Though over the years we’ve spoiled ourselves with conveniences—from stand mixer to mini-chopper, there aren’t a lot of kitchen appliances we couldn’t live without. But I don’t know what we’d do without our “Fuzzy Logic” rice-cooker. We bought ours in Chinatown in 2001. 10 years, several countries, and 8 moves later, it’s still churning out perfect rice.
Right, you’re looking at me funny—rice? seriously? What is there to rice?
But if you’ve ever wondered at the fluffy, whole, every-grain is separate rice at that one nice Chinese restaurant you go to, you might have wondered what their secret was. And it was probably one of these babies.
Tazim and I are rice maniacs. We scout out different varieties. Make it with saffron or coconut milk. Eat it for breakfast as congee or idli, and at lunch and dinner. We worship our rice-cooker. We do drag it everywhere. Even—I’m embarrassed to admit—sometimes camping. We once blew a fuse in a remote mountain backpackers hut. Thankfully, the rice was already done.
To be honest, I’m a little fuzzy on how the fuzzy logic sensor works. But I know what it does—it’s a computerized cooking system that controls the temperature and cooking time so that your rice, whether short grain or long, wild or jasmine, turns out perfectly every time. What it does is magic.
I don’t know if a deserted island would have a plug in, but if not I’d rig up some sort of pedal-powered generator. I’d cycle for hours to get fresh rice.
This Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is the updated 10-years-in-the-future version of ours (from $150). There are other good brands on the market, from Panasonic to Tiger—but Zojirushi has a repuation as being the best. Whatever you do, don’t be fooled into thinking the cheap single-lever ones work the same—in general they’re worse than a watched pot on the stove. If you have cash to burn, consider one like this, that can also cook rice at pressure—these make short work of brown rice, and can cook regular rice in as little as 16 minutes!
Of course, you don’t need a rice cooker to make perfect rice. Here are the five-steps to perfect rice, as taught to us by Mom
1) Select a fresh, quality, non-instant product. Instant rice turns to mush
2) Wash your rice! Run cold water over it, then stir it around with your hands. Remove any ugly grains or stray stones. Pour out the water. And repeat the process until the water runs off clear
3) If you think ahead, soak your rice before you cook it. 40 minutes is about perfect
4) Cook the rice in a thick-bottomed pot with good heat distribution—this way it won’t stick as much, and will cook evenly
5) Don’t move the rice! Stirring it around or otherwise maltreating it during the cooking process will just break it.