I cooked every rice type on the menu!

rice cooker display panel

Hello fellow rice fans and Happy New Year! This month I thought about how many menu settings there are on my rice cooker and how I never use anything but “white rice”. What if I made all the rice types available, just to see how they work? Do you think it would really make a difference? I put my rice cooker to the test!

Jasmine

We don’t eat much Jasmine rice at our house—we almost always make Japanese short grain so I’ve never experimented beyond “Regular” or “Quick”. I can tell you for a fact that “Quick” only takes about 35 minutes but there is a difference. You sacrifice a subtle, overall fluffiness that you get from soaking the grain in water for that extra time and it does affect the texture. I’m embarrassed to admit I use that setting a lot, especially if I’m having curry rice. If I’m topping my rice with curry, I’m just not all that fussy about my rice, you know what I mean?

But we had Thai food for dinner, and I wanted authentic Jasmine rice to go with it. So we decided to cook our own instead of eating the takeout one from the restaurant. thai food jasmine riceZojirushi warns in their manual that it may cook firmer than normal depending on the brand of the rice, but ours turned out perfectly. It was loose and not sticky, like Jasmine is supposed to be, and the fragrance of the rice really comes through when it’s fresh.

Porridge

This setting is used to make the watery rice gruel called “okayu” (pronounced oh-kah-yoo) that we eat when we’re not feeling well and have no appetite. It’s warm, comforting and easily digestible. The cooker did its job and left the rice in this soupy texture. Normally regular short grain is used for okayu.porridge in rice cooker

Personally, I like to have mine with the rice sprinkles that you can get at the Asian markets. It adds a great flavor to the rice, and if you have it with a pickled plum it’s healthy for you too. If you have this setting on your rice cooker, try this; I promise you’ll find it amazing. You don’t even have to be sick.rice gruel meal

Oatmeal

Even though our cooker doesn’t have an Oatmeal setting, you can use the Porridge menu to make oatmeal. We made a slight adjustment by adding twice the amount of oatmeal so that it wouldn’t come out too watery like the rice gruel. For more detailed information go to this page in Zojirushi and it will tell you exactly how to cook oatmeal and other types of rice.oatmeal in rice cooker

The advantage to using the rice cooker vs. in a pot on a stove? You don’t have to keep stirring it and watching it. We made it for breakfast and had a self-serve Oatmeal Bar.oatmeal breakfast bar

Sweet

The Sweet setting is used for mochi-gome (mochi rice). You can make a lot of Japanese style traditional desserts using this extra-glutinous rice, but all you need is a stand mixer to make real mochi. After it cooks, transfer the hot mochi rice to your mixing bowl. The Sweet setting does everything, so as long as you’ve measured correctly, you’ll get the super sticky texture you want. We didn’t have a dough hook for the mixer (recommended), so we used the flat beater attachment and it still worked fine. Just knead the mochi rice until you get real mochi.making mochi in stand mixer

Make sure you use a lot of corn starch to make the mochi easier to handle. WARNING: Sticky! If you can get red bean paste at your store, you can fill your mochi patties and form them into homemade Daifuku, a traditional dessert. making mochi with red bean pasteMy impressions of homemade mochi: if you have a chance to do this, do it! The freshness and natural sweetness of the rice gets enhanced, and the flavor is unbeatable. Store bought mochi doesn’t even come close. But the caveat is that clean-up might be a turn off to some—it really is hard to get off of everything. If anyone has any ideas about this let me know.

Mixed

The Mixed setting is used to make Takikomi Gohan, type of Japanese rice dish that you can make right in the pot from a kit that you can buy at the market. All the ingredients are in the box, so all you have to do is set it and forget it.

The extra cooking time allows the dashi flavored soup stock to infuse better into the rice so you get an umami flavored rice dish that goes perfectly with broiled fish or any light entree.

