Passport to Yum – Zojirushi’s Favorite International Rice Recipes

takikomigohan

Have you made perfectly delicious rice yet? Now that you know all about rice, we want to share our favorite recipes for this versatile and nutritious grain… not just from Japan, but also from across the globe!

Rice is an ancient food, and many cultures have created sophisticated, comforting dishes using local ingredients to satisfy regional tastes. We start with rice dishes from Asia, including Japan, China, India and Pakistan.

Takikomi-Gohan (seen above) is a popular rice dish that emphasizes the classic Japanese culinary tradition of using seasonal ingredients. At Zojirushi, we’ve created a recipe full of flavorful vegetables, konnyaku, tofu, chicken and dashi. This preparation can easily be made in one of our rice cookers, and makes great leftovers—make a large batch and refrigerate for no-brainer lunches throughout the week.

chukagayu

Chinese rice porridge, or congee

China is famous for comforting rice dishes, too, including the classic rice porridge, also known as congee or okayu. Rice porridge is mild and filling, and is often had for breakfast or during an illness, as it is easily digested and soothing to the stomach. Japanese, Indian, Burmese, Korean and Indonesian cultures made a version of it, and we love this classic rice porridge recipe that you can make in our food jars.

India and Pakistan share a classic rice dish called biryani. Biryani is made by layering ingredients such as chicken, lamb and vegetables with long-grain basmati rice, and seasoning it with milk and a complex combination of spices like saffron, chili, cardamom, turmeric, ginger and garlic. The dish is slow, slow, slow cooked, until all of the ingredients are tender and have soaked up the seasonings. It’s not to be missed!

favabeanrisotto

Zojirushi’s Fava Bean Risotto

Europeans, both from the western and eastern parts of the continent, savor rice as well. The classic risotto is popular in Italy and around the world. The most basic risotto is made with medium-grain Arborio rice, slowly cooked in wine and broth until it becomes creamy. Popular variations add mushrooms and peas, and we love this recipe for Fava Bean Risotto. Italy’s neighbor Spain is famous for its paella, and we love this classic version with shrimp, mussels and clams.

Eastern European rice dishes are heavily influenced by the spices of Asia and the Middle East, and Uzbek plov is a prime example of the blending of these cultures. Plov is made using long-grain rice, mutton, carrots, onions, oil and water, mixed and cooked in an open cauldron for hours until the aroma of the dish is utterly mouth-watering. Plov is often served with chickpeas, raisins and eggs, depending on the time of day it is eaten. Plov also has an interesting history, and it is said to have been made for Alexander the Great and his army.

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Crawfish etouffee (photo by jeffreyw)

The Americas have their own special rice dishes which are consumed with as much gusto as their friends on other continents. Crawfish etoufee is an elaborate and spicy dish consisting of shellfish and spices “smothering” the rice and braised in a large sauté pan. Arroz de lisa is a distinctive Colombian dish prepared with mullet rice, cooked cassava melon, costeño cheese and a piquant sour cream sauce. The rice is served in a bijao leaf and often eaten as street food.

Rice as a whole grain isn’t the only way it’s eaten across the world. Rice in the form of noodles is incredibly popular, and some of our favorites are Singapore Noodles, redolent with curry, onions and bell peppers, along with spicy, coconut-infused laksa from Malaysia, pho from Vietnam and the ever-popular wok’d chow fun with Chinese broccoli.

Rice, rice noodles, rice paper, rice dumplings… the variety is endless! We hope you try some of these recipes… and as always, share your creations with us in the comments below.

Zojirushi’s Secrets for Delicious Rice: Cooking with a Zojirushi Rice Cooker

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By now you know how to store, measure and wash rice so that it’s ready to be cooked. This month, we get to it! We share our secret for cooking perfectly delicious rice in our Zojirushi rice cookers.

Rice requires the correct ratio of grains to water, even heat and controlled pressure to cook well. Along with being easy to use and stylish, Zojirushi rice cookers are designed with these requirements in mind. A variety of features, including water level lines on the inner cooking pan, pre-programmed menu settings and temperature control give you perfectly cooked rice every time.

