Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Japanese Rice Cooker

I remember that we got a small rice cooker/vegetable steamer for our wedding (almost 8 years ago!) and I thought, "what is that for? Why do you need something special to cook rice in?" Isn't funny how things change?
Soon after that we moved to Guam, where most people have rice for every meal... and most people have rice cookers. So we bought a simple rice cooker and used it every now and then. A simple rice cooker means it just has one button... you put the rice and water in it, push the button, and 20-30 minutes later, you have cooked rice.
When we moved to the Philippines, we started to eat rice even more than we had in Guam. We still had a simple rice cooker, but we started to notice that all our friends from Japan and Korea brought rice cookers with them to the Philippines... and they weren't just 'one-button' rice cookers... they were fancy with lots of buttons. We knew that rice and how it is cooked was very important to our friends, but we still didn't understand why it was important to bring a rice cooker, when you could buy them in the Philippines.
Well, now we live in Japan, and eat even more rice than we did in the Philippines....and as we began to set up our home here, we noticed that stores have MANY rice cookers for sale... multiple aisles are given for rice cookers, ranging in price from $50 - $800!!! We asked some Japanese friends to explain what is so special about these rice cookers.... and then we decided we needed one for our family. We were going to save up for one for Christmas, but Julie's parents surprised us by giving us money for a rice cooker for our birthdays! Thanks Mom and Dad!

So, a couple weeks ago we went with our Japanese friends to buy our rice cooker. We needed help navigating the more than 30 rice cookers available in just one store! And here is our beautiful rice cooker:
Now, you will notice there is a menu... we have many options now for how we want our rice cooked, including settings for white rice, quick cook white rice, sushi rice, rice with other ingredients, rice porridge, super sticky rice, brown rice, and cake... that's right! You can make a cake in your rice cooker!!! It also has a timer, so I can put my rice and water in the cooker any time during the day, and set the time for 6:00 pm... my rice will be ready precisely at 6:00! It will also keep rice warm and ready to eat for at least 12 hours... so you can cook rice in the morning and eat fresh rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... isn't that wonderful? ;)
Our parents already thought we were a little weird when we last visited their homes and ask that they have lots of rice on hand for our 'Asian' son who LOVES rice and asks to eat it very often. We also asked (well, probably demanded) that they stay away from any instant or microwaveable rice because "it's not real, and Justin wouldn't like it!" Well, we've reached a new level now in our love of rice... time will only tell if we become 'rice snobs' and start to really notice differences in rice like our Japanese and Korean friends. But for now, we're just loving our new rice cooker.. and I really do think the rice tastes better! ;) Oishi des!


Grandma Jill said...

Okay, now I'm insulted -- I have NEVER made or served instant or microwavable rice. But, obviously, there's a lot I can learn about rice and rice cookers! :-) Enjoy it! (and, I expect lots of demonstrations when i return!) ;-)

Melissa said...

Mmmm, I may need to get one of those. Our children can tell the difference in rice. If it's not Jasmine, they are not truly happy about it. I am impressed at your navigation of the Japanese menu!

Ashley said...

I had so much fun reading this, because after living in Japan I agree that Minute Rice just seems so, well, HOLLOW now. I also got tickled by the music that plays when the rice is ready. I've heard "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", and ours plays "Minuet in G".

~Ashley R.