The rice cooker is a kitchen essential in most households and restaurants. It is one of those reliable appliances that every kitchen has, whether you consume a lot of rice or not. A centerpiece in most Asian households, it has its own quiet spot in the kitchen, ready to provide a quick plate of your desired rice. A conventional rice cooker is designed to boil rice, sense when it’s time to reduce it to a simmer, and lastly, reduce the heat in order to prevent overcooking but keep the rice warm.
It provides a smart and easy way to cook, so why use it just to cook rice? With just a little experimentation and patience, you easily trick this non-stick pot to cook a wide array of meals, be it one-pot dishes or your favorite desserts. You can think of it as a slow cooker. It’s not as fast compared to your normal stovetop, but it is certainly worth a shot if you wish to cook your favorite meals with less supervision and not having to clean a lot of utensils afterward.
That being said, here is a closer look at some of the surprising things you can make with a rice cooker:
Some rice cooker models come with a porridge setting. If yours does not, you’ll need to play around with the water to oats ratio in order to make the perfect porridge. You can add everything from dried fruits to spices or even meat and eggs to your congee. Just ensure you add the oats into the rice cooker to soak overnight and then switch it on in the morning for a quick tasty and healthy breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast, it certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when speaking about rice cookers. In reality, however, you can make an array of breakfast foods using this handy appliance. It’s perfect for boiling a bunch of eggs at once, particularly if comes with a timer. Also, you can whip up several eggs, add some chopped or frozen vegetables in the bowl, and cook on the standard-setting for some delicious frittatas. Of course, the size of the portion will depend on the size of your rice bowl, but with a medium-sized rice cooker, you can easily feed two to three individuals.
Soak your dried lentil or beans overnight in the bowl before cooking. If your rice cooker has a timer, you can soak the legumes and set the timer to begin cooking when you need them. In regards to beans, assuming they have been soaked overnight, you can expect them to be ready between 20 to 40 minutes. If they were not soaked, the cooking time can go up to 3 hours. The primary advantage of using a rice cooker here is that you do not need to supervise the pot when it’s cooking. As long as you put the right amount of water in, it will not burn.
When it comes to making soups with a rice cooker, the process has never been easier. Simply add in your ingredients, add adequate broth or water to make a soup, and bam! that’s it. If you are including meat, add it later in the cooking time, or it may end up overcooking. However, if that is what you are looking for, do not be afraid. Just remember that dried ingredients go in first, followed by fresh veggies, meat, and lastly, frozen vegetables.
5. Pot Roasts
When it comes to preparing pot roasts, add your choice of ingredients in the bowl, spices, meat, condiments, water or broth, and then turn on the regular cooking setting. When the cooking cycle ends, the cooker will automatically switch to the ‘keep warm’ setting and leave it as such for an hour. This will further slow cook the meat, leaving you with deliciously tender meat that falls off the bone.
Did you know that rice cookers are excellent alternatives to baking in an oven, in addition to saving space? If you’re craving pancakes, cheesecakes, or even cake, simply mix the ingredients in the rice bowl and switch on the standard cooking cycle. In this setting, it usually takes around an hour to cook and you can tell it’s done when the fork comes clean off the edges. Also, you can make an assortment of tasty puddings, make homemade apple sauce, and even poach fruit, all with a standard rice cooker.