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About Those Automatic Rice Cookers and other countertop appliances... [moved from General Topics]

The subject of counter space and rice cookers was touched upon briefly in the "Do You Measure" thread, and it set me off... So rather than respond there and have the Mods have to subdivide the thread, I thought I would be nice and just start the new thread myself.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that plain rice in Chinese restaurants -- and any other restaurant that serves "white rice" that isn't pressed into "sushi" (I use the word advisedly) -- just plain sucks since automatic rice cookers became universal? I cannot understand why anyone would buy one when it is so very easy to make rice in a pan the old fashioned way. And then there is the even easier guaranteed-no-scorch way of just tossing it in a huge vat of boiling water and pouring it into a colander after it's done. You can test grains for doneness just like pasta. No fail, no scorch! For me, an electric pencil sharpener makes a lot more sense than an automatic rice cooker! I wouldn't want to go back to sharpening my pencils with a pocket knife (usually my grandfather's) but I damn sure would like to have decent rice universally available again! And I don't think rice has changed. It's those humongous counter filling devices that are used in restaurants and now, more and more in homes. Why? Or is this just me?

And I will freely admit that my MUST HAVE automatic air filtering deep fat fryer sits on a pantry shelf collecting dust. No, I haven't given up French frying. Just do it the easy way in a sauce pan with a slotted spoon, a thermometer and a stack of paper towels. Works GREAT....! I think it must be about time to move the deep fryer to the garage to live in the big cardboard box with the automatic pasta machine. Please, God, let me resist the Sous Vide Supreme...! (I think?)

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  1. I'll speak for myself and say that I simply would not want to live without my rice cooker. I can make rice stovetop just fine, but I simply like the convenience of measuring, and forgetting about it. When I make sushi at home, it always comes out perfectly in the rice cooker, stovetop, not so consistent (and yes, I know it's my fault, entirely.) I like the set it and forget it process of the rice cooker, but I do treat the different rice varieties VERY differently, so they retain their characteristics when made in the rice cooker. I have noticed that some of my Chinese food joints' plain white has all tasted exactly the same, and tastes like it's been held for far too long resulting in a blob of mushier than should be allowed rice.

    As for the deep fryer, I like them for use outside. I still use mine probably as much as you use yours, but when I do, I use it outside to avoid deep fry funk in the house that the vent doesn't get out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      I like my deep fryer. It is a DeLonghi and has heavy washable filters. You can't smell a thing when you are frying, though, sometimes I am lazy and just use a wok. That you can smell.

      Rice cookers? Eh. I've been making rice for so long it is the last appliance I'd spend money on. If I was give one, I might give it a try but I'd probably donate it.

      1. re: Candy

        That was exactly how I felt about rice cookers until we went on vacation and stayed in an apartment that had one. Amazon had mine on the doorstep the day after we got back.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          And YOUR story is why I bought my little $15 one which I really like.

    2. We're super busy from 3pm-7 or 8 pm. I love making dinner, having it ready in my crockpot and serving it over rice from the rice cooker, with no work. Instant satisfaction walking in the door. Growing up in an asian household, everyone has always had them--since the 70's, nothing new. OTOH, I've never opened our deep fat fryer and it's going on 15 years old now (my husband won't let me get rid of it because it was a gift).

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        reminds me of a friend who bought a 'fry daddy' many years ago. the thing is he used it. almost every day. he just adored tater tots, it was his one big vice. he would come home, turn it on, and a few minutes later dump in his tater tots. whatever he was serving for dinner would always be accompanied by tater tots. I would never use a deep fat fryer, but far be it from me to tell someone else not to have one.

      2. Sorry Caroline, on most things I agree with you but this time not so much. Rice was one of the first things I ever learned to make. I think I was like 8 or 9. I can still make good rice in a pot on the stove, but it is not better than what comes out of a rice cooker. If you are going to chinese restaurants that can't make decent rice no matter what the reason, its time to find a new chinese (japanese, korean, etc) restaurant. Thats like going to an italian restaurant that can't make decent pasta. Fine japanese restaurants making incredibly fussy sushi use rice cookers - places like nobu and morimoto. they are not messing around with pots on the stove in the back.

        As far as home use goes I suppose it all depends on how often you use it. For a LOT of people in Hawaii rice is served at every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As one of my friends used to tell me, "if there's no rice, it's a snack, not a meal." And I don't know one single person here that doesn't own a rice cooker. yes, I have made toast in a cast iron skillet, i have made coffee in an old saucepan, and I have stood there fine dicing meat for salsbury steak by hand. Glad i did it - once. I don't think people are going to give up their toasters, coffee makers or food processors. I'm not gonna give up my rice cooker either. It's easy, it makes great rice every time, and I don't have to watch it. As they say, set it and forget it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Yes, a special treat for my father, still, is that he can set his rice cooker and have rice any time of day, whenever he wants.

        2. Cooked a nice batch of barley in the rice cooker last night to go with the fall apart chuck roast that I cooked in the crockpot. I've been using rice cookers for so long I just don't care to go back to the pot on the stove. Sometimes "set it and forget it" is the best way to go.

          1. No rice cooker, psssst Caroline, don't tell anyone, but I've never used a crock pot, much less a pasta maker or a deep fryer. ) Gimme back my Stanley Waterford wood cook stove! Cooking, warmth and a constantly on bread oven.
            It's hard to be a living anachronism in 'Merica today.
            DumKeg the Neo-Luddite
            I do love my pressure cookers, however.