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Feb 28, 2008 11:52 AM

How To Use Rice Cooker

I inherited a rice cooker, and have never used one, and it doesn't have a manual. I use it for steaming veggies all the time mostly. But how do I steam rice. Just put dry rice in a bowl? Help!

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  1. Do rice cookers come with manuals? I guess they must since everything else does. In any case, use the same proportion rice to water/liquid as you would use normally and add both to bowl. Turn on. Leave alone.

    As for the actual proportions, well, I guess that's a different story. I grew up learning that you fill up enough water 'til it reaches the first tops of the top of the first bone of your index finger - somehow, that always worked no matter who was cooking the rice. Ming Tsai, I believe, recommends putting enough water so that it comes up to the top of your hand when you lay it flat upon the submerged rice. Either method is sorely unscientific but works for reasons I cannot discern. :)

    And I don't believe in salt in rice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ali

      I use the same method as Ali. I always rinse the rice as well to remove the starch. Makes it more fluffy and easier to prepare fried rice the next day if there are any leftovers. The starchy white water that is removed from the rinsing is good to use to water household plants or out in the garden.

      1. re: scoopG

        Awesome tip, my garden thanks you!

    2. when we buy big bags of rice, there is usually a little plastic cup inside. i think this is one cup. however many of these cups you use should correspond to the water level inside the removeable compartment in the rice cooker. so basically, three cups of rice, rinse thoroughly, then fill with water to the 3 line. press button and wait till it pops up and the light if there is one goes to the 'keep warm' setting. fluff and enjoy.

      1. So the rice and water go in the bottom, right next to the heating element? Not sitting above on the rack?

        15 Replies
        1. re: scuzzo


          Are you missing the bowl? Every rice cooker I've seen has a removable bowl that's fitted to the machine. (Not that I've seen a ton) The rack is just for steaming vegetables.

          1. re: Dmnkly

            Yeah, there should be a removable bowl.

            And different rices need different proportions of water -- eg. regular white, sticky white, brown, etc. I use the line measurements that are given in my removable bowl, but not every bowl has those.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              I guess I don't have the bowl. This cooker has a center post that heats. Does the bowl go around that, shaped like an angel food pan? Can I put a bowl above on the steaming tray? Was wondering if I put water below and dry rice in a bowl above to steam it...

              BTW, thanks for everyone's help so far!

              1. re: scuzzo

                Well, the rice definitely needs to be mixed with water. You can't just steam it. And even if you set a bowl of rice and water on the steaming rack, it isn't going to get hot enough to cook. You need a metal bowl properly fitted to be in contact with the heating element. Even if it did <i>work</i> in some fashion, it isn't going to have that careful heat control that produces good rice, thereby defeting the purpose of using a rice cooker in the first place. Without the bowl, you're out of luck, and I don't advise trying to jury-rig something for safety reasons. It's easy to do rice in the microwave or on the stove, though. A quick internet search will turn up plenty of instructions.

                1. re: Dmnkly

                  So a rice cooker bowl is metal and donut shaped to go around the heating element?

                  1. re: scuzzo

                    In truth, I've never seen one with a donut-shaped bowl and a heating element running up the middle, but I'm presuming that's what you have.

                    Might be time to post a photo somewhere :-)

                    1. re: Dmnkly

                      It looks sort of like this. The bottom white plastic portion has a metal post in the center about one inch in diameter and three inches high. The water boils against that center post creating steam. There are two rings that go above for steaming.

                      Sorry this whole thing might not be worth all this effort. No on in my family ever used a rice cooker!

                      1. re: scuzzo

                        that is just a plain steamer. we have one just like it and ours comes w/ a solid plastic tray used for saucey stuff. i've never thought to use it for rice as i don't think it could ever get hot enough. steamed rice is actually boiled, not steamed. though sticky thai rice is soaked in water, drained and then steamed.

          2. re: scuzzo

            Yeah, there should be a removable bowl - putting water directly on the heating element is likely to at the very least ruin the rice cooker.

