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Rice Steamer. Worth buying?

I have been looking at electric rice steamers.

I want to make rice more often but frequently I don't get home early enough to mess with cooking rice ahead of a meal. I make brown rice more than white rice, is there an issue with making this in a steamer? Can other things like lentils and yellow peas be cooked in these?

Some of the models I looked at had timers and hold settings. Do these produce a decent product?

The big question, if you have one do you use it all the time or did it become a doorstop?

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  1. Growing up in an Asian household, we've always had a rice cooker in our house and we used it everyday for different uses. In college, i would use a personal sized one to make soup and stew, instant ramen, even to steam things. The models these days (although admittedly somewhat pricey) can do both brown rice and white rice and can take the addition of lentils and peas. (we add beans to our rice from time to time)

    Shopping at an asian store might be your best bet, if you live near one, as they have a good variety. Look for one that has fuzzy logic. I set mine up in the morning and come home to a nice meal with rice in the evening.

    1. Alton Brown talks about not buying uni-taskers. A rice cooker can do more than one thing, but are you likely to do the other things?

      OTOH, I talk about frequency -- which, at a guess, is what Mr. Brown is really referencing. I don't keep mine on my counter, but it's readily accessable. It's *really* easy to use -- put the stuff in there, set it, and, uh, forget it. I don't use mine for brown rice because I prefer the texture of pressure cooked brown rice.

      Timers are great if you want it ready as soon as you get home. But you could measure the rice (rinse, drain, and put in the refrigerator) and water separately out before you leave the house, toss it in the cooker when you get home, and you'll have fresh rice in about 25 minutes or so.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Richard 16

        I saw a recipe in Fine Cooking for making brown rice like pasta - add rice to a pot full of boiling water, boil until tender and drain. It was faster than steaming and they said better. I put the rice on as soon as I get home and usually have to race to finish making the rest of the meal before it's done. 20 minutes is not that long.

      2. Here's a recent thread on rice cookers you might find helpful:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/409207

        And to directly answer your question, I use my rice cooker to cook all kinds of grains--wild rice, oatmeal, etc. I use it to steam frozen potstickers, fish, vegetables. They can be very flexible.

        ~TDQ

        2 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          What a great idea to steam to frozen potstickers! Do you set them on the little steamer plate? How much water do you use?

          1. re: Jane917

            Yes, it put them on the steamer tray. Oh golly, the quantity of water is hit or miss. Not so much water that it takes too long to reach temp, but not so much water that it boils forever. I don't know, maybe a cup? As a starting point, I would just use the same amount you would use if you were going to steam them stovetop and then you can experiment from there. You still have to time it the way you would stove top--you can't let the rice cooker time itself in this case.

            Another thing I steam in my rice cooker is banana cake.

            ~TDQ

        2. Here's another recent thread on a high end model.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/416862

          1. I love my rice cooker. Now, I am asian, so it was a daily appliance in my household. I still use mine two or three times a week for both white and brown rice - sometimes even red rice or black rice cooked in coconut milk for a great dessert. If you use stock instead of water for the rice , add some frozen veggies and you have pilaf. My mom is actually able to steam certain chinese meat dishes and egg custard on top of the rice (on a rack of course) and time them so the rice and the meat is cooked at the ame time.

            If you're looking at one with a timer and hold settings, you can actually get your rice ready in the morning and by the time you come home you can just find protien and vegetables in the fridge and you're ready to go. As fudisgud mentioned, go to an asian grocery store and look for one with Fuzzy logic. I've seen some nice stainless steel ones that can do everything - even baking cakes!