Here are two kinds of Takikomi Gohan that we made with the “Mixed” setting. Both were complete kits. This one is a mixed mushroom dish with bits of salmon.Japanese mixed rice with salmon

If you buy one that is more expensive, you can get one with chestnuts.Japanese mixed rice with chestnutsJust FYI, both of these Takikomi Gohan dishes are kits that come with everything you see, right out of the box. So easy!

Stay tuned for another post where I try the other menu settings on my rice cooker. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to explore your own rice settings—there’s so much you can do with it!

Products used in this post: Rice Cooker NP-HCC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2024

Hoka Hoka: The Sound of Perfectly Steamy Japanese White Rice

Freshly cooked rice in a traditional Japanese bowl and a pair of chopsticks holding a bite of rice with steam rising

In Japan, the sound of perfectly cooked white rice is known as “hoka hoka.” This onomatopoeia perfectly captures the gentle popping and bubbling of the rice grains as they cook, a sure sign that they are cooked to perfection.

Hoka hoka is a sound that we at Zojirushi love to hear. White rice is a staple food in Japan, and it’s essential to many traditional dishes. For rice to be considered perfectly cooked, it must be fluffy and tender, with each grain separate and distinct.

There are many different ways to cook white rice, but the most important thing is to use the right type of rice. Japanese rice is short-grain rice that is high in starch. This starch helps to create the fluffy texture that is characteristic of perfectly cooked Japanese rice. If you want to learn about different types of rice or see what rice looks like when it’s over or under-cooked, visit our Rice Guide here.

Uncooked white short grain rice in a flat woven basket, in the center a wooden square container filled with rice

Making White Rice

Ready to make some white rice now? Here are some tips for perfectly and deliciously cooked Japanese white rice in your Zojirushi rice cooker:

  • Use the correct type of rice. Japanese rice is short-grain rice that is high in starch. This starch helps to create the fluffy texture that is characteristic of perfectly cooked Japanese rice.
  • Rinse the rice thoroughly with cold water. This will remove any excess starch that can usually makes it clump, become yellow, and brown the bottom. It’s important to rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
  • Use the correct amount of water. The amount of water you use will depend on the type of rice you are using and the size of your rice cooker. Zojirushi rice cookers come with a measuring cup and a water level guide inside the cooking pan, so it’s easy to get the right amount of water.
  • Don’t open the lid while the rice is cooking. This will release steam and can make the rice tough.
  • Fluff the rice with the rice spatula after it’s cooked. This will release steam trapped in the rice and will separate the grains and make the rice light and fluffy.

White bowl with a red bottom and red lines from bottom to top, filled with white rice and a pair of chopsticks in front. Another bowl of rice in the back and a cup of tea

Hoka hoka is not only the sound of perfectly cooked white rice, it’s also a metaphor for the joy of eating a delicious Japanese meal. When you hear the sound of hoka hoka, you know that you are about to enjoy a taste of Japan!

At Zojirushi, we believe that everyone should be able to experience the joy of perfectly cooked Japanese white rice. Have you heard hoka hoka when making rice before? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter,

Elevate Your Rice with Zojirushi’s Induction Heater (IH) Rice Cookers!

Two flat top rice cookers side by side in two different sizes. The large one is on the left and the smaller on the right

Are you tired of cooking rice on the stovetop? Do you wish you could enjoy perfectly cooked rice every time you cook rice? If so, you need a Zojirushi Induction Heater (IH) rice cooker! Induction heating is a more efficient way to cook rice than traditional heating methods, which means that your rice will cook more evenly, produce fluffier rice, and will improve the deliciousness of your rice. If you haven’t met our IH rice cookers before, let us introduce you.

What is Induction Heater (IH) Technology?

See through rice cooker looking at the interior with the cooking pan filled with rice depicting the heat generated from induction heating and the path it moves with two arrows traveling from the center bottom moving up towards the center

IH technology utilizes electromagnetic energy, which uses the cooking pan as a conductor, generating heat instantly. Unlike traditional rice cookers that rely on conventional heating elements or a heating plate, the electromagnetic waves of the IH rice cooker generate quick and even heat within the inner cooking pan. This enables rapid and efficient heating, cooking the rice from all angles and eliminating any potential for unevenly cooked grains.

