Rice is the most common Asian cuisine and the highest consumed staple worldwide. This is because rice goes with almost everything starting from steak to sushi and even sweet dishes. Rice is an affordable, great quick meal that fulfills your appetite for long periods and doesn’t break the bank. Despite its popularity, it is quite difficult to cook to the desired consistency. A rice cooker can solve this major issue and provide tasty and fluffy rice instead of overcooked and mushy rice. Rice cookers are our kitchen accomplice. Not only does it allow effortless cooking but it also helps to cook rice rapidly and properly.
Rice cookers are a slow cooker that slowly boils the liquid to prepare the rice. These cookers are not limited to cooking only one type of grain. Therefore, all sorts of rice such as black rice, red rice, brown rice, white rice, etc. can be made in a rice cooker. The variety of grains of rice are unique in their ways. While the long grain rice has a fluffy texture, the short grain ones have a sticky one, and the medium-grain has a texture somewhere in between the two. The automated device comprises a heat source, cooking bowl, thermostat, sensors, etc. The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature.
The rice cooker is widely used in most houses since it’s easy to operate and automatic. Rice cooker replaces the traditional cooking methods and makes the time-consuming process very easy. It automates the cooking mechanism by regulating the heating and timing. Thus, the rice is set to operate on its own without the need for monitoring regularly. However there are still things you need to keep in mind when using one, for example, ‘is it okay to open a rice cooker while cooking?’. Using a rice cooker means that there is no need to cook the rice on the stove anymore; this clears up stove space to cook other essential dishes. This means that multiple items can be cooked at the same time. It’s great for those who want to spend less time doing kitchen chores. Especially, if you are a busy person who can’t manage much time for cooking, a rice cooker can come to your aid.
HOW DOES A RICE COOKER WORK?
A Rice cooker is an automatic device that boils or steams rice. Rice cookers pass rice through four different stages: immersing in water, boiling, absorbing water (steaming), and resting. The water and rice are poured into the cooking pan while it is sitting above the rice cooker’s shell. The cooking pan’s weight pushes down the thermal-sensing device and activates it, the heating plate boils the water. The sensing device is a tiny, spring-loaded thermometer that gauges the temperature of the contents of the pan. It’s at the bottom of the rice cooker.
Rice cookers function by transferring heat by thermal conduction. Only the heat flows internally, the substances don’t flow. Water boils at 212 °F (100 °C), and when it reaches a steady boil point, it cannot get any hotter. The temperature remains stable when there is water present in the pot. As the rice keeps absorbing the water from the inner pot, the temperature starts to increase. The thermal device monitors this change and either switch off the rice cooker or activates a low-power warming mode. Therefore, the rice stays at a safe temperature of 65 °C (150 °F). This is when the rice is properly cooked and reaches the resting phase. While at the resting stage, the ice is still warm and can be served.
THE BENEFITS OF A RICE COOKER
Other than perfectly cooking rice, a rice cooker features the ability to cook lots of different dishes too. It is able to prepare both ordinary and exotic dishes and can cook items from breakfast to dinner. Rice cookers can function as slow cookers, steamers, the other models of rice cookers are capable of baking bread, maintaining temperatures for fermentation of bread dough, or yogurt. It is possible to make porridge, oatmeal, quinoa, soups, stews, mac and cheese, cakes, eggs, vegetable frittata, potatoes, steamed vegetables, dumpling, pizza, buns, etc. in an electric rice cooker.
RICE COOKER SAFETY
Rice has been cooked for decades without the help of any appliance. However, you might be the one who needs this useful device. If you are a beginner or have tried but failed to cook rice consistently, get yourself this useful device. You wouldn’t need to worry anymore and also don’t need to throw away your poorly cooked rice. Make sure you keep the instructions in mind and know the answers to questions such as ‘is it okay to open a rice cooker while cooking?’. Enjoy convenient, quick, and perfect cooking with the rice cooker at your disposal. The cooker poses a safety risk as it operates on electricity.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE
- Buy the rice cooker from a good shop and a reputed dealer. Carefully, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Register the rice cooker with the shop. This is for you to fix and replace faulty equipment quickly.
