Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to Make the Most of your Rice Cooker

If you live in Asia and have access to electricity, you probably have a rice cooker ... that wonderful gadget where you put in the rice and water, plug in, turn on, and it makes perfect rice and keeps it warm until you want to eat it. But that's just the beginning of what you rice cooker can do. Let's start with leftovers. These can be reheated in the rice cooker as you cook a pot of rice. Simply put them in the steamer basket - most rice cookers come with one - over the rice, before closing and turning on the rice cooker. When the rice is ready, so will the leftovers be, and piping hot too. If your leftovers are sloppy, they may drip through the holes in the steamer basket and flavor your rice. You can avoid this by putting them on a small plate or bowl that fits in but doesn't fill the steamer basket. Secondly, dumplins. The Better Homes & Gardens cookbook has a great dumplin recipe that is designed to be cooked in a covered pot, resting on top of chicken that is simmering in broth. Why shouldn't this work in a steamer basket? Well, I've tried it, and it works great! 1 cup flour, 2 t baking powder, 1/4 t salt, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup milk, 2 T cooking oil. Combine the four, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. If desired, you can also add 1/4 t dried oregano. In another bowl (or measuring cup), beat the egg, milk, and cooking oil; add to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork till just moistened. Drop dough in globs directly onto the steamer basket, or use a small baking pan that fits in the steamer basket. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the dumplins comes out clean. Most rice cookers will automatically stop active steaming when you open them (at least mine does). Don't get burned! Last but not least, brownies! If, like us, you happen not to have an oven at the moment, you can still enjoy cakelike brownies. Simply buy a steamed brownies mix at your nearest Indonesian or Malaysian grocery store, follow the directions, and steam it in your rice cooker. I don't steam brownies over rice, but I add enough water to cook about 5 cups of rice, since the brownies need to steam for a total of an hour with the mix I use. Adjust as necessary. You can line the steamer basket with waxed paper (being careful not to cover ALL the holes), or use a small brownie pan (which might not hold all your batter).

No comments: