A bread-maker makes bread, and ice-cream machine makes ice-cream, but a rice cooker… now tat is no one-trick-pony. When I bought my first rice cooker, I was concerned that I was using up a considerable chunk of my kitchen space on a contraption that basically only boils a bit of rice.
But after several years of being a member of the rice-cooker-appreciation-club (please note, not a real club…), I have discovered that this versatile machine is capable of making so much more than a boring bowl of plain rice. So what can you make?
When electronics companies in Japan first started marketing rice cookers that could be used to make cake, Japanese people were highly unimpressed. As rice purists, they didn’t want anything else sullying the perfection of their rice, and indeed their rice cookers. But these days, many people use rice cookers for baking, and a lot of models even come with a Kēki (cake) setting. My rice cooker is huge – one of the ten-litre ones – so when I tried making cake, it came out pretty flat just because the surface area of the cooker is so big. The mixture moulded perfectly to the shape of the bowl and so the cake has a perfectly smooth crust to it. I used a generic sponge cake recipe and layered the bottom side with sliced apple and maple syrup. The cake was quite heavy but it was moist and sweet. As for cooking time, it took hours. Every time the rice cooker turned off, I went to check and it was still not done, so I just turned it back on from ‘warm’ to ‘heat’ until it was done. So, now that I have an oven to bake in, rice-cooker cake isn’t worth the effort for me. But if you are a cake-lover without an oven, there are tonnes of recipes online for making cake in a rice cooker, including Youtube videos if you need extra guidance. And some of you might even prefer the spongey texture of a rice cooker cake. In any case, it’s tasty!
Here is one of many recipes: https://tasty.co/recipe/easy-rice-cooker-fluffy-cheese-cake
My Japanese friends were pretty surprised by this recipe in general – rice isn’t used in a sweet context here. However, rice pudding is an easy dessert loved in many cuisines across the world, from Middle East to Europe to South America and so on. And it seemed pretty obvious that a rice cooker would be good for cooking rice pudding. With a basic recipe of milk, rice and sugar (with other ingredients to add flavour like cinnamon or whatever you like) it’s a simple recipe and not too difficult to make. I found that it needed stirring a couple of times to make sure that the milk soaked in evenly throughout, but definitely less stirring than a stovetop rice pudding requires. I flavoured my rice pudding with cinnamon and raisins, but you can also serve rice pudding with stewed fruit or add chocolate powder to the mixture. Here is the recipe I followed.
If you’ve ever made stew in a slow cooker before, it’s not hard to see how a rice cooker can do roughly the same thing. You just add chopped ingredient and spices, fill with water or stock and let it cook itself without much supervision. After an initial blast of heat, you can even leave your rice cooker turned on ‘warm’ overnight to give the meat a good, slow cooking until it’s nice and tender and falling apart.
Here’s one recipe: http://pushbuttonkitchen.com/recipes/ricecooker/rc_beefstew.php
Similar to the beef stew process, rice cookers also make great bean stews and chili. If you use uncooked beans you can cook everything long and slow, and if you use precooked canned beans you can throw in a quick dinner with the help of your rice cooker. You can experiment with different veggies and spices to clean out your fridge and always get a tasty result.
Here’s one recipe: https://www.budgetbytes.com/rice-cooker-chili/
This recipe is really easy, and it makes for a healthy meal. Frittata is basically a Spanish omelette. You pre-fry the vegetables and then just put them in your rice cooker with lots of egg mixture, and let it bake. Additional ingredients such as cheese, slices of mini sausages or pieces of ham go well with it. Just remember not to have too many ingredients – if the egg mixture doesn’t cover them properly, it will fall apart when you take it out of the rice cooker. The recipe is listed on this Buzzfeed link.
So there you have it – five things you might not have thought could be made in a rice cooker. Aside from the popular choices of cake and stew, there are all sorts of strange things that can apparently be made in a rice cooker. This article details 21 such options, including bread, salad and risotto.
So, let’s get cooking!