- Make sure the plug type matches with your place. Check the plug and socket often for arcing sound, temperature, and burn marks.
- Ensure your house has RCD (residual current device) in the fuse box (consumer unit). It protects from dangerous electric shock and lowers the risks of electric fires.
- In case your house is not equipped with RCD in the fuse box, install an RCD socket or use an RCD plug for safety.
- Install smoke alarms and heat detectors to monitor and prevent sudden fires.
- During a fire call 911.
SAFE USAGE OF A RICE COOKER
- The rice cooker should be kept far away from shelves, cupboards, curtains, etc. as the escaping steam has chances of spoiling the material.
- Food or water shouldn’t be kept in the electric bowl of the rice cooker.
- Take caution during pouring food or water into the cooker while it’s cooking. Don’t drop food into the boiling water from a long distance. Spills can burn you.
- The power cord and socket should always be dry.
- Never leave the equipment unattended for long periods.
- Switched off everything before dismantling or cleaning. The rice cooker must be dry before use.
- Refrain from immersing the rice cooker in water during cleaning. The base of the cooker is electric; hence it can be only wiped.
- Always switch off after the appliance has been used.
RICE COOKER DO’S AND DON’TS WHEN COOKING
A lot of people consider rice to be one of the simplest dishes to make. Yet it often becomes lumpy and stuck together like glue or paste; this makes the rice tasteless. Just like any other sorts of starchy carbohydrate, the rice must be cooked properly for it to taste good, stored well, be edible, and absorbed well inside the body. Simple things can make a massive difference when it comes to cooking rice. These include the quantity of water, the heat, the cooking duration, etc. The factors can significantly change the taste and the nutrient profile.
Various culinary dishes require rice to be cooked in a particular way – for example, Biryani requires rice in which the grains remain separate from one another, whereas Pongal prefers overcooked soft and sticky rice. You might wonder, is it okay to open the rice cooker while cooking to check on the rice? With a few tips, you can master cooking rice to perfection for any occasion and all sorts of recipes – while keeping its nutrients intact.
Things To Do When Using A Rice Cooker
When cooking in a rice cooker, you should keep the following in mind.
1. Wash the Rice In A Separate Bowl
Wash the rice to remove the impurities, chemicals, and pesticides. This is an important step since the rice becomes healthier and can also absorb more water during cooking. Use cold or tepid water and rub the grains with your hands. Follow this process and change the water until the rice water becomes clear. Now you have to be very careful. Avoid washing rice in the inner pot of the washing machine at all costs. It’s not good for the coating. Do the washing in a separate container or rice-washing baskets.
2. Soak the Rice Before Cooking
It’s highly recommended to soak the rice for maximum nutrition. Some studies show that soaking the rice overnight in five different containers can remove 80% of the harmful toxins present in it. The starches in the rice slowly absorb water due to soaking; this makes them more pliable to heating. This boosts the digestion and absorption time of rice providing better assimilation of nutrients. Remember that different types of grains need to be soaked for different amounts of time.
3. Use the Rice Cooker Spatula
Every rice cooker comes with its own spatula. Try to make it a habit of using this to take your rice, cook, or stir at all times. If you have lost yours then you can buy a spatula from the store.
4. Wipe the Exterior of The Pot Before Powering The Rice Cooker
A wet inner pot can damage the rice cooker’s heating element. Many put the pot over the cooker without even bothering to wipe it dry. This affects the temperature of the rice too. Hence, before you put the rice inside the inner pot ensure the pot is dry.
5. Proportion of Rice
Make sure the amount of water and rice doesn’t exceed the rice cooker’s capacity. The rice and water should be at a 1:2 ratio. Don’t forget to add salt to your rice. This boosts up the flavor profile. If you need to cook more rice in your cooker but your cooker can’t support that much, cook in small batches. This will prevent the water from overflowing and leak into the cooker’s element; thereby, damaging the rice cooker. Cooking small portions also makes the rice nice and fluffy.
6. Cook With the Lid Closed
Is it okay to open a rice cooker while cooking? The lid of the rice cooker should be closed when the rice is cooking. It should be secured tightly so that the steam doesn’t escape and stays in the pot to cook the rice to perfection.
7. Cook White Rice When the Inner Pots Of The Rice Cooker Is Light-grey
It’s better to cook white rice if you have an old rice cooker with light grey inner pots. It is also advisable not to cook oily dishes in such pots since oil usually boils at a different temperature and thus the pot is likely to turn brown. This slowly makes the pot unusable.
8. Add More Flavors to The Rice
To prepare the best rice add butter, ghee, or oil to the rice; this not only helps enhance the flavors but also makes it easier to absorb. To infuse your rice with aroma, throw in some cardamom pods, cinnamon, fennel seeds, mint leaves, etc.
9. Leave the Rice In The Rice Cooker For A While
After the cooking is over, let the rice sit in the rice cooker for around 10 minutes. The heat that is trapped in the rice cooker, helps the rice pop up more. This ensures the rice gets a final fluffy texture.
10. Only Wash the Inner Pot Of The Rice Cooker
Lastly, wash the inner pot using a soft sponge. If the rice has dried out in the pot and is stuck onto it, don’t try to scrub it off instantly. This ultimately spoils the rice cooker. Soak it in warm water, the rice will come out by itself. Then you can clean up the remaining rice with the sponge. Refrain from applying too much force to the inner pot of the rice cooker because this is the part that usually gets damaged quickly.
THINGS TO AVOID DOING WHEN USING A RICE COOKER
Some of the things that you should refrain from doing when cooking in a rice cooker are discussed.
1. Avoid Washing the Rice Inside the Inner Pot
Now you have to be very careful. Avoid washing rice in the inner pot of the washing machine at all costs. It’s not good for the coating. Do the washing in a separate container or rice-washing baskets.
2. Stir the Rice Only Once
At the initial stage, when the rice is first put into the bowl with water, stir it once or twice to keep the grains from sticking to the bottom or clumping together. However, when the rice starts cooking with the lid closed, it’s advisable not to stir it anymore. Opening the lid makes the steam leave the bowl and thus hampers the cooking process and the overall texture of the rice.
3. Don’t Lift the Lid of the Pot
Since you might wonder, ‘is it okay to open the rice cooker while cooking?’, we will tell you that you should never do it. The worst mistake to make in cooking rice is lifting the lid. It results in the release of steam and pressure into the air and affects the cooking process as the temperature inside the pot drops. The rice becomes sticky, starchy, and glutinous. Never open the lid, no matter how tempting it is.
4. Don’t Keep Warm for Too Long
It’s quite unhealthy to keep the rice long for long hours because bacteria start to grow in it. The idea of having moist rice from the pot that was kept for a day is not a pleasant one. The heat is likely to damage the inner pots. The recommended amount of time to keep the rice warm is five hours. If you need to keep it longer, plan to cook again. That’s why cooking in small batches is often a good habit.
5. Refrain from Re-cooking or Reheating Food
Don’t put old rice in the rice cooker and try to cook it again. The rice cooker isn’t programmed to recook the rice. It is only able to cook rice from the start; the weird balance of cooked rice and a small amount of water will only burn the rice. Recooking food also destroys the nutrients in it. Reheating is a much better alternative. Rather than recooking the rice in a rice cooker try heating it in a microwave.
Given the importance of the rice cooker, it would be a shame not to have this important item in our home. If you still don’t have a rice cooker you should hurry up and get yourself one. Try fixing your budget and researching the different rice cookers available in today’s market. This article has already introduced you to the healthiest and safest ways of cooking rice in a rice cooker. By this time, you have also realized that the answer to the question, ‘is it okay to open the rice cooker while its cooking is that it is not; steam is a vital element to our perfect rice cooking journey. Well, now that the article has shed light on you, apply the knowledge to your daily life. So why not go to the kitchen and get practical right away.