Originally posted by Lone Star
Does anyone use a ricemaker or have any recommendations for such?
When I wanted to buy a rice cooker in 1998, a friend who owns Lexington's premier Asian restaurant, offered his help.
My friend grew up in Taiwan and has a good opinion of the National brand of rice cookers (most rice cookers sold in Taiwan are National). Manufacturer in Thailand by Matsu****i, these rice cookers are sold in the U.S. under the brand name Panasonic.
My unit, Panasonic model # SR-W15FP, is a rice cooker and steamer. My friend and I looked all over Lexington for the National/Panasonic unit before finding it at WalMart, selling for $35. I later bought another one as a gift.
This unit will also steam a large amount of fresh vegetables with excellent results (it's about how much H2O is added). It's sold with a plastic measuring cup, a nice rice scoop, a steaming rack, and good operating instructions. The lid is part see-through glass.
I generally use the rice cooker 1 to 3 times a week. Having one encourages me to cook more, since it's so easy to make meals around rice. Cooked rice stores well and nicely reheats in a microwave. Last night I added some refrigerated rice to homemade chicken soup. The night before I had warmed up rice with smoked deli sausage and stir fried Szechuan cabbage.
This Panasonic unit seemed better made than many of the rice cookers I saw. Panasonic also sold the unit with a solid glass lid (model # SR-W15PC). Both models may be available online; I haven't looked.
Several friends warned me about small rice cookers that make only a few cups. These leave a thick crust on the bottom of the rice. Everyone was insistent that I buy a rice cooker that can cook up to eight 6 ounce cups of raw rice. Back then no one seemed impressed with pricey electronic models, which are common now and more reasonably priced.
My friend told me how to get a better result from my unit: Combine the water and rice a half hour before cooking (I add salt). The moment the switch pops up, indicating the rice is done, unplug the machine so the warmer function will not continue cooking the rice (this is very important as the warmer will dry out the rice, leaving a thicker, browner crust on the bottom). Leave the lid closed for at least 15 minutes after the switch pops up, so the rice continues to steam. The rice will stay warm a long time, even with the warmer off.
The reliable rice cooker allows me to focus completely on other parts of a meal without worrying about how the rice will turn out. I can cook rice just fine, but appreciate the consistency of a problem-free method. I sometimes substitute chicken stock or make curried rice.
After I bought the rice cooker, I began buying 50 lb. bags of premium medium grain white rice through my friend's restaurant. This rice is grown in California and is much superior to the par boiled 12 or 14 minute white rice found at Kroger. Raw rice will take from 25 to 30 minutes to cook on the stove.
When my friend's son went off to Georgia Tech this fall, I looked for the Panasonic rice cooker for him to take along. but they are definitely gone from the stores here. I turned to Consumer Reports for help and found that CR looked at only fancy electronic models ($50 and up), or inexpensive, simple models (no "keep warm" feature). According to CR, some of the inexpensive models, like the Salton RA3 and the Aroma ARC-703G work just fine. So we bought him the 6 cup Aroma (rice cooker only) that sells for about $20.