There are three main categories of rice cookers, with each representing a different level of rice ‘deliciousness’.  Micom rice cookers use a microcomputer, or “micom”, chip to control the way rice is cooked. The microcomputer programs in soaking time, and adjusts cooking temperature and time according to readings from internal sensors. In addition, most Micom rice cookers have three heaters surrounding the inner pan—one at the bottom, one at the top and one surrounding the inner pan from the sides—for even heat distribution to ensure fluffy rice.

Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-ZCC10/18

Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-ZCC10/18

Building on micom technology, Zojirushi’s IH + Micom rice cookers utilize sophisticated induction heating technology, which allows the inner pan to become hot very quickly using a magnetic field. The magnetic field also allows the heat to turn off very quickly, as opposed to an electrical heating element, to lower the temperature as quickly as possible when needed. This enables the rice cooker to make finer temperature adjustments for precise heating.

Zojirushi Micom + IH Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC10/18

Zojirushi IH + Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC10/18

Zojirushi also has a rice cooker that adds pressure cooking to the induction heating and micom technologies, called a Pressure + IH + Micom rice cooker. Cooking with pressure and high heat brings out the rice’s best characteristics. A pressurized system alters the structure of starch within each grain of rice, converting the indigestible beta starch into a softer, palatable alpha starch. Pressure cooked rice is fluffier, has superior texture and a pleasing mouthfeel.

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Zojirushi Pressure + IH + Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-NVC10/18

Whether you use a Micom rice cooker, an IH + Micom rice cooker or the most sophisticated Pressure + IH + Micom rice cooker, make sure to follow the steps for correctly storing, measuring and washing your rice, and you’ll have delicious rice, hot and ready to eat, every time!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Rice is truly a universal food, spanning cultures, cuisines and geographies, and we bring our passion about this grain to all that we do.

Zojirushi’s Secrets for Delicious Rice: How to Wash Rice

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Rice is a staple in kitchens all over the world. Last month we discussed how to correctly store rice to preserve its nutrients, freshness and quality, as well as how to measure rice to prepare it perfectly. In our post this month, we share our secret for rinsing and washing short-grain Japanese rice.

The key to washing and rinsing rice is to be quick and gentle. Before modern milling methods, rice was typically not as clean and bran-free as it is today. Improved million methods now result in rice that is cleaner, but also more sensitive to scrubbing and soaking. Rice grains can break if they are rubbed together too harshly, so it’s important to use a light touch. Rice grains that have had the bran polished off also begin absorbing water quickly, so it’s important to limit the time short-grain rice is exposed to water, especially as the water becomes dirty.

There are four steps to washing and rinsing rice the Zojirushi way.

Preparation
Measure and add the desired amount of rice to the inner cooking pan of your Zojirushi rice cooker using the rice measuring cup that comes with it. Fill a separate bowl with clean, cool water and pour it into the inner pan.

Initial Rinse
With an open hand, stir the rice in the water 2-3 times, then drain. Repeat this initial rinse step up to three times, until the water begins to run clear. Be sure to spend no more than 10 seconds during each rinse, so the rice doesn’t absorb the starchy water.

Wash
After the initial rinse, make a claw with your hand and quickly stir the drained but wet rice 30 times in a circular motion, without squeezing the rice in the palm of your hand. Pool cool water in a separate bowl while you rinse, and pour into the rice, stir gently two to three times, and drain. Repeat this step two to four times, depending on how starchy your rice is. For less than four cups of rice, wash it twice. For between four and seven cups of rice, wash it three times, and for more than eight cups of rice, wash it four times. If the water remains cloudy, keep washing and rinsing until the rice grains are visible through the water. Be sure to work quickly so that each wash takes only 15 seconds or less. Washing the rice this way prevents it from breaking and cleans residue and starch from each grain.

Final Rinse
The final rinse removes any remaining starch from the rice. Pour plenty of water into the inner pan, stir with an open hand and drain the rice. Repeat this step twice to ensure that the rice is clean.

Be sure to complete the four steps within 10 minutes, and the rice is ready to cook!

Different types of rice need to be washed and rinsed in their own ways. Our method works best for short-grain white rice. Let us know how you prepare your rice!

