Dear rice cooker,
You acquisition was no easy feat, no easy feat at all. It required visits to 3 separate stores and a total of 60 minutes of ‘discussion’. Where by ‘discussion’, I mean intense negotiations with the new husband of less than 1 month.
I learned during this shopping experience that there are in fact 2 types of rice cookers out there (a pot on the stove is not a rice cooker).
There’s the Taiwanese rice cooker/steamer, which only has an on/off option, and uses steam and indirect heat to cook its contents:
And then there’s the “all other Chinese people” one, which uses direct heat on the bowl to cook the rice. Note that it also has other built in options, i.e. brown rice, congee, sticky rice, etc:
You, rice cooker, are the latter, evidence that I ‘won’ our little discussion. HA!
This was a classic newly married couple experience. His mom uses the first steamer (the only person I know who owns this type of rice cooker), while my mom uses the second rice cooker. Naturally, I assumed when we began looking for a similar device, that we’d go with the tried and true steamer that I had known all my life. Silly of me to make that assumption. When I commented that I had never seen the steamer before, the salesperson pointed out that it was mostly Taiwanese people that used it. Ah, that would be why the in-laws use it!
- Pros: steam fish/meat/anything while also cooking your rice.
- Cons: aluminum/steel bowl is not non-stick, and there’s no water level marks (you’re supposed to guesstimate the amount of water to use!)
Regular rice cooker
- Pros: non-stick, easy to measure rice/water ratios, multiple cooking options
- Cons: steaming capabilities limited
In the end, we went with the regular rice cooker, as you can see from the picture of the finished rice below. Since the cooking is mostly done by me, it made sense for us to get the device that I preferred. When it comes to the lawn mower or snow blower – well that’ll be his choice then. See, we can compromise!
Sweet Potato/Yam Rice
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
1 sweet potato/yam, diced
1 3/4 cup rice (measured using a rice cooker cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground pork
1 cup water (measured using a regular cup)
5 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water, drained and cut into thin slices)
10 button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil (for cooking)
1 scallion, cut into rounds
2.5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
2 dashes white pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Measure the rice using the small rice cooker cup. Rinse the rice with water, then drain and set aside. (I rinse it 3x – don’t ask me why, my mom’s always done it this way).
Heat up a wok and add cooking oil. Stir-fry the onions until translucent, then add the garlic and stir for another minute. Add button mushrooms and cook until beginning to soften. Add pork, and shiitake mushrooms, breaking up the meat into small lumps. When the pork has browned, add water (measured using a regular measuring cup) and sweet potato cubes. Add all seasonings and bring to a boil. Add rice into the wok and stir to combine. Transfer everything into the rice cooker and follow regular rice cooking instructions (i.e. press Start!)
When the rice is done, loosen it up with the rice scooper and serve with chopped scallions.