Rice Pot Wonders: Now We’re Cookin’

By Stephanie Chen

This piece also ran in the Spring 2009 issue.

One-pot cooking means less mess to clean up, and a rice cooker – for the busy, cheap or lazy student – makes a quick, tasty meal with a click of a button.  While the first commercial model cooker released by Toshiba in 1955 took five years to develop, today’s models range from the basic one-button system to additional high-pressure steam and ultrasonic vibration features.

No need to splurge for the fancy ones though – we know we’re in a recession – because brand name rice cookers sell for as low as $18.  It’s not rocket science either: because they all technically boil water, there’s no need to fuss.  Use the right amount of water for your pasta, ravioli, soup, whatever, and once the rice cooker is set to cook, let it do its thing.  Depending on your cooker, it will shut off automatically or switch to ‘keep warm’ when it’s done boiling off excess water.  So tell Uncle Ben and Rice-A-Roni to step aside – you got this.

Curried Rice and Peas
You’ll Need:
1 can of coconut milk
Jasmine rice
water or chicken stock
a pinch of salt
1 tsp fish sauce
Thai red curry paste, to taste
1 cup frozen peas
Thai garlic chili sauce, to serve

1. Empty the can of coconut milk into the rice cooker, and then fill the can with rice, emptying that into the pot too.

2. Fill the can one more time with either water or chicken stock, adding it to the pot.  If the coconut milk is really thick (like heavy cream consistency), adding no more than another half cup of water wouldn’t hurt.  Sprinkle in the salt, and stir in the fish sauce.

3. Next, mix in a tablespoon of the red curry paste, but only if you like it hot.  If you don’t, then use it in moderation.

4. When the rice cooker begins to steam, add the frozen peas, stirring the mixture so that the curry paste dissolves well.

5. Let the cooker do its thing, and your carbs craving should be cured for at least 12 hours.  You can also toss in shredded chicken breast, if desired.

Apple Rice Pudding
You’ll Need:
1 cup short grain white rice
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
a pinch of nutmeg
4 tbsp butter
1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced

1. Boil three cups of water in the pot, then add the rice, salt, raisins, nutmeg and the apples.

2. Let the cooker do its thing, and when it’s done or switches to ‘warm,’ stir in the condensed milk, vanilla and butter.

3. Let it cook for another cycle if it still has too much liquid for your preference (rice pudding is usually creamy).  The third time should be a charm.  Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon before serving.

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