Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Secret Affair

I have a confession to make - I’m a little bit in love. He’s short, cute, and has a bit of a belly. He usually keeps things all closed up inside, but sometimes he lets off steam. And he says the cutest little things in Korean.

I’m talking about my new son, right? Well, yeah, I’m in love with him too – but I’m talking about my new rice cooker.

My old rice cooker was cheap but functional. I bought it 20 years ago, at a small appliance store in West Los Angeles that’s no longer in business (I think the store left LA before I did). It cost about 20 bucks and man, I thought that thing was miraculous. How the heck did it know when the rice was done? The whole rice cooker thing, in general, was new to me.

If you don’t have a rice cooker, you may wonder what the big deal is. For me, who tends to use every pot in the kitchen when I cook, the ability to cook rice without using a stovetop burner is incredibly liberating. (This has become even more important now that I have kids and pretty much never use the front burners on my stove – too easy for little fingers to reach). In addition, the rice always comes out so much better than when I try to cook it in a saucepan. After a few uses, I was hooked.

The one drawback to my old cheapo rice cooker was its tendency to burn the bottom layer of rice. We got around this for years by simply unplugging the cooker a soon as the rice was done, but after a while (a long while) I started to think that I deserved better. After all, that burned layer of rice was wasteful, wasn’t it? Even if we got to the cooker in time and it wasn’t totally inedible, it was still stuck to the cooker and we were wasting rice. And then there was the vanity aspect. I am not much for keeping up with the Joneses (or should I say, the Kims?) but for heavens’ sake – I’m over 40, I’m on my second set of good knives (you can’t sharpen them forever, ya know), IT’S TIME TO GET A DECENT RICE COOKER.

And then paralysis set in, once I started to research all the different types of cookers. Fuzzy logic? Is that related to fuzzy math? I’d stand in front of rice cooker displays and my eyes would glaze over. Finally, a friend recommended a brand that is very popular in Korea and (even better) went to Hmart with me to pick one out.

Here it is. I think it is a fuzzy logic/pressure cooker type, but since I still haven’t read the whole manual I’m not too sure:

Isn’t it adorable? It has all these fancy functions, too, for cooking old rice, sushi rice, chicken soup, and multi-cook (which I think is like pressure cooking). The manual came with an English version, but the recipe book did not. So my friend kindly translated a few of the recipes and I have been having sooo much fun learning how to drive this puppy. It makes beef stew in under an hour! AND keeps it hot until you get home! So much better than a crock-pot, in my opinion, which I never really grokked with anyway.

And oh yeah, it makes awesome rice. The best I’ve ever made, anyway. I am blessed with children who think that seaweed and rice is a perfectly acceptable dinner (though they’d prefer if I make some broccoli, too). Since this baby has a timer, I can put the rice in before we leave for swim class, and when we get home, ta dah! Dinner is ready.

A fuuny thing, though, is that my friend who recommended it told me that she hadn’t used many of the fancy-cooking functions –she was only making rice. But now I’ve got her trying out the multi-cook thang, too. I’m not really ready to post a “recipe” because I’m still in the “getting to know you” phase with my rice cooker, but if anyone has some ideas or suggestions for what’s worked in their Cuckoo, I’d love to know.


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen - Your new "lover" sounds owesome!! What brand is it? Where did you get it?? Yijie

Karen said...

Hi Yijie - nice to hear from you!! It's a Cuckoo and I bought it at HMart. What brand do you use?

Y Song said...

Thanks! I heard about the Hmart, have to go sometime. I use Sharp and only for cooking rice, the non-stick surface is starting to peel off, so it's good to know a better alternative!! Great blog, Karen!!

Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

Rice cookers are really the best for cooking rice. They do it so efficiently. I know the one you have and have seen it/heard of it. I've also heard of H Mart! I think we may have one nearby to us, actually!