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seeking rice cooker advice

  • c

My cheap ol’ Salton 3-cup capacity rice cooker has expired. Again. I liked this little thing because of the price (15 bucks) and because it made adequate rice (not bad, but not terrific). But since this is the second time that it has died on me mid-way through the rice cooking process, I am saying goodbye to this brand forever! And I am ready to move on to a more advanced level of rice cooking, like porridge and rice cooked with other things in the rice cooker, and am aware that this will set me back more than a teeny 15 bucks. What kinds of rice cookers do others have? Any advice is much appreciated.

P.S. I know this has been discussed before, but all the threads I find are dead-end 4-0-4s.

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  1. I had a 3 cup Zojirushi that I used to use all the time. Perfect rice every time, and kept hot and ready to eat with no loss in quality for hours. Last year my daughter took it to college and I still miss it...

    12 Replies
    1. re: ironmom

      Zoji makes the best rice cookers and breadbakers; I guess they want to cover all grains....

      1. re: Karl S.

        Where would I find it?
        I don't remember ever seeing this brand. I'm in the market for a new rice cooker too and would like to consider it.

        1. re: Maria

          I too would advise the zojirushi brand , we have a rather large (12 cup) model and it has made perfect rice every single time and kept it warm and moist for hours . As for finding one , do you live in a city with any decent asian markets ? If you do , a good size market should carry them , or one of the comparable brands mentioned before . If exploring asian markets sounds like a hassle , I just did a search on Google and got innumerable links to retailers , both online and regular stores . They are certainly pricier than $15 , but in the long run they are worth it , especially if you eat a lot of rice . * As a bonus , they make great sticky rice for sushi ;)

          1. re: Maria

            Mine came from Broadway Panhandler, they have a website and toll free number, located in NYC. I love my 12 cup one as well. It's the most used kitchen gadget we own.

            1. re: Maria

              The Japanese like their toys to have all the bells and whistles on them.

              Link: http://www.winghopfung.com/winghopfun...

              Image: http://store1.yimg.com/I/winghopfung_...

              1. re: Maria

                I am leaning toward the Zojirushi (so much support for this one to the exclusion of other brands). Sunpowerusa.com sells the 5-cup fuzzy logic for 129.00, which is much cheaper than I found anywhere else (see link below). The National/Panasonic brand seems generally much cheaper. Anyone have any experience with these?

                Link: http://www.sunpowerusa.com/zojheallif...

                1. re: Carrot

                  Hey Carrot -- Like most kitchen items, the "best" choice is a distinctly individual thing. How you'll be using your rice cooker makes all the difference. Will you really need the super-fancy bells and whistles like a timer and neuro fuzzy logic (that theoretically corrects for humidity, quantity of water added, age of rice, yadda yadda)? What quantity of rice will you be cooking most often? Is the Iron Chef wow factor an important consideration?

                  I've got one of those deluxe fuzzy Zojirushi's and to be perfectly honest it really annoys me. I've determined after about a couple of years that I don't need my rice cooker to think -- for some reason it takes quite a long time to cook the most basic pot of rice. Evidently it has to warm up first while mulling over (using its fuzzy logic) all of the ambient conditions before it will deign to start cooking. The only reason I've still got it is because I invested too much in it just to toss it. Besides, it makes for interesting kitchen conversation as I tell people how much the thing bothers me. (The thing I really hate is the jook that it makes. It's not rice porridge, it's wallpaper paste.)

                  Anyway, I've delivered this rant before. Below is the link to a long previous discussion on rice cookers that might be of help. Whichever one you get, enjoy!

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            2. re: ironmom

              Just another person chiming in for Zojirushi.

              My Chinese husband cooks almost solely Chinese cuisine and also I think he would rather buy a Chinese brand if there was a good one, but nothing yet beats the Japanese brands. Oh, and we think nothing beats Japanese rice either so that (and genmai) is the only thing we have ever cooked in ours, I dont know about making other stuff.

              We bought our Zojirushi last year in Manhattan Chinatown, I think the store was on Canal on the left as you are walking to (or past?) Bowery from the east.

              But we have seen them other places, I bet Kam Kuo (jing guo or kin koku or money country, depending on your dialect) big grocery store on Mott has some, and we've seen them other random places walking through Chinatown.

              However, even the models here, while good are not as good as the rice cookers for sale in Japan. (like all electronic appliances!) It's like they send us their surplus 1980's models.

              I was thinking about buying one there and bringing it here but someone advised me not to. He said that the converter takes up lots of electricity. Can anyone out there confirm or deny this?

              1. re: Kujira

                Here's what I did: I had an electrician convert an outlet in the kitchen to 220 and change the plug on my electric teakettle to the standard one.

                1. re: ironmom

                  Japan runs at 100v and 50 or 60 Hz depending where you are in Japan. Normally no voltage converter would be needed. You need a voltage converter for UK and European equipment. UK stuff runs at 60 Hz whereas most European countries used the German 50Hz model.

                  A split 120V receptacle can be changed to 240V. A UK electrical kettle will work on this as it is not particularly sensitive to frequency. Also you will see some European equipment is rated 220-240V and 50/60 Hz.

