Nowadays it is easier than ever to cook rice. Using a rice cooker is not at all as complicated as it sounds, and it is quite a modern and healthy way of eating rice. You don’t even need to watch over the appliance, since most of them have an automatic timer incorporated. Read on to find out how to use an automatic rice cooker and take advantage to the fullest!
Preparing the Rice
Measure the rice and put it in the cooking pot. Some of the rice cookers on the market have a removable bowl or pot, while for others you will have to put the rice directly in the cooker. Most of the time, the rice cookers have a measuring cup or scoop of approximately 180 ml, but you can use any cup. Remember that one cup of uncooked rice can equal to 1 ½ cups or even three cups of cooked rice, depending on what type of rice it is. As such, leave enough space for this if you don’t want it to spill over.
Rinse the Rice
Many people actually want to rinse the rice in order to be sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides or other types of contaminants that remain in it. Also, rinsing may prevent the rice from clumping together when you cook it. Rinse the rice under the faucet and stir in it as you add the water until you cover it completely. Drain the water slowly and repeat the process until the water remains clear.
Measure the Water
Most instructions for rice cookers ask for cold water. How much water you need depends in fact on the quantity of rice you want to cook and the type of rice. Of course, if you prefer a moist dish, then you should add more water. There are general recommendations regarding the type of rice and the quantity of water which should be used, but it is always up to you how you want to cook it.
Soak the Rice
This is not a compulsory step, but many people prefer to soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking in order to make the coking process shorter. After soaking, the rice will become stickier. Remember the amount of water you measured before? Take it and use it in order to soak the rice at the room temperature, and then use the water for cooking.
Another optional step is to add flavorings. These shoud be added in the water before you turn on the rice cooker, so that the rice can absorb all the flavors during the cooking process. Some people prefer to add just some salt, while others go for more complicated flavorings such as butter, oil, cardamom seeds, bay leaf or soy sauce, for example.
Take the Rice Grains Off the Sides
With a wooden or plastic utensil, you should push the rice grains off the sides of the pot and back under the water. If there is any rice left above the water, it will burn during the cooking process. If you notice that there is water and/or rice that was spilled over the edge, make sure to wipe the outside of the pot with a clean cloth or a rag.
Pay attention! Do not stir the rice under the water level! If you do so, the rice may release the excess starch, and so it will become stickier or clumpier.
Check the Options on the Rice Cooker
Not many people do this, but it is essential to know your rice cooker. Take your time and read the manual or explore the options you see. Some of them are more basic and rely only on an on/off switch, while other rice cookers are more complicated, with lots of settings. Check and see if you have white/brown rice settings, or a delay time setting. It’s okay if you just use the basic settings too, but it would be in your advantage to take advantage of the special ones.
Cook the Rice
Finally, you should place the pot of rice and water back into the cooker. Close the lid, plug it in and turn it on. You will hear a click from the switch, just like with a toaster, when the rice is done. With most rice cookers, the rice will be warm until you unplug the appliance. Never lift the lid to check on the rice! The steam inside the pot is essential for the cooking process, so don’t let it escape the pot or the rice may turn out badly cooked!
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons