Thursday, May 05, 2011

My $5 Rice Cooker

So here’s the story. Two weeks ago our church had a garage sale to raise money for the youth mission trip. Of course the Rev had to go and she dragged me along. (Well, maybe dragged isn’t fair - I went along). She bought some toys for the new grandson and a rack of bins to store them in. But I found an old rice cooker - $5.
Now I’ve never had a rice cooker before, if fact I’m not sure I even knew they existed. But what the heck, I like rice and I like the idea of a new toy. So I bought it.
It is a Zojirushi model NHS-18. Now you have to understand that I knew nothing about rice cookers when I bought this thing so this is a learning curve. Well, it didn’t have the manual or anything else so the first thing I did was go on-line and I’ll be darned if Zojirushi doesn’t have a great website and I could download the manual.
So I’m off and running making my first batch. The manual says to use 2 cups of rice and fill the pan up to the “2“ mark with water. So that is what I did for my first batch. It came out hard and under done. What the hey? Then I discovered that a “cup” for a rice cooker is actually 3/4 cup in normal measures. I also found that various sites suggested a ratio of 1 part rice to 1.5 or 2 parts water. Okay, I can do that.
So the second batch has two - 3/4 cup portions and I very carefully measured three - 3/4 cup portions of water. This time the water was up to the “2“ mark on the pan and I’m thinking I’ve got it right. Nope - the rice is better but still not done tender and fluffy.
The third night I got it closer to right. I put in two (3/4 cup) portions of rice and four portions of water. This came out pretty good. The rice was still a little sticky but very tender and a great flavor.
I have to say I really like this idea now of cooking rice in this cooker. You just put in the the rice and the water and walk away. The cooker does everything. This thing is great. You just push down on the “cook” lever and when the rice is done it pops up to the warming setting and holds the rice until you are ready to serve it. That makes it very easy to just put on the rice then go outside to grill the steaks and then serve everything when you come in.
So tonight it was time to actually do a meal in the cooker. I did get a steamer tray with the cooker and the manual said I could steam things like vegetables and shrimp. So tonight I tried shrimp. I picked up a new bag of rice and a pound of fresh shrimp at the store today and tried it out. This was so easy. I put 2 measures of rice and 4 measures of water in the bottom and put the shrimp on top in the steaming tray. Put on the lid, pushed the lever down to cook and let it do it’s thing. Thirty minutes later I had cooked rice and shrimp steamed to perfection. It was glorious. I chopped up some bok choy and sautéed that with some Kikoman teriyaki sauce added the shrimp and I had a great meal.
I am hooked on this cooker. I still don’t have the rice perfect but it is very good. I also picked up some brown rice to experiment with. All of the web sites say that is harder with this model of cooker but I’m going to play with it. I’ll let you know how it goes.
We have been getting some nice spring weather finally - Enjoy and. . .
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