                  Replacing a split 120 with 240 V will be a code violation in most kitchens in the US. As a minimum it would need to be protected with a ground fault interrupter.

                  Some equipment is auto-sensing and can be used 100 to 240V. Commonly laptop computers, game machines, TVs etc are like this. Some have a flick switch to alter voltages. Just don't forget it.

                  IronMom
                  I do not understand what you meant by 'standard one'. I trust you do not mean you fed 240V into a standard 120V receptacle with two vertical slots for the neutral and live pins). That is seriously dangerous. The receptacle should have two horizontal pins.

                  ie:The pin layout should look like this: http://www.garvinindustries.com/image...

                  and not either of these: http://www.hometips.com/articles/suns...

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    Just to give a little bit more information about the voltage issue which Paulustrious mentioned above. The power supply in the UK is actually the same as mainland Europe - 220-240v and 50hz - the UK government standardised our power with Europe back in the 1990's, so we are all the same...the only difference is the plug used between countries.

                    The problem with voltage conversion using a transformer (as our electrician has told us) is that it's fine to use a step-up/down transformer when the hz cycle is the same, however when the hz cycle is different then this is when the problems start.

                    The transformer only converts voltage and if you are using a 60hz machine on 50hz power or vice versa, then eventually it will break/burn out. We have had several customers who this has happened with when they bought a Zojirushi from the US and used it with a transformer in Europe.

                    Anyway...back to the original question! Zojirushi's consistently gets the best reviews of rice cookers, the durability and build quality are legendary!

                    1. re: Yum Asia

                      Whoops - sorry. I've been out of the UK for too long. I should check up before I pontificate.

            3. Assuming you live in a major city or near one, I would advise you to go to Chinatown or a Chinese market and buy a machine there. That's what I do when I have to replace a rice cooker, and I tend to prefer the ones that have 'fuzzy logic'. The brands are things like Haier, Panda, and Tiger (the last one is Taiwanese, I think). All work great.

              1. OK, am I the only one left who still cooks rice in a saucepan? I've always found that, if I get the proportions right, keep the heat low, turn it off when the rice is done, and let it rest for a few minutes, the rice turns out just fine and doesn't stick to the pan. Please excuse my ignorance: I understand that the rice cooker will turn off the heat for you, but are there any other real advantages?

                8 Replies
                1. re: C. Fox

                  I think the advantage is, pour rice in, pour water in, turn on and go back to making the rest of your dinner. We do a lot of Southeast Asian cooking and stir frys. It's a nice added convenience to not have to worry at all about the rice. If you don't make a lot of rice, there is no reason to have a rice cooker. It's not really worth the money.

                  1. re: LisaLou

                    We do make a lot of rice, though; we do a lot of Chinese- and Japanese-style dishes, and also a fair bit of Indian cooking (how's the rice cooker for Basmati?) Thing is, I lust unreasonably after a Zojirushi, and am trying to justify the expense. Talk me into it!

                    1. re: C. Fox

                      I think it does a wonderful job on Basmati. We primarily use Jasmine rice from Thailand, the poor man's Basmati. It also works well for medium grain rice. It sounds like you make rice a lot. It's worth the investment.

                      1. re: C. Fox

                        I've sometimes seen Zojirushis at HomeGoods, Cfox...

                        1. re: galleygirl

                          Really the best thing is to convince someone else to buy one for you. We got one as a wedding gift so I don't have to feel guilty. Perhaps you have a relative that could oblige for birthday, christmas, chanukah or kwanza?

                          1. re: LisaLou

                            Now you're talking (sez the cheapskate). I do have it on my Amazon wish list, but so far no one's taken the hint. Clearly I'm going to have to be a wee bit more blatant. ;->

                            1. re: C. Fox

                              It's too bad Amazon doesn't sell groceries as well. You could eliminate everything on your wish list but the rice cooker and various 20 lb bags of nice rice.

                              I also would be tempted to say things like, "I'm sorry the rice is burnt/sticky/underdone. I'm hoping one day to have a rice cooker so we'll have perfect rice everytime." This would be said regardless of how well the rice actually turned out.

                              Sorry, my mother used to cut pictures out of catalogs and make a list for my father so he'd get the hint. So I have a dozen schemes for dropping present hints.

                    2. re: C. Fox

                      I think you would be surprised at the number of people who can't seem to cook rice. Once you get the visual water height, it is really a piece of cake. I use the rice cooker for large quantities, when I don't want to be bothered with paying attention. Usually, I make a cup in a saucepan, and have rice for four. Use the Chinese measure...the water (or broth) should be the height of the first finger knuckle(about 3/4 inch).

                    3. I'm on my fourth or fifth rice cooker...got an Aroma brand from Costco. Works great, has two steam trays...very handy. I think it was about $25-30.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jim H.

                        could you part with a few of your favorite recipes for your Aroma cooker. I just bought an 8 cup model with the steamer basket. Thanks!

                      2. for what it's worth, after my last cheapo rice cooker died on me, took a tip from my mother and picked up a plastic microwave rice cooker for $8.

                        So far has been working quite well.