There are few kitchen appliances and gadgets that I could never live without. You know… the types of appliances which I use almost daily and make my life so much easier and enjoyable in the kitchen. Aside from my stand mixer my rice cooker is a must have. I hate to sound stereotypical of Asian households but yes, we eat rice just about every day.
But let me tell you something about making rice: the best made rice is always made in a rice cooker. When I was as young as my daughters, my father gave me the job of making rice each day. I was taught to rinse the grains until the water was clear. Then I measured the level of rice with my finger, filled the equivalent amount with water, and pressed a white button which turned orange to get the cooking process going. The ricer maker we grew up with was a very simple model. After the cooking process was complete, the button would pop back up and shut the heat off and rice would be ready. If everything went as it should, we would eat hot rice without a hint of mushiness or hard grains.
My success rate was about 75 percent. The other 25 percent was due to pouring too much water. Dad was always a bit irritated when I made rice with too much water. It is texture was equivalent to cooking pasta well beyond al dente, to the point you don’t even want to eat it. I guess this is why you should not make a seven year old child be in charge of making rice. The other aspect of this particular rice cooker I hated was how the bottom layer of rice would over cook and stick to the pan. Washing this by hand was something I never looked forward to.
When I married my husband, we registered for a nice 10 cup rice cooker which kept the rice warm after it was done cooking and was easier to clean. My success rate was closer to 90% success because old habits die hard and I was still using the finger method -shame on me. The only negative side to this rice cooker was the size. We have a very small kitchen and have little countertop room where this rice cooker took up most of the space. Besides, we only cooked a few cups of rice daily and it seemed rather ridiculous to have such a large rice maker to make such a little amount. So I decided two years ago to pack of my rice maker and put it away in the attic. I figured I would bring it down when we hosted big family gatherings that justified its use but for everyday cooking I only needed a small rice cooker.
So the practical part of me purchased a small no-name 3 cup rice cooker at an Asian grocery store. The rice cooker was cheap, around $20. This was a very bad idea. When I went to wash the bowl for the first time, my hand was covered in black muck. I have no idea what it was, but apparently the bowl had some type of outer coating which rubbed off each time you washed it. After washing it a dozen times, most of the black stuff came off. The rice maker was fine until the cord caught on fire. The rice maker was useless and I needed to find a replacement. So guess what I did? I walked down to the local neighborhood grocery/department store and found another cheap 3-cup rice cooker which looked like a scaled down model of the one I grew up with… the one I hated. It worked fine except for small annoyances like a cord that didn’t self retract, rice sticking to the bottom, and a lid with no handle. I felt like the girl who settled for the least expensive model because it seemed unpractical to even consider a nice appliance despite everything I had ever heard of those models. I never envied people who owned the nicer models, and when I say nicer models, what I really mean to say is a brand. This brand I had always heard about was Zojirushi, the Mercedes-Benz of rice makers.
I’ve always wanted to own this rice maker but the price point just seemed a bit high for just making rice. Despite knowing many other people who owned these rice makers and raved about them, I just never believed what they claimed could be true. People had told me over many years how Zojirishi made perfect rice every time and how you could set different modes on the rice maker depending on what you’re cooking and the rice you’re using. In other words, these rice makers are smart, very smart. I would ask my friends, “but are they worth hundreds of dollars?” And each time they would tell me they couldn’t live without theirs. I was told a Zorirushi was the equivalent of what a K-5 stand mixer is to me. Fair enough.
When Zojirushi asked if I would consider reviewing a rice maker I was very eager to test one out for myself to see if it was worth the hype, and if in fact it would make perfect rice as I had been told. I was sent the Neuro Fuzzy (5 1/2-cup capacity), one of their most popular and smallest models.
Can I just tell you how stupid I was to not have invested in a Zojirushi years ago? I wish I would not have let my frugal practical side convince me not to consider these wonderful rice makers because it truly does what it claims. Even though it comes with measuring cups and indicators in the bowl, I still use my unreliable finger method for measuring rice and water. Guess what? The smart technology I was telling you makes fine tune adjustments to the temperature and cooking time to make sure I do have perfect rice every time – I’m not kidding. I’ve purposely tried to screw this up (within reason) to test it out and oh my goodness… I think back to all the disappointments I’ve experienced when making rice and the reality of having my rice cooker fix my mistakes is priceless. Since using it I haven’t heard my father complain about my rice at all, which is a nice change. Dad doesn’t complain about much, he just likes his rice not mushy.
The rice cooker also has settings for cooking white rice, sushi rice, brown rice and porridge. It is truly awesome. If you’re familiar with rice cookers, than I know that you know that Zojirushi’s are the top of the line rice makers, hands down. These rice makers are not cheap. Like I said before, they are the best of the best. With holiday season here and people looking for gift ideas, I would recommend a Zojirushi without hesitation for households who eat rice frequently.
To kick off the first of many giveaways this Christmas season, the generous people at Zojirushi have partnered with me to give away one Zojirushi 5 ½ cup Neuro Fuzzy Rice Maker (retails for $233) to a Savory Sweet Life reader. <<<<CONTEST IS CLOSED>>>> Congrats to Amanda S!
All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what your favorite rice dish. If you would like an additional entry, tweet about this giveaway by copying and pasting the following: “Just entered to win a #Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Maker http://bit.ly/ggr0jT #giveaway #SavorySweetLife” Come back here and leave an additional comment with your Twitter handle letting me know you tweeted.
The contest will close Wednesday, Dec. 1st at 9pm PST and the winner will be chosen at random (random.org) and announced here shortly after. The contest is open to those with US mailing addresses. Good luck!