Sunday, November 01, 2009

Save Time and Sanity

...get a rice cooker!!!

When I Hubby and I were dating, I noticed that he didn't have a rice cooker in his house. I was shocked. What? I thought all households had rice cookers! Coming from an Asian household, every Asian (Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean...) I knew all had rice cookers.

My non-Asian friends would always tell me that they never even heard of a rice cooker and that they just cooked their rice on the stove top or in the microwave. "Haven't you ever heard of Minute Rice?" is something I've been asked a zillion times.

The beauty of the rice cooker is that it is so fast and so...easy! Measure rice, put into rice cooker, rinse rice, drain, measure water, put lid on, press button and walk away. Yes, that easy. I can cook a healthy and delicious meal for my family in 20 minutes.

I cook the rice in the rice cooker and while the rice is cooking, I steam veggies in the steamer/basket that comes with the rice cooker and bake salmon in the oven. You can also steam the salmon in the steaming basket if you wish, but I prefer baked salmon over steamed salmon.

Rice Cooker Basics:
People, a rice cooker is your best friend. It's a busy cook's best friend, a mother's life saver, and a must have kitchen gadget for fast, delicious, one pot meals. It's an essential part of Chinese cooking. You can cook a perfect pot of steamed Chinese white rice. You can also cook wild rice, brown rice, and other types of rice...all to perfection.

I was always told that the ratio of rice to water is 1:2. Of course, this varies. Check with your manual that comes with your rice cooker.

The ratio of water to rice will vary depending on what kind of rice you use and how "fluffy" or "firm" you want your rice.

Once the rice is cooked, the "warmer" will automatically keep your rice warm until ready to eat/serve. By "warm", I mean very hot! :)

My rice cooker cooks rice in 14 minutes. Generally, the cooking time for most rice cookers is anywhere between 15-18 minutes.

One complaint I've heard from someone about rice cooked in a rice cooker is, "I like my rice firm and not mushy. Rice cooker rice is always mushy." It doesn't have to be that way. You can easily solve this problem by adjusting the amount of water you put in. More water makes softer, stickier rice.

Simple Rice Cooker Recipes:

1. Salmon and Rice with Veggies
This is my go-to recipe when I don't have time to cook. I use my favourite salmon recipe and cook the rice as I normally do, but steam broccoli and cauliflower in the steaming basket. I alternate and sometimes steam green beans instead. Baked Salmon recipe: marinate salmon fillets (one fillet per person) in minced garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, and a dash of salt and black pepper. Bake in oven at 375-400 (depending on how hot your oven runs, but I cook my salmon at 375) for 20 mins.

2. Fried Rice
This recipe is fantastic after Christmas or Thanksgiving if you have leftover turkey or ham. Steam rice as you normally would and steam some carrots, corn and peas (you can use the frozen kind) in the steaming basket. Dice the ham or turkey. In a wok or very large skillet (I'd recommend using a wok if you have one), add a little oil and sautee some onion and garlic. Add ham or turkey, add cooked rice, add veggies, add soy sauce (salt and black pepper to taste if you wish), and gently fold the ingredients together. Yummy!

3. Steamed Chicken and Rice
A one pot dish! Thinly slice some chicken and marinate it in oyster sauce, chopped ginger root, oil. Cook rice as you normally would. Add veggies into the rice cooker. Add marinated chicken and let everything steam. Depending on how much chicken you cook and the size of the slices, you may have to steam it longer.

There are so many recipes you can try with your rice cooker. Some of Hubby's other favourites include: beef and broccoli with rice, risotto, spicy Korean bibimbap, cream of mushroom with rice and veggies, rice casseroles (I have so many rice casserole recipes, so you can never get bored).

Trust me. I have been in a pinch for time on more than one occasion. My rice cooker has served me well over the past few years. When I have students, it's hard for me to teach from 9 to 4, help my husband with whatever help he needs on the farm, help my students with homework (and now I have a baby who needs most of my time and attention) and cook a complete meal for everyone. I find ways to make cooking healthy, nutritious and delicious meals that don't take over an hour to prepare and cook (because there simply isn't time to be slaving in the kitchen, right?). The one thing you'll notice about the rice cooker is the amazing ease and speed of it. Say goodbye to keeping an eye on the pot of rice cooking on your stove. You can walk away and do other things!

Of course, we don't have rice every day. In fact, I think we have rice about twice a week. We alternate between rice, potato dishes, pasta...or sometimes our meals don't even include a starch dish and just veggies.

For rice cooker recipes from others online, click here.


caninecologne said...

hi c - omg, i couldn't live without my rice cooker! my fave type of rice is calrose (short grain). but i also like basmati and jasmine varietie.

for those people who's rice comes out mushy while using a rice cooker, they must be adding too much water. you cannot go wrong with a rice cooker, unless you're a total dumb ass.

you can even cook brown rice in a rice cooker - but you'll have to add an extra cup and a half of water...

good idea on using the steaming basket as well. i need to eat more steamed vegetable.

