Does it seem like a waste to buy a rice cooker just to cook rice? To the Chinese, the answer is an obvious NO because rice is served at the dinner table nearly every day so it is important to have an appliance that cook rice easily and quickly. This doesn't mean that they won't use the rice cooker to make other dishes. My grandmother used to cook another dish by steaming it on top of rice that is nearly done in the rice cooker.
Some people only have a rice cooker in their kitchens. For example, students who live in dormitories that do not come with a kitchen or stovetop. Unless they eat out all the time, there will be times when they need to cook something (other than rice) with the rice cooker.
Here are some interesting chinese rice cooker recipes that do not feature rice.
1. Marbled tea eggs 茶叶蛋 (cha ye dan)
The literal translation of this dish is Tea Leaves Eggs. The rice cooker is the ideal cooking pot to make these eggs.
The Chinese drink a lot of tea and to throw away all those brewed tea leaves seems such a waste. So, they add these used leaves to a pot, add some fragrant spices and cook some eggs in it.
We all know that hard boiled eggs are fairly bland and by adding them to the tea and spice brew create a nice colour and fragrance to the eggs.
The interesting thing about these eggs are the marbling pattern and the fragrance of the spices. To achieve a more pronounced marbling pattern, crack the egg shells by knocking them gently all around before adding to the spice brew.
A wonderful mid-afternoon snack.
15 medium-sized eggs
5g star anise, soaked
5g dried tangerine peel, soaked
5g cinnamon, soaked
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 black tea bags
Hard boil the eggs, remove and drain
When the eggs have cooled, use a metal spoon to knock the eggs off creating fine cracks in the shells
Place the soaked ingredients, tea bags, soy sauce and water into the rice cooker together with the hard boiled eggs
Homemade yoghurt kits can be quite expensive and there isn't really any need to buy yoghurt starters. Use your rice cooker to keep the milk warm enough to turn into yoghurt. A slow cooker or thermal cooker can do the trick too.
50g fresh plain yoghurt (preferably greek)
Equipment: 1 plastic disposable container with air tight cover
Sterilise the plastic container and spoon
Add water to the rice cooker and warm it up to about 45 degree celsius
Pour the milk into the plastic container and cover
Place the container inside the rice cooker into the hot water
Cover and heat the milk to about 40 degree celsius
Remove the plastic container and add the yoghurt to the warm milk
Cover the plastic container tightly and place it back into the rice cooker and cover
Turn off the rice cooker and allow the milk and yoghurt mixture to sit in the rice cooker overnight or for 12 hour
Remove the homemade yoghurt from the rice cooker and place into the refrigerator to chill
Avoid scratching the metal rice pot with metal spoons. Use plastic or wooden rice paddles
I like washing the rice in the rice pot itself because I can measure the water needed directly in the sink over the tap. But this means wiping the undersides of the pot really dry before placing it in the cooking chamber
After use, remove the bowl and wash in hot, soapy water, then rinse and dry completely. It is not necessary to wash the outer chamber. Even with a boil over, you should only wipe it with a damp cloth
If rice has stuck to the bottom of the bowl, don't scrap it vigorously. Fill it with warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. The water will cause the rice grains to swell and soften. They will separate themselves from the surface of the bowl
Some cookers have a detachable lid for easy cleaning. Others have a spoon holder and a condensation cup that is attached to the side of the cooker. Remove both attachments, empty any liquid from the cup, then wash and dry them
Wipe any condensation on the lid with a dry, clean kitchen towel
To cook a nice pot of fluffy rice, use equal amount of water to rice
Types of Rice Cookers
The rice cooker can be found in almost all Chinese kitchens. There are a variety of rice cookers in the market right now. Some are simple no-frill with just cook and keep warm options, some have additional accessories such as a steaming tray. Others have small computer chips to help with the cooking. There is also a microwave rice cooker. Let's talk a bit about a couple of these.
1. Electric rice cooker
By far, the most common rice cooker is the electric one. It is made up of a cooking chamber with a heating element at the bottom and a power cord. A removable metal bowl sits snugly in the cooking chamber on top of the heating element. The rice is cooked inside this metal bowl. The cover may or may not have a glass panel to let you check on the rice.
These rice cookers usually only have the off, cook and warm buttons. You can cook rice and congee in it. It can also be used as a steamer. I remember with much fondness my paternal grandmother steaming a bowl of egg custard or fresh fish in it...right on top of the rice cooking inside.
This is how she did it. Rice takes about 20-30 minutes to cook while an egg custard or fish only needs 5-10 minutes. She would start cooking the rice first. When the rice is about done, she places the other dish on top of the rice to cook. Talk about saving energy (^_^).
2. Fuzzy logic rice cooker
As technology advances, so did this kitchen appliance.
The fuzzy logic rice cooker uses the microchip technology. It can cook a larger range of food. There are pre-set timing for different food including risotto and rice congee. There are also quick cook and slow cook functions.
I can cook rice in a simple electric cooker, but a fuzzy logic one is on my wishlist. I am dreaming of all the yummy stuff I can cook with it. Some brands even state that it can make breads.
My top brands would be Zojirushi and Panasonic. Yes, all Japanese brands because they are simply better.