Zojirushi’s Secrets for Delicious Rice: Storing & Measuring Rice

 

komebukuro

Nutritious, cultivated all over the globe, enjoyed as part of global cuisines–rice is truly a universal food. Delicious rice begins with high-quality seeds and careful cultivation, and ends with fastidious storage, measurement, washing and cooking.

Over the next few months, we’re sharing our secrets for preparing delicious short-grain Japanese rice. Our first post focuses on how to correctly store and measure short-grain rice so that it’s ready for cooking in our rice cookers.

Purchasing the freshest, highest-quality rice possible is the first step in preparing delicious rice. Buying rice in smaller quantities means it will be used quickly, with less chance of spoiling. Rice is typically packaged in breathable bags, in sizes ranging from as little as two pounds to larger 15-pound bags, and at Zojirushi, we recommend buying the amount of rice you can consume within a month or so.

Once the rice is brought home from the market, it’s important to store it in such a way as to preserve its freshness. Rice should be stored in dry, airtight containers with the milling date, if available, noted on the container. Storing rice in airtight containers helps prevent the fatty acids in the rice from oxidizing and keeps it free of other contaminants. Rice should also be protected from humidity and high temperatures. Rice stored in cold pantries or refrigerators will stay fresh longer, as high temperatures speed up the degradation of the rice grains. Keeping rice in low-humidity environments protects it from the growth of molds and mildew.

measurerice

Measure accurately by leveling off each cup

Knowing how to measure rice correctly is the next key to preparing delicious rice. Each type of rice uses a specific rice-to-water ratio, and using too much or too little water causes the rice to cook too hard or too soft. In Zojirushi’s rice cookers, the amount of water needed to cook rice is easy to figure out, but the rice needs to be measured accurately first. The key to accurately measuring rice is to use the “overfill and level off” method. Using the rice measuring cup that comes with each Zojirushi rice cooker, scoop rice out of its container. Overfill the cup to above the brim, and then remove the excess by gently leveling off the top of the cup. Shaking excess rice off the cup or pressing rice into the cup could change the amount of rice that fits in the cup, affecting the way the rice cooks, and ultimately, its taste and texture.

Many other cultures have their own methods of buying, storing and measuring rice. How do you do it? Let us know in the comments below!

What Is Rice Really?: Delicious and Nutritious!

ricevariety

We’ve been writing all year about rice–how it’s cultivated, harvested, consumed. But at the end of the day, it’s all about eating it! Rice is one of the most delicious and nutritious foods eaten by people all over the world.

Rice is packed with nutrition. Nutritionally classified as a carbohydrate, rice provides sustaining energy. It depends on the type, but generally rice is a good source of calcium, thiamine, pantothenic acid, folate and vitamin E. Red rice provides additional levels of iron and zinc, and black rice is rich in anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. And rice that hasn’t had the bran polished off provides high levels of fiber and small amounts of protein.

kurogome

Raw black rice

Because rice is eaten around the world, it is a key crop used to help reduce or prevent hunger and malnutrition. As a source of readily-absorbed energy, eating rice mitigates starvation. Genetically-modified rice such as Golden Rice, “iron-clad” rice and “high zinc-uptake” rice are new varieties that help to provide vitamin A, iron and zinc to people whose diets severely lack these necessary nutrients.

So, rice is good for you… but people really love rice because of how it tastes.

Rice is considered a delicious food across numerous cultures, whether it is served plain or highly seasoned. While different types of rice are preferred in Southeast Asian, Indian, Latin American and Western cultures, Japanese people typically find short-grain rice to be the most delicious.

bento

Short-grain white rice in a Japanese bento

Rice is composed of two types of starch molecules: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is a long-chain starch molecule that keeps rice firm and prevents it from gelatinizing. Long-grain rice has a high amylose content and will cook up defined and fluffy grains that won’t stick together. Amylopectin is a short-chain, branched starch molecule and rice that has a high amylopectin content will cook up sticky, soft, and creamy depending on the amount of water added to cook.

When rice cooks, the heat and cooking liquid break down the starch molecules and activate them, so the grains become soft to eat. Short-grain rice is higher in amylopectin than in amylose, so when it is cooked, the rice grains will plump up and stick together. Many Japanese people prefer the texture and the taste of this type of rice because it is the perfect complement to delicately flavored Japanese dishes.

What kind of rice is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!