mi size electric rice cooker

How to Select a Great Electric Rice Cooker

How to select a great electric rice cooker 

When it comes to recommending the best electric rice cooker, many blog posts or retailers don’t seem to care about the views of the ones that matter most. Those who use electric rice cookers over and over, and who know what a great one should be able to do. 

1. Not all recommendations are commendable 

Forget about such recommendations as “the best rice cooker sold on amazon” made by external parties. If you read their posts in the first place, its because you wanted an expert opinion on the matter. Otherwise you could have gone yourself on amazon and check the quick-bait reviews. Most of these rice cookers wouldn’t be used by Asian people anyway. Because a lot of these products simply do not provide the proper mechanic of electric rice cooking; or they try to do too many things at the same time. A great rice cooker cooks…rice. 

1.1. And not all branded goods…are good

You also ought to be careful about those brands you are familiar with because they are highly popular and you trust them. It’s not because you rely on the quality of the products they are originally known for; that they are good at everything. One of the companies I used to work for, sells electric rice cookers, when this line of products has never been in their staple of products historically. Chances are …they still do not manufacture these products, but outsource them.

1.2. Why so many?

I will not burden you either with too many product choices, which defies the purpose of relying on an expert recommendation in the first place. And I will ignore lots of those electric rice cookers with thousands of positive reviews. Actually, I will not completely ignore them but I will use them to advise on what you should avoid. I recently fell for the trick of thousands of positive reviews, when I bought a computer mouse on Amazon. Unfortunately, I threw the product away the very second I received it; because it was not a great quality product.   
Am I an expert? Not in the mechanic sense of the term. But as a heavy user of rice cookers for more than 25 years, I know what a good rice cooker does.
All in all, an electric rice cooker is great news. It was not always that straight forward to cook rice.

2. From rag to riches

2.1. Burning wood does not deliver on accuracy

When I was young, there was no electric rice cooker.  My grandma cooked rice in a big wok heated by the burning woods, and my mom used a normal pot to cook the rice on a stove.  It was much harder to cook a good pot of rice by then, and the result was not always what you expected.  Sometimes, the rice was burned, or not fully cooked because it was difficult to control the wood fire.  Another problem of cooking the rice in a normal pot on the stove, is that you need to monitor closely that the liquid does not spill out of the container. Otherwise, you need to clean the mess.  They had to go through numerous experiences and as many failures to cook flavourful rice. There were lots of details to attend to in order to have a good pot of steamed rice.

2.2. Thanks for that little invention…the toaster of Asia

Nowadays, you can get rid of all the problems mentioned above as long as you have a good electric rice cooker.  There is a clear mark for scaling the amount of water needed to cook the amount of rice desired.  The electronic power makes sure that the heat is evenly spread. Furthermore, many brands have 3D cooking system, which not only heat-up from the bottom, but also provide heat from the side and the top.  There are no burns nor crusts on the bottom (even if sometimes I miss the crust, as that was my childhood delicious snack).  The hinged lid is tightly sealed to prevent the liquid from coming out of the pot, so your rice cooker and the kitchen counter look neat and clean.  Finally, the rice cooker automatically stops cooking and keeps the rice warm for many hours.  That said, with that many offers it is hard to know what to choose.

3. How to select a good electric rice cooker

There are so many brands of the rice cookers and with huge price differences, that it’s a puzzle to select a great product. Believe it or not, relying on such site as Amazon, and the reviews they display, will not necessarily lead you to buy the great electric rice cooker you need. 

3.1. What not to choose – Red flags of electric rice cookers

For one, if you check their website the biggest electric rice cooker sellers are under $30. That’s a BIG RED FLAG straight away for me.

3.1.1. Cheap or ….?

Based on my experience, these kinds of electric rice cookers always end-up with some sort of issues within a matter of weeks. Either, they cannot create the finish product that you want, or they let too much steam out of the machine, not cooking the rice perfectly. Some people might not notice this issue at first, but then again you don’t want to be the one who draw ire for cooking the rice the wrong way.

3.1.2. Not all rice should be cooked in an electric rice cooker

There is another issue. And it has to do with the rice. Some rice varieties are not really made to be cooked that way. CHECK OUT MY GUIDE ON THE BEST RICE FOR AN ELECTRIC RICE COOKERS.

3.1.3. An electric rice cooker should cook…Rice

Have you ever come across these big brand names (an American company comes to mind) that offer rice cookers that have so many functions and layers, such as cooking vegetables etc? ANOTHER BIG RED FLAG. If you want to be disappointed on all fronts, then go for these versatile electric rice cookers that end-up cooking everything poorly. If you want a great rice cooker, it should have “I cook rice, rice, rice” written all over its face. Whether you cook something else with it is another issue; but if its primary function is to cook rice, then you are heading in the right direction. On the other hand, cooking rice is only one of the machine’s option, avoid at all cost.

