How to use a Rice Cooker – Level Three

By now, you should be getting the idea. If it’s a grain, you can make it in the rice cooker. If you can make it in a pot over the stove, you can make it in the rice cooker. If the application requires gentle heat, so much the better. But now, let’s take it one step further.

– Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Rice Cooker – 

Rice cookers are just great for one-pot meals like jambalaya, stir-fried veggies, or sautéed mushrooms. Sure, a big wok might be easier, faster, or more specialized, but there are dozens of reasons why you might not have a good quality wok on hand. Not to worry – the rice cooker performs admirably as a substitute frying pan. 

The one thing you may need to know, depending on your cooker, is how to override the temperature switch. Rice cookers are set to switch off when they go above 212 degrees, because they think the water is evaporated and the ‘rice’ is finished cooking. Depending on what I’m making, I sometimes find it convenient to tape the switch down so that it stays on ‘heat’ instead of moving to ‘keep warm’. KEEP IN MIND that if you do this, you will need to watch your rice cooker carefully. Do not leave the room with the temperature switch taped down, as it no longer functions as a low-temperature only crockpot. I have never had the least bit of trouble with doing this, never felt like the cooker was going to melt down, etc… but use this tip responsibly. Also, be advised that doing this often voids your warranty. Personally, I’m not too worried about the warranty on a 20$ appliance, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

That said, happy cooking! The sky’s the limit!

Here are two recipes to get you started:

Greek Chicken

This is a recipe that my family found several years ago and modified enough that we have been totally unable to locate the original since. Oh well, it’s delicious the way it is, and converts well to Rice-Cooker preparation!

  • Initiate your rice cooker into the cultural tradition that brought us the Acropolis, Homer, and Democracy!

    Salt, Pepper

  • Minced Garlic (1/2 t)
  • Lemon Juice (2T)
  • 3-4 lbs Chicken Breast, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 28 oz can of tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 small can of sliced black olives
  • Oregano 
  • Feta Cheese
  • Cooked Rice

Brown the chicken in olive oil, add in onions and cook until soft. Add garlic, and after a short period of time (don’t let it burn!), add broth, lemon juice, tomatoes, olives, and oregano. Simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through and very tender (I usually let it go for about an hour). Season, serve over rice with feta cheese sprinkled on top. (Serves 4-6)

Fried Rice

The beauty of fried rice is that is a very accepting dish. You need rice, a little oil, and it helps to have an egg. Season with teriyaki sauce, Chinese five-spices, Korean red pepper paste, or, in a pinch, just a little salt and pepper. Once those ingredients are accounted for, you can pretty much throw in any protein or vegetables you have lying around – fresh, frozen, canned, whatever – and produce something edible. 

It’s my belief that every fried rice can, and maybe should, be different. But here’s an example I made this afternoon using things I had lying around in the dorm.

  • Dorm Room Fried Rice at its finest!

    1 cup Rice

  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbsp Ssamjang (Korean garlic/soybean/pepper paste)
  • Small can of Tuna
  • Small can of Peas and Carrots

– (Yes, that’s literally it. Feel free to remove, add, alter as you like!)

Cook the rice as normal in the rice cooker, with perhaps a 1/4 cup less water than normal if you will cook the fried rice immediately after. One rice is finished cooked, add about a tablespoon of oil and switch the rice cooker back to ‘heat’. Stir in an egg quickly so that it cooks as an even coating over the rice. Add seasonings (in this case ssamjang) to taste. Stir in meat and/or vegetables (in this case tuna, peas and carrots). Ready to serve as soon as all the ingredients are cooked! (Serves 1-2)

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