10

I'm considering buying a proper rice cooker, as we've eaten most of the non-stick coating of the cheap one. The forums rave about induction heating, Zojirushi, Tiger, Toshiba RC-18NMF with its cast-iron pot, Buffalo with their stainless steel pots. And now there is also the Tefal RK704 with its ceramic pot to consider...

Occasionally it comes up that folks cook rice in their electric pressure cookers, and it takes them on the order of 10 minutes! That speed sounds like a major advantage. Why would anyone use a rice cooker? (At least the expensive ones?)

Comments such as this one seem to indicate that the high-end rice cookers do something special, resulting in longer cooking times (50 minutes) and better-tasting rice.

So my question is: is this difference real? Is it noticeable by ordinary people? Has anyone tested this side-by-side, with the same rice?

Is there any other reason I'm missing that a rice cooker be more convenient than a modern electric pressure cooker?

  • I have a Cuckoo rice cooker (10/10, excellent, would buy again) and it is a rice cooker AND electric pressure cooker! It has a turbo mode that cooks rice from start to finish in like 15 minutes, but the slower settings produce better rice. – SourDoh Dec 27 '14 at 14:43
  • The other advantage to a rice cooker is that Japanese ones come with timer functions. I know of no electric pressure cooker that would allow you to load rice and water in the morning, and come home to just cooked rice for dinner. This helps to offset the 45-1hr cooking times for brown rice, if it can be "set-and-forget". – fontophilic Feb 2 '15 at 15:40
  • @fontophilic the Instant Pot does that. – verbose Feb 19 '17 at 10:15
10

There are some advantages to a pressure cooker, but I don't think that the rice QUITE finishes in 10 minutes in my experience. For proper texture, it still seems to take some time for the rice to fully hydrate and steam itself after the heat is off. A normal well-covered pot of (most kinds of) rice takes approximately 25-30 min after it comes to a boil, and 10-15 minutes of that is resting with no heat. The pressure cooker might save 8-10 minutes off of that, because I think you'll not need as much time on heat.

The downsides of a pressure cooker include: 1) It's much too easy to cook off too much water and burn or dry out the rice while on full heat, because you cannot see how much water is inside. 2) It doesn't hot hold the rice very well. (In Japan, Korea and China, it's generally considered rude to serve cooled off rice). and 3) It's also not so easy to cook a small amount of rice, because the minimum amount of liquid (by manufacturer recommendations, based on capacity of the vessel) may be higher than you'd need for a typical 180ml scoop of rice. Items 1 and 3 can be mitigated with practice, I suppose. I had pretty good results with a stovetop pot that wasn't a pressure cooker back when I did it regularly, and I think it's not that hard to adapt to the difference with a pressure cooker, but I've certainly made my share of timing and water volume mistakes.

The induction rice cooker I have does have a "quick" mode, which finishes in about 23-25 minutes (similar to stovetop). The cycle doesn't seem to perfectly steam the rice compared to the regular or eco mode cycles, however; texture is a bit firmer than it ideally should be. The 43 minute standard cycle produces very good results, never burns, and keeps hot without major texture compromise for up to about 8 hours (after that texture degrades, but mine will keep even longer if I leave it on). Some models even have an "okoge' feature to simulate the traditional cast-iron pot technique that was common in Japan through the early 20th century, which results in an intentional slightly crusty bottom. IH and Fuzzy Logic rice cookers make constant subtle adjustments that you may not need to make if you're very consistent in timing and volume with a stovetop or pressure cooker.

Mostly the value of a rice cooker is that you set it and forget it. Once you start it you can focus on the prep work for other things. I use it even when I'm using the pressure cooker for lentils or whatever. The hot holding, which is still essentially an extension of "set it and forget it," is another key advantage.

  • It's perfectly easy to cook, say, 1/2 a cup (~140ml) of rice in a pressure cooker. Put the rice in a small metal container, add 3/4 cup of water, place the metal container on top of the steamer trivet that comes with most pressure cookers, add 1 cup of water to the cooker (not to the container with the rice), and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, let the pressure release naturally. And rice does cook perfectly, in my experience, in approx 10-12 minutes all told (including time to let the cooker come down in pressure naturally) in a pressure cooker. – verbose Feb 19 '17 at 10:20
  • I don't think most pressure cookers come with a steamer insert (maybe it's more common with electric ones? I didn't see any stovetop ones that had anything like that when I bought mine) but that's an excellent suggestion for cooking smaller volumes of rice. – JasonTrue Feb 19 '17 at 16:25
  • My Fissler came with one, and it's not electric. But even others I've seen have a steamer insert and a l'lle trivet to put it on. The trivet is generally needed for any type of cooking when the food is placed in a container inside the cooker, not just while steaming. I've stacked multiple containers on the trivet to cook, say, rice and lentils at once. – verbose Feb 20 '17 at 7:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.