What else can I do with my wonderful rice cooker?
“Oh so much,” says Amy Poon, founder of Poon’s London. “Basically I use my rice cooker as a [not so] slow cooker.” But to better understand what else you can do with it, Jo, you need to start at the beginning and consider how rice cookers work. “They work with weight,” explains Ping Coombes, former MasterChef champion and author of Malaysia “You add water, and as the rice cooks, the water soaks into the grain.” So on that basis, you’re really looking at liquid-based stuff.
Let’s stick with rice for a second though, because there are so many possibilities beyond just steaming it as a side dish. You could, for example, make a risotto, biryani, jambalaya or, as Poon suggests, a “cheater” crock pot rice. “Cut the boneless chicken thighs into small pieces, marinate with potato starch, light soy sauce, white pepper, salt, sugar, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and finely chopped ginger, then mix with Chinese mushrooms (or other ) rehydrated and spread the mixture on top. the rice.” Once cooked, garnish with chopped scallions. Coombes, meanwhile, dials things up a notch with stories of a viral food hack from a few years ago when some leftover fried chicken to go, broth, soy sauce and rice went into a rice cooker. “The crispy chicken softened and was divided into the rice with a tablespoon of butter,” he recalls. “I haven’t tried it myself, but that’s because I rarely have leftover fried chicken.”
Rice cookers come in all shapes and sizes, so to some degree, where you go will depend on which one you have. Some come with a steamer, and if that was the case, Coombes would use it to steam fish and “let all the juices drip onto the rice.” That being said, grains (quinoa, pearl barley, bulgur wheat), legumes (beans, lentils), and even pasta will work wonders in all rice cookers. “Sometimes I make congee there for ease and speed,” says Poon, but you can also try the oatmeal: fruit compote (also made in a rice cooker) is optional, but recommended. “Jo could also use her rice cooker to poach pears in red wine or make jam,” says Coombes.
Eggs are another extracurricular option, particularly the onsen tamago (Japanese poached egg), says Shuko Oda, head chef at Koya in London. “Add cold eggs in the fridge, cover with boiling water and put on ‘keep warm’ mode for 15-20 minutes.” Meanwhile, Woongchul Park, along with Bomee Ki, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind Sollip in London, could make a quick broth or broth, or use their rice cooker to braise lamb or chicken. “Rice cookers also make very good fondue,” says Coombes, adding that it keeps the cheese “at a nice temperature, so it’s warm and melty.” The same goes for chocolate, with fresh fruit, marshmallows, or biscotti for dipping.
Also on the sweet side are cakes (think pineapple upside down or banana bread). “Just cover your rice cooker [with baking paper], then pour in the batter,” Coombes says, though the results will, of course, be more steamed than baked. “People even make brownies in their rice cooker; there really are so many things you can do with them.”
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