How to Use a Rice Cooker, part 02: rice variations & scallion rice
December 21, 2011 § 33 Comments
So, in part one of the rice cooker series, I gave a basic overview of how to use a rice cooker in the most basic, straightforward way. And while I enjoy plain rice with flavorful, saucy dishes like stir-frys, sometimes plain rice is just, well, plain. Boring. Thoroughly unexciting. So the rest of the rice cooker series will be devoted to giving you ideas for how to expand on basic rice without putting out a lot of extra effort.
There is a basic formula for seasoning and enhancing grains, and rice is no different. Salt and pepper are always essential to bringing out the best flavor in grains. From there you can try substituting the water in your rice cooker with using stock or broth to cook your rice. Other options include substituting a small portion of wine or soy sauce for some of the cooking liquid to add a greater depth of flavor. You can also add a bit of oil or butter to your rice, if you are feeling really decadent.
Spices also are a quick, tasty addition to rice, and give you what I like to call free flavor. For instance, one of the things I like to do when I’m making rice for Indian food is to add some turmeric, bay leaf and cardamom, along with some salt and pepper. It gives the rice a wonderful yellow color, a sweet aroma, and adds almost no extra calories, fats or sugars.
You can also add finely chopped vegetables to the rice as it cooks. Milder members of the allium family, such as shallot or scallions, add wonderful flavor. You could also use carrots, onion or celery. The key is to chop your vegetables small enough so that they cook by the time the rice is finished. Have fun experimenting, and if something doesn’t work out as well as you hoped, make notes and adjust it slightly for next time. As long as you keep a consistent grain/water ratio, things shouldn’t get too out of control.
So at this point, I’m sure you’ve all had enough of me waxing poetic about all the potentials of using a rice cooker and want some concrete examples. Well, gentle reader, you are in luck. Here is a simple recipe for making rice with scallions and olive oil. All in all, it ought to take you about an additional five minutes beyond plain rice, and provides much more flavor and excitement. I paired it with some roasted veggies and fried fish, and it was awesome. I hope you enjoy it.
This is my complete meal, after I roasted some broccoli and red cabbage, and pan-fried some basa in a mix of semolina and all-purpose flour. It was fantastic, and the addition of a few ingredients to the rice kept every bite full of flavor.
As you can see, a bag of rice and a rice cooker is a cheap, yet ultimately powerful combination. It greatly simplifies the cooking process of rice, allowing you to easily incorporate this cheap and nutritious ingredient into your cooking. This basic formula also has the potential for numerous variations without much additional effort. I hope that whether you have a rice cooker, buy a rice cooker, or simply cook on the stove top, you see how cheap and easy it can be to start building a substantial meal.
Other articles in the rice cooker series:
How to Use a Rice Cooker, part 01: an introduction