3.1.4. Close the lid goddamn it

You might have seen some electric rice cookers with glass lid that you supposedly cover the machine with. They too promise a great cooking. RED FLAG, RED FLAG, RED FLAG. This won’t do the job and you will end-up disappointed. I know because I had one before. Someone who did not know much about rice cooker, bought a branded product with a glass lid for me. The end result was disappointing. Got rid of it in a heartbeat.
Although there is not a single electric rice cooker that is the best for everyone; there are some cues to consider. 
So, what criteria should you consider for selecting a great electric rice cooker?

4. Asian momas know best

As many people are aware, rice is a strong part of the diet of many Asian countries. Places like China, japan, Thailand are big consumers of rice. 
Therefore, one has to assume, that with such a heavy usage of the grain, people from those places would know more about what a great electric rice cooker should be. And the reality is “It is true”. One of the best electric rice cookers I had was a Japanese brand named Zojirushi.  What the product cost me in dollar, it gave it back many times over; in quality of rice cooked, consistency, and resilience. 

5. Size matters…It is true

If you have a small family, it will be a waste to buy a rice cooker with a big volume capacity. Especially that many people live in small flats.  1 Litter capacity is good for 2 to 3 people.  1.5 litter is good for 4 to 5 people.  A big rice cooker may cost more and occupy more space, and it consume more energy to heat up the whole pot when half is empty. 

6. So does weight

The most important part of the rice cooker is the inner container.  I suggest to buy one that is heavier.  If the inner bowl is thin, it will not conduct the heat evenly. And light weight normally implies single layer of material, which in turn may not last you long.  You should choose a multi-layer bowl with a stable coating that does not fall off. Bad coating means unhealthy product, so beware. 

7. It must lock tightly

I also suggest to buy a rice cooker with an hinged lid attached to the body and a rubber gasket.  Thus, when the lid is closed, it seals in the heat and keeps the warmth.   As I mentioned earlier, some rice cookers have a glass lid that sit on top of the pot. This design does not help keep the heat when cooking. It also affects the flavour of the rice. 

8. An electric rice cooker…cooks rice

This point has been mentioned also already. Many electric rice cookers provide many functions, such as:
–       Use as a steamer,
–       Cook different foods etc.  
However, I suggest not to buy these muti-function rice cookers.  First of all, it is a waste if you do not use those functions often. Secondly, chances are you will get confused when selecting the functions.  Thirdly, a product that promise multi-tasking capabilities tends to be poor at executing each individual task. Finally, the more functions there are, the higher the chances of problems or break down.  As a Chinese, I only use my rice cooker for steam rice. I almost never use it for the other purposes. 

9. The good, the good, the good

In the end, in terms of the brands, I have used a few brand names, Chinese, Japanese and western brands.  My experience is that the Japanese brands are simply the best.  They are so serious about their rice cooking, that they treat it like a science.  Japanese say, if they need to flee their country and can only take one thing with them, it would definitely be the rice cooker. 

10. Small size

This electric rice cooker will be perfect for single individuals or couple living in a small apartment. You can virtually take it anywhere with you and since you are likely to love it, chances are it will be in your luggage no matter where you go. It’s a bit pricy, but that’s an investment that worth it. An electronic gadget that cost 5 times the price of this product will last you a couple of years. This one will survive you. 

It cost around  $125 on Amazon, which a real bargain in my opinion.

11. Medium Size

mi size electric rice cooker

This electric rice cooker would suit a family of 4 to 5 people. Highly focused on cooking rice, it will deliver high quality on a regular basis. If you are unsure how much water you should put according to the type of rice you have, check out this product. It has a great guidance on the amount of water you should use based on rice varieties. Alternatively, you can also read my post on rice vs usage.

The product cost $179.50.

12. Big size

This product would be great If you guys are heavy rice eaters or have a family of more than 6 people. Durability and consistency are what you will get there. Its compact, neat and tidy. This electric rice cooker will fit in small places around your home and will feel more like a companion than a burden. Expect this product to last you for a very very long time.
Talking about heavy usage of rice; you can check my egg fried rice recipe, that uses left over rice to make this delicious dish. It’s simple to cook, pass the Asian authenticity test and will please everyone in your family. 

This would cost you $181.

12.1. Why these recommendations?

Zojirushi is the earliest Japanese brand rice cooker, and so far it’s still the best in my opinion.  The company constantly incorporates new technologies into its electric rice cookers, so it is still the market leader.  I bought one when I lived in China and used it for 10 years. It was still like a brand new one after that many years.  However, I gave it to my friend before I came to UK as I thought it would be too complicated to use it with a UK adaptor. I do regret the decision, even if I am glad someone I like dearly has a great product in her hands.  I currently use a Tefal rice cooker, and it is not as good as my Zojirushi. I will definitely change back to Zojirushi in the very near future.

13. Alternative quality budget

If you want an alternative to Zojirushi, another Japanese brand, Toshiba is also good.  My mum has been using a Toshiba rice cooker for more than 10 years too back in China, and it still functions well. 

This would cost you $119.

In summary, buy a good Japanese brand with simple functions, and the size that suits your family. A great rice cooker deserves good rice. Have you ever eaten some great quality rice and thought “How come this is so delicious”? Stay tune, as I will give you a guide on the best rice you should try before you die.

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