(BPT) – You’ve probably experienced this — you’re making rice for dinner, but when you cook it on the stovetop it comes out hard and undercooked, dry and burnt or overcooked and mushy — or just tastes blah. But when you’ve enjoyed rice served in Asian restaurants or homes, the rice is always the right texture and tastes amazing. What is their secret? You might think it’s the type of rice, but the key to successful rice is how it’s cooked: in a rice cooker.
Rice cookers are as common in Asian kitchens as toasters in American households, for one crucial reason: They ensure that rice is cooked perfectly every time, with delicious taste, fragrant aroma and perfect texture — and even better, they’re very easy to use.
Here are tips to help you cook perfect rice from the experts at Zojirushi, the number one selling high-end rice cooker brand in the U.S.
1. Store it right
You may think of rice as a pantry staple that lasts forever, but rice can get stale, affecting its taste. For optimal freshness, store in an airtight container or bag in your refrigerator. It’s also best not to purchase more than you can use in a month.
2. Measure precisely
Follow your rice cooker’s instructions and use the provided measuring cup to ensure the correct ratio of water to rice. Fill the provided measuring cup to overflowing, then use a wide spatula or knife to level it off. Don’t shake the cup or pack rice tightly, which can add more rice than intended. When adding water to your rice cooker after rinsing the rice, set the inner cooking pan on a flat surface and watch the water level lines as you adjust the amount of water. Rotate the pan so the rice collects in the center. Shake gently until the rice levels out and set it in the rice cooker.
Note: There are different water level lines for different types of rice, so be sure to use the correct one.
3. Rinse rice gently
You’ll also see better results if you rinse the rice gently a number of times before cooking, draining the cloudy water each time. This reduces excess starch, which helps keep grains separate and prevents clumping. Rinse the rice quickly with clean water to avoid having the rice absorb the water, and handle the rice gently to avoid breaking grains. Here’s a video showing the process of rinsing rice before cooking.
4. Choose the best rice cooker for your needs
High heat and even cooking are essential to perfectly cooked, delicious rice. Zojirushi rice cookers use advanced technologies to cook the best-tasting rice, and make cooking great rice as easy as pressing a button.
Here are the four different types of Zojirushi rice cookers to choose from:
- Conventional: These rice cookers provide basic rice steaming, using a bottom plate heating element that warms the inner pan. Some models also heat from above. Soaking and steaming are required.
- Micom: This stands for “microcomputer” — which is built into technologically advanced rice cookers to better control and automate the cooking process. Controlled computer cooking judges the amount of rice in the pan and surrounds the pan with controlled heat.
- IH and Micom: Rice cookers with this combination of induction heating (IH) and micom provide energy-efficient heating, using the cooking pan as a conductor to generate higher and more precise temperatures, resulting in fluffier rice.
- Pressure + IH + Micom: This level of optimum cooking technology combines pressure cooking and high heat to further enhance the flavor and texture of the rice. In the three types using micom, soaking and steaming are pre-programmed.
5. Fluff your rice
To improve texture, fluff rice gently with a rice spatula immediately after cooking. Bring rice up from the side of a quarter section of the inner pan at a time and stir gently. Use the spatula’s edge to break clumps into smaller pieces. This will release excess moisture, making your rice uniformly fluffy.
Rice is a staple in cuisines around the world. Once you’ve mastered perfect rice, you can create a vast array of recipes, from Temaki Sushi or Bibimbap to Jambalaya and much more.
Find tasty recipes and learn more about rice cooking at Zojirushi.com.