Rice Cooker 101: Buyers Guide and Starter Recipe | Cooking Corner

Enjoy this simple and easy to make dish with your students who may be craving some home-cooked rice.

After you welcome your international student from Asia into your home, and all the initial excitement of being in a new country has subsided, your student may experience homesickness. He or she may miss home cooked meals, and you may only know to pick out dishes from a local Chinese, Vietnamese or Korean take-out place (which, by the way, is not always authentic.)

Since a majority of gphomestay international students are from Asia, the main staple of most meals is rice. This is an easy food item to pick up, and with the right tool, you can prepare rice dishes with your students and have some fun with them. So without further ado, here is a brief Rice Cooker 101 tutorial, and a simple and delicious one-pot-rice dish that you can make with your student.

Types of Rice Cookers

To start, there are two types of rice cookers; one is mainly to cook rice and another can serve as a food steamer. If you are pressed for time and would like to have your rice and another dish prepared at the same time, then the rice cooker/food steamer will be a great choice.

Tatung Rice Cooker

rice cookers

My personal favorite and one that I grew up with is Tatung Rice Cooker. It is one of the first companies that produced a rice cooker and still remains a favorite in Taiwan and some neighboring countries. There are low-cost ones in the U.S. that you can get from stores such as Target or Wal-Mart. Two that received good reviews are the AROMA and Hamilton Beach, and both cost less than $40.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker

rice cooker 3

Another type of rice cooker is using the pressure cooking method to produce fluffy rice. If you are a rice lover or you have a large family who enjoys eating rice, then you can invest in a more expensive rice cooker. One of the best known brands in this category is Zojirushi. A rice cooker like this one may go for $150 to $450 or more. This rice cooker does have other functions such as preparing porridge, brown rice and soup. However, it usually takes longer time to complete the cooking cycle. You usually can get this Japanese style cooker online or at larger Asian markets.

Start Small, and Try Before You Buy

I strongly suggest that before you go out and invest hundreds of dollars on a rice cooker, get a lower-priced one and experiment with it. Introduce rice to your family in your meals, and once you master the art of rice cooking, you can graduate into a more high-end rice cooker. I own four different rice cookers, and often have two of them going at the same time depending on the meals I am preparing. Like the Chinese old saying goes, “If you would like to have a good product, you must have the proper tool to do the job.”

Many rice cookers will come with several recipes that you can try. These will be simple and usually easy to make. Once you get the gist of cooking with a rice cooker, you can get more creative. If you’re feeling adventurous, here is a very simple dish to start you on your own adventure. Enjoy!

Tomato Shrimp Rice (5 servings)

rice dish final


2 ½ cups of rice

2 cups of water

2 teaspoons of butter or Olive Oil

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2-3 medium-size tomatoes

20-25 shrimp (peeled and deveined)


rice dish step one
1. Put rinsed and drained rice into the container that comes with the rice cooker. Add 2 cups of water.
rice dish step two
2. Add salt, pepper and butter (or Olive Oil). Stir to distribute the seasoning evenly.
Rice dish step 3
3. Place the tomatoes and shrimps on top of the rice. You don’t need to push them into the rice.
Rice dish step four
4. Set the time based on the rice cooker users’ manual for regular rice cooking.
rice dish step five
5. After the rice is done, use a large spoon to break the tomatoes and stir the juice and flesh into the rice.

Lastly, add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. You can add chopped basil or cilantro to add some flavor. You can also replace shrimp with salmon or pre-cooked strips of chicken breast/thighs or shaved beef.

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