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Old 01-12-2009, 06:25 PM   #1
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ISO help with Rice Steamer vs Cooker?

I'm new here (& not a gourmet cook). I want to buy a rice STEAMER, but what I see in stores & online are most often called Rice Cooker & Steamer. What I've actually looked at in the stores, have no way to keep the rice out of the water . . . the holes in the "basket" are too large to hold rice. Therefore, the rice will cook, but won't be steamed. Can anyone explain & help me?

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Old 01-12-2009, 06:33 PM   #2
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First, welcome to DC, JARHTMD.

The appliances you have seen are dual-purpose ones. The basket you describe is the part that is used to steam vegetables. Rice is cooked in the other part of the appliance. Water, salt and rice is added to the lower vessel of the cooker. The appliance is turned on and it cooks the rice.

That is why the appliance is called rice cooker/steamer. It's used to cook rice and to steam other foods.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for your quick reply.

I'd like the rice to be steamed (not cooked in the water). I recently saw a friend's small (3-4 quart) Black & Decker Steamer that could steam rice as well as vegetables. I guess cooking in a "cooker" would be better than just cooking in a pot of water on the stove, because it couldn't burn . . . could it? That's the only advantage that I can think of for using a "cooker" instead of just a pot on the stove.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:47 PM   #4
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I have a cooker/steamer and really like it. It produces light, fluffy rice and allows me to essentially ignore the rice while it cooks. Pretty trouble-free.

I also use the appliance to steam potatoes for potato salad. Again, trouble-free and no babysitting. The potatoes also don't sit in water, which makes them (in my opinion) better for potato salad.

I love it for steaming all kinds of other veggies, too. Frees up my time, my stove and my microwave.

My instruction booklet also lists beans, lentils, split peas as other foods that can be cooked.

I've even used it to steam-heat dinner rolls that need to be heated up when they've been leftover from a previous meal.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:58 PM   #5
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Cooking the rice in water is healthier and produces tastier results because all of the rice nutrients and flavor are preserved. Whether in a rice cooker or a pot on the stove, the trick is to have the right ratio of water to rice, generally 2 measure of water to 1 measure of rice, plus salt to taste. The rice cooks in the water and absorbs all of it, except the small amount that escapes as steam. The result is fluffy rice that tastes like rice.

Steaming, OTOH, extracts some of the few nutrients there are in white rice, which ends up in the water that goes down the drain along with a lot of the rice flavor.

Rice is easy to cook without a rice cooker. Put one cup of water and 1/2 cup of rice in a small non-stick pot, cover, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer. For white rice, simmer 15 minutes; for brown rice, simmer 30 minutes; then remove from heat and let the rice sit, unopened and undisturbed, for the same amount of time (i.e., 15 minutes for white, 30 for brown). Fluff with a fork and serve.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:20 PM   #6
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Now that I've been thinking about cooking rice (let's face it; cooking rice doesn't really require a whole lot of thinking) I realize that because it is so easy, I've become careless. For many years I've used the Frugal Gormet's "1 knuckle" method . . . no matter what size or shape of the pot, cover the rice with water up to the depth of "1 knuckle" above the top of the rice and simmer for about 20 min after bringing to a boil.

Some years ago I switched to brown rice and cooked "about" twice as long. I can't even recall why now, but I always add "some" white rice (for texture?). I've never precisely measured the mixture ratio or cooking time. That, I think, is probably why, over time, I've become dissatisfied with the results.

A rice cooker should assure that my cooking time is always right. A cooker/steamer will allow me to also steam vegetables (or whatever) at the same time . . . right?
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JARHTMD View Post
A cooker/steamer will allow me to also steam vegetables (or whatever) at the same time . . . right?
Not at the same time. It's one function or the other. Rice first, then veggies. Or veggies, then rice. Because in order to steam the vegetables, the bottom vessel is filled with water and the top one (with holes) is placed on top with the veggies.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:45 PM   #8
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You can throw your veggies in at the end of the cycle and they will steam just fine. I cook all kinds of stuff in my rice cooker. Plain rice, wild rice, pilafs, cous cous, jambalaya with sausage and shrimp, rice pudding, tapioca pudding... I have a Zojirushi Neuro-Fuzzy shown here, it's very versatile...

Amazon.com: Zojirushi NS-ZCC18 10-Cup Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer, Premium White: Home & Garden

I'd like to get an induction model, but they are out of my price range...
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:59 PM   #9
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I grew up eating rice cooked in a rice cooker that steamed the rice, though not exactly the way you describe. Ours had in inner pot, which got filled with the rice and enough water to cover it, plus about 1/2 inch more; and an outer casing (the cooker itself) which got filled with about 3/4 inch of water. the innner pot got set inside the outer, and the cover went over the whole thing. This produced excellent rice. I've looked for similar rice cookers many times in my adult life, but never found one.

These days, I make my rice the same way we did it in that machine when i was a kid, but on the stovetop. I put my rice into a small pot or steel mixing bowl and set that within a larger pot with water in it, with a steamer to elevate the inner pot above the floor or the outer pot. This also produces excellent rice every time.

I do also have a steamer that keeps the rice above and not immersed in water, but that one is specifically for sticky rice and I only use it that way. I have never seen or heard of anyone using one of these for regular rice. My steamer is of this type:
Sticky rice steaming pot and basket | The Wok Shop
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