Rice Cooker - Pro and Con
I was looking throough the thread on kitchen counter appliences and I keep seeing rice cookers listed as an often used appliance. I make all kinds of rice a few times a week, and I have never felt the need for one - a Le Crueset pot of appropriate size always does the job.
That said - I am always open to a new food related purchase . I fought electric skillets for years until someone bought me one and now I can't imagine life without it.
So----why do I need a rice cooker and if i get one what am I looking for?
Well, they free up a space on the cook top, time themselves, and keep their contents edible for quite a while. However, mine produces a thin layer of singed rice at the bottom which is unusable and a nuisance to clean. Also the pot cannot go in the d-washer.
On balance, if you are cooking for 8+ I reckon they make sense. Not so sure otherwise
My microwave rice cooker is brilliant.
re: Robin Joy
i would guess you are doing something wrong, or your rice cooker is not adjusted properly. one of the great laments of people about using a rice cooker is that you never get that layer of "koge" rice (pronounced co-gay, more or less a cross between toasted/carmelized). It is considered a treat in traditional asian homes, and often put into a cup of tea to add a toasted flavor.
I've mentioned this in other threads but I got a rice cooker (Zojirushi) as a gift and it sat in the box for 2 years. I used to make rice, occasionally, and it was okay. When I finally decided to try the rice cooker, I couldn't believe that I waited so long to start using it. I now find reasons to make rice! We happen to like short grain/sushi rice, and it comes out perfect every single time.
And mine is a breeze to clean. Put the bowl in some warm water with some soap, and it wipes clean in an instant. Love it!
Con is it takes up some space that isn't already taken up.
Pro is just about everything else. I cook for only two people (plus a bit for the dog) on a regular basis and my 5-cup capacity Panasonic fuzzy logic cooker is excellent. It makes long grain, short grain, brown and sushi rice effortless. It makes a wonderful congee (rice porridge) and can do a lovely job with oatmeal. It can be setup ahead of time and left until I hit start or programmed to start at a specified time. It can keep the rice warm and at the right texture, literally for hours after its cooked. It can be used to reheat cooked rice and also to steam just about anything. With my model, the pot can and does go into the dishwasher though its also very easy to clean by hand if the dishwasher is full.
So, bottom line for me is that there's no actual _need_ for a rice cooker. Rice can be cooked perfectly well in a pot and everything else a rice cooker can be used for can be done in other things. But, it also makes one part of a meal totally effortless which I always like.