            I just do the normal 2:1 proportions and don't pay too much mind to the lines on the side of the bowl. All the rice cooker is doing is bringing it up to a boil and then reducing to a simmer, like you would if you manually did it on the stove. Sometimes I'll throw in stock, butter, oil, spices, whatever, again, just as if its being done on the stove.

            Also, as noted above, rinsing the rice first is a great idea.

            Edit: As Miss Needle points out, different rices use different proportions, as well as the amount of rice being made.

            1. re: scuzzo

              I'm pretty confused about the configuration of your rice cooker, I think. As far as I know, rice cookers are pretty useless sans bowl, so how have you been using yours if you didn't have a bowl? I mean, doesn't the rack go inside the bowl so that you have water to steam with?

              I am so fascinated...

              1. re: Ali

                This device is a plastic bowl with a metal post dead center. You put water in the base, it boils against the center metal post. Plastic racks with a lid sits above for steaming. Obvious use is for steaming stuff, but I was told it was a rice cooker when given to me, so I was confused how to cook rice with it...and still am! Maybe it's not for cooking rice.

                1. re: scuzzo

                  I think that the person who gave it to you probably got similar information or else ate sticky rice, aka short grained rice, which can be steamed. Regular long grain rice isn't steamed, though I think it might be possible if you soak it for a long time or something? Not worth it when doing it on the stove top doesn't take nearly as long as any soaking period.

                  In any case, that sounds like a steamer unit to me.

                  1. re: scuzzo

                    okay, found an online manual for the steamer we have at home...i believe it's similar to what you have and lo and behold on page 7 there are instructions to cook do need that little plastic bowl that i mentioned earlier however.


                    1. re: soypower

                      That's a different brand, that's the product I have! Thanks for finding the manual. I learned a lot. I also was wondering if I could "steam" hardboiled eggs, which you can!

                      Thanks a ton!

                      1. re: scuzzo

                        i was excited too to see the method for hardboiled eggs...i never read our manual either and always wondered what those holes were for. :o)

              2. Many Modern rice cookers look similar to this Zojirushi model


                While simple ones look similar to this Panasonic model. This one also has a removable bowl although it is not shown.


                Some old style cookers look like the Panasonic but do not have a removable bowl, instead the bowl is built in to the cooker.

                1. Another recipient of an inheritance - me - a Kitchen Gourmet 3-Cup Rice Cooker.

                  Looks pretty cheap but functional.

                  Here's my questions -

                  why would anyone use such a device when they can cook rice in a non-stick pot in the same time? I don't get it.

                  I cook white and/or white basmati rice (1/2 to 1 cup at a time, 1 to 1 1/2 rice to water ratio) in 15 to 20 minutes, when done, uncover the lid and place a paper towel over the top and cover the lid again to absorb the moisture. Works most of the time.

                  With this rice cooker, the lid has a steam vent, so right there, the cooking process is going to be different. With part of the steam leaving during the cooking process, is this going to result in nonsticky rice? I prefer separated kernels.

                  The container for the rice is made of aluminum. Do I have to coat the inside with oil to keep the rice from sticking?

                  I understand that somehow even this cheap $9.99 cooker is supposed to switch from the "cooking" mode to the "warm" mode when it ascertains that cooking is done.

                  There is a spring surrounding the inner heater core which appears to be weight sensitve, so I guess it is calibrated to spring up when there is a specific change in weight difference (as occurring when all the water is boiled off.

                  This cooker is marked as consuimg 300 watts. When I first looked at it, it impressed me as nothing more than a hot plate with a pan for cooking grains.

                  I do struggle with using small pots for larger amounts of rice that come out with separated kernels - the mixture seems to be more sticky than the smaller amounts I make. I'd guess it has to do with less room for the steam to circulate.

                  Is there an advantage of having the steam vent as this cooker has? I was told to not lift the lid until cooking is done but with this cooker, the vent provides leakage throughout the cooking process.