Often you do not realize that life's basic conveniences are just beside you. I am not referring to store-bought frozen pizza or that tub of ice cream, but technologies that are created to make life easier. The rice cooker was considered a kitchen revolution when it was invented in Japan in the 1950s as it changed the lives of many homemakers in that country, where cooking rice in traditional ways was time-consuming. However, the use of rice cookers for anything other than rice was considered a sign of laziness and moral corruption that is characteristic of those who cannot be bothered with getting their wok down.
However, when it comes to home cooking, the rice cooker is indeed a kitchen revolution, and not just in Japan. Being able to whip up nutritious, healthy, and tasty meals without wasting a huge amount of time is still the key. The rice cooker can help achieve that. True, the rice cooker is not the only cooking tool that could do this, and its versatility may have been overshadowed by the one-pot cooking often talked about with slow cookers. But, the rice cooker can be your one-pot cooker too! It is a simple machine to operate and can bring you nutritious, healthy, and easy cooking, using the fresh ingredients and basic pantry items that are the linchpins of a good diet.
How versatile is the rice cooker? You can steam, stew, stir-fry, braise, sauté … almost like a portable stovetop! You can cook in the rice cooker the same way you cook with a pan on the stove, since the rice cooker can generate its own heat. Many of your daily recipes can be easily adapted to rice cookers. In fact, much home cooking is gradually moving away from the rigidity of traditional recipes and advocating improvisational cooking as an even quicker and easier way to make everyday meals. Building on successful meals is not difficult as long as the dishes can be deconstructed into basics: ingredients, taste, balance, flavors, and the correct techniques. Similarly, rice cooker cooking also starts with building a foundation — the correct technique; then you can make changes by experimenting. Such little experiments in each recipe will allow you to learn new flavors every day, and hopefully allow you to improvise and be creative in the process of working with your new tool.
This book's goal is to empower you with the knowledge of how to use the rice cooker more than to teach you perfect recipes. The focus will be on the technique and process. Rice cooker cooking is really a lot about careful planning and the sequence during cooking. Most (if not all) of the cooking in this cookbook has been done in the rice cooker. This is to really bring out the “real deal” in rice cooker cooking, which is that the cooker can stand alone, playing a primary role in your kitchen.
For those who already own a rice cooker and are already using it, mainly to cook rice and simple dishes, there is a much larger variety of recipes to explore, from nourishing soups to hearty meals. For those who do not yet own a rice cooker and are thinking of getting one, this can be a good starter guide on how to use the rice cooker for simple and appetizing recipes. Enjoy!