made in Japan

One of the most-used appliances in our kitchen is our rice cooker. We got our first one about ten years ago and never looked back. You just add rice and water and let it do the job. When your rice is cooked (always properly), it will also keep it warm for you. It means you don’t have to think about it when you’re cooking the rest of your meal.

The last time I was in the market for a rice cooker I began looking at the Japanese rice cookers. When Martin and I were in Japan on holiday we practically drooled over the machines they produced. This is a nation of smart, tech-savvy people, who eat rice every day, so it’s no surprise that their rice cookers are top-notch.

But then we were given a rice cooker as a freebie, and while it wasn’t very complicated it did the job, so we settled for it. This past week that device started to fail, so this time I decided we were going to splurge and get a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker. They are expensive, but since we use this appliance so much – 3/4 times a week – the investment is worth it.

We went to British company Yum Asia because of their reputation for great service. Yesterday, my package arrived from UPS – I ordered the rice cooker on Monday, so that’s a fast turnaround. We went for a 5-cup rice cooker which is the right size for our household.

Since this is just an appliance it seemed a bit daft to be excited, but when I unwrapped it I was dying to get a proper look at it.

It comes with a rice spatula and a measuring cup, and a surprise package of tea leaves… There’s a little plastic holder for the spatula that slots onto either the right or the left hand side of the machine, so the implement is always handy.

The manual is in English and Japanese, and easy to follow. There are a lot of options depending on the kind of rice you’re cooking, plus it steams vegetables (it comes with a steaming tray), and apparently you can use it to bake a cake!

The body of the machine is quite long, but I like that it’s neat and contained, with a useful carrying handle. The brushed steel exterior pretty much goes with any kitchen.

I decided to make a Thai curry last night, so I made Thai Jasmine rice, which is a sticky variety. The manual is quite insistent that you wash and rinse your rice properly, so I was more thorough than usual in this part of the process. It takes longer to cook rice than my previous machine, but as long as you set it up first thing as you are prepping your meal it should be ready when everything is done. It does have a ‘quick rice’ setting, which should deliver nicely cooked rice in about 35 minutes (although I’m not sure I’d try it with brown rice).

I was very happy with the resulting cooked rice. There was no crust on the bottom, and nothing stuck to the pan at all. It’s recommended that you stir the rice immediately after cooking if you are going to leave it inside the cooker for its ‘keep warm’ facility.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it handles one of my favourite rices: Basmati brown rice. Plus, I think I’ll actually use the vegetable steaming option on this rice cooker.

Lots of people in Ireland don’t seem to have heard of a rice cooker, and the range of models here is pretty poor. For anyone who makes rice regularly it’s an appliance well worth getting. I’d certainly recommend Donna and Neil at Yum Asia for anyone looking to invest in a Japanese rice cooker.