So you have a rice cooker...
Making rice by hand isn't hard per se, just tedious and repetitive. Enter the
rice cooker; it handles the timing and temperature for you. If you eat rice more often
than once a week, I would consider it indispensable as it frees you, your measuring cups,
and one of your pots for other tasks.
Regardless, it won't make perfect or even edible rice if you don't know how to use it.
- Rice is not made alike. Cheap rice will have a different consistency
from expensive rice; long-grain is different from short-grain is different from many of
the other specialty strains. Experiment and find your favorite; it may well be the cheap
rice, but you could also gain a taste for sticky rice that you never knew you had.
- Rice-to-water ratios are not made alike, either. Brown rice requires a
very different ratio from white rice to have a similar consistency. Sushi or 'sticky' rice
has the same quirk. Do your homework.
- Rice does not season itself. Unseasoned rice tends to be very bland.
You may like this; odds are you won't. It's wise to add any seasonings you'd like 'cooked
in' (things you'd use like a broth) before you start cooking; anything you'd like 'on top'
(anything you'd like not to be mushy, like sesame seeds) after. Pungent oils and sauces,
like sesame and soy, should probably go after, as otherwise they tend to 'cook out' (more
of the taste ends up in your oven hood than the rice, basically).
- The secret to rice that doesn't turn crunchy and inedible again after an hour:
fats. Put a little butter or oil in before you press 'cook'. Of course, depending
on the type of fat, this will make the rice go 'off' sooner; use your judgment.
- Your local Asian market will likely have rice-specific seasonings.
Things like a mix of salt, seeds, pepper, a bit of MSG ... these are wonderful if you can
afford them. You can improvize; I use a bit of sazon goya (in the latin area of the store)
to make my rice flavorful and colorful. (Surprisingly, the color contributes to the flavor
more than you'd think.) You can make the mix yourself once you've found out what you like;
it's too easy to get the ratios off when making a small 'test' batch of spice, and worth
paying someone else to do it for you.
- Seriously, underseasoned rice can kill a meal. So can overseasoned
rice. Don't underestimate the importance of its flavor and consistency, and don't let a
badly-seasoned batch put you off the staple entirely; you'll know what not to do next
- Don't use metal utensils on the bowl; the paddle is there for a reason.
Don't ever use metal utensils on non-stick surfaces (this applies to breadmakers, too).
Don't soak metal utensils in that bowl when you put it in the sink, either. The plastic
paddle that comes with it will be fine, and won't stick to the rice nearly as badly as a
wooden one. It'll also get into the corners much better.
- If you're having issues with rice sticking to the bottom of the cooker,
turn it off and stir all of the rice as soon as it flips from 'cook' to 'warm'.