ambient heat in the rice cooker will continue to cook the ingredients even if the machine is turned off or unplugged so be sure to take that into consideration. Also, a rice cooker will not speed up the cooking time (like a pressure cooker), nor will it slow cook a huge piece of meat into succulent perfection like a slow cooker would, but it will help you to get a delicious meal on the table after you get home from work, with a minimum amount of effort.
Don’t believe it? Check out these 10 recipes ready for your rice cooker and try for yourself!
Edited by Cook Editor Rachael Pack, follow her on Instagram at @rachael_pack. Additional reporting by Kristie Collado.