C said...

LOL! "you cannot go wrong with a rice cooker, unless you're a total dumb ass." My sentiments exactly. It's a no brainer really. Put rice and water in rice cooker and push button. Presto! :)

Uncivil said...

I've never heard of a rice cooker? We only have rice rockets around these parts?
I do like simplicity, so it sounds good.
Remind me to not visit your blog when I'm hungry? Drat!!!!

Ted said...

I heart you for this. I have a rice cooker, and until recently, I haven't been good at figuring it out. I guess I'm a total dumb ass. ;) Often I get the ratio wrong, while on the stove I don't have that problem. Mostly I use it with sushi rice. But it looks like you can use it with other kinds, too, right?

I'm going to try at least one of these recipes this week. Yay!

J at said...

I heart you for this. I have a rice cooker, and until recently, I haven't been good at figuring it out. I guess I'm a total dumb ass. ;) Often I get the ratio wrong, while on the stove I don't have that problem. Mostly I use it with sushi rice. But it looks like you can use it with other kinds, too, right?

I'm going to try at least one of these recipes this week. Yay!

J at said...

Sorry...the comment from Ted was me. :) I'm sure he'll enjoy the recipes, though!

J at said...

One question...just to be clear...I put the chicken and veggies in the one pot meal in raw, and when the rice hasn't started cooking yet, right? So they all start out in there together, and come out a yummy mess? That chicken looks deep fried to me. That it's steamed is AWESOME.

Deb said...

preach on sista from another mother! i've always said everyone has to have a rice cooker! i love your recipes and they hit so close to my kitchen.

minute rice is bleh. i boycott it. lol.

C said...

What's a rice rocket?!?! I guess I'm going to have to Google it! LOL!
Oh, Jimmy! I highly recommend a rice cooker! For a busy guy, a rice cooker is your best friend! :) You can cook enough for one person, or make more to have for leftovers the next day or to create a new dish for supper the next day.

C said...

I use the rice cooker rice for sushi as well. I LOVE it for making sushi rice! I do use the rice cooker for all my rice dishes though. I use it for casseroles,fried rice, arroz caldo, etc.

Oh, and yes...the chicken in the rice cooker (but it has to be thinly sliced pieces). Oh, and I have to confess that the chicken in the pic was pan fried. I used corn starch to coat the chicken and a bit more to thicken the sauce. Sorry! I didn't take a pic of the rice cooker chicken. I should try this week and post one for you! :)

If you try any of the recipes, let me know how they turn out! Trust me, you won't know what to do with all the extra time you'll save with making rice cooker meals!! :) LOL!

C said...

Hey, sista from anotha mutha! ;) LOL! Okay, you got me thinking that you and I should post a rice cooker recipe every day for a month. LOL...only if I were that ambitious! ;)

C said...

When I first heard of cooking/steaming the veg and chicken in the rice cooker RAW on top of the rice, it kind of worried me. I mean, raw chicken touching the other food!! But, it all cooks thoroughly and the best part is that it is a one pot dish! Those are the best! LOL!

louann said...

We always had a rice cooker but when we have brown outs, I have to revert back to the good 'ol rice pot!

C, may I invite you iver to our house to cook some of those YUMMY dishes you keep talking about??!!

Tracy said...

Wow! I'm sold! I totally want a rice cooker now!

Your fried rice dish looks YUMMY!

C said...

:) You should totally get one! You can get a pretty good one for a reasonable price. They're pretty inexpensive...unless you want a super duper rice cooker like the one my mom has! :)

Trust me...LIFE SAVER!! Okay, maybe not "life" saver, but certainly a time saver!! :)

Plus, it makes cooking dinners so easy. You can easily make your salad, cook veggies, cook chicken, fish, or whatever you like while the rice is cooking! It allows you to do other things.

caninecologne said...

hi c - re: rice rocket - it's a derogatory (but funny) term for those souped up Asian import cars...they also have big spoilers so it looks like a shopping cart handle. so lame! usually Asian/Filipino thugz(or wanna be Asian white folk - no Mexicans or blacks drive those drive those around here, but rice rockets at least in san diego (in my neighborhood) are out of style. they were pretty popular in the late 90's.

BeachMama said...

My girlfriend gave me a rice cooker two years ago. I LOVE it! And I cannot believe I never had one before. So simple and such wonderful rice.

C said...

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! REALLY!?!?! Wow, you guys in the States have the funniest expressions! I have NEVER heard of a rice rocket before! Oh, man! You and Jimmy (Uncivil) sort of have similar sense of humours.

Thanks for enlightening me! ;)

C said...

I know, eh? :) So, what kind of dishes do you make with your rice cooker rice?

jMo said...

What, I never even heard of such a thing. You wud laugh if you knew how many pans of rice I've burned.

C said...

I've scorched pots and have ruined batches of rice when I cooked rice in a pot. I think I need "Cooking Stove-top Rice for Dummies". That, or just keep using the trusty 'ol rice cooker. LOL!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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