The Zojirushi IH Rice Cooker Lineup

Zojirushi offers a diverse range of IH rice cooker models, each designed to cater to your unique needs and preferences. Take a look at them below:

Zojirushi NP-NWC10/18

The Pressure Induction Heating Rice Cooker & Warmer uses pressurized cooking and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to cook perfect rice. Platinum infused nonstick inner cooking pan helps the rice cook sweeter. Pressure cooking helps turn beta starch into alpha starch for softer and easier to digest rice. Includes convenient settings like Jasmine, Congee, and Steel Cut Oatmeal settings.

Zojirushi NW-JEC10/18

Black rice cooker on the right and a tray with tea and a rice dish to the left, and a round vase with aesthetic branches with leavesMade in Japan with precision, the Pressure Induction Heating Rice Cooker & Warmer combines automatic pressure, artificial intelligence, premium convection, superior IH technology, and an iron coated platinum infused nonstick inner cooking pan to create perfect rice. Its exclusive “My Rice (49 ways)” setting will ensure that it cooks perfect rice tailored to your tastes, all while looking sleek and elegant. it will surely become a permanent fixture in your kitchen.

Zojirushi NW-QAC10/18

Bright kitchen with white marble countertops with a kitchen island and a modern rice cooker in black in the foregroundThis Japan-made Induction Heating Rice Cooker & Warmer uses superior Induction Heating (IH) technology to generate high heat and makes fine heat adjustments, which result in fluffier and more aromatic rice. The sleek and elegant flat-top design with an integrated control panel brings your kitchen to the next level.

Zojirushi NP-HCC10/18

Side view of the rice cooker along with a rice measuring cup and a spatula on the side of the rice cooker

If you are looking for a classic and timeless stainless steel look combined with our advanced Induction Heating System, then this is the one for you. The Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer uses high-tech Induction Heating (IH) technology to heat the inner cooking pan. Because of this special heating method, the rice cooker is able to make precise temperature adjustments to cook exceptional rice.

Zojirushi NP-GBC05

Side view of a stainless steel rice cooker with a spatula attached on the side and two rice measuring cups in the forefront.The 3-cup capacity Induction Heating (IH) System Rice Cooker & Warmer is ideal for singles and smaller families. It cooks as little as 1/2-cup of rice and takes up minimal space. Superior IH technology efficiently prepares flawless rice every time, even with smaller portions.

A Closer Look: Features & Functions

Close up of the rice cooker with the lid open taking a look at the area where the pan would be inserted

Zojirushi IH rice cookers have a variety of other features that make them the perfect kitchen appliance for any home cook. These include:

  • Micro Computerized: The rice cookers are equipped with a microcomputer that controls the cooking process precisely, ensuring that your rice is cooked perfectly every time.
  • Multiple cooking functions: In addition to cooking white rice, these rice cookers can also cook brown rice, sushi rice, porridge, and a variety of other grains.
  • Keep warm function: The rice cooker will keep your rice warm for up to 24 hours, so you can enjoy fresh, hot rice whenever you want.
  • Easy to clean: The inner cooking pan is non-stick coated, making cleanup a breeze.

Investing in a Zojirushi rice cooker means investing in quality and durability. Crafted with precision and built to last, our IH rice cookers are engineered to stand the test of time, providing you with years of culinary excellence. Cooking rice will never be the same!

To learn more about Zojirushi rice cooker technology, read our rice cooker guide. And remember to share your comments and rice ideas with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Pari Pari! Perfectly Crispy Senbei, Japan’s Gluten-Free Rice Crackers

Two dishes filled with an assortment of rice crackers served with a cup of green teaWhen it comes to Japanese snacks, there’s one crunchy treat that will always be a fan favorite: senbei crackers. These gluten-free crackers are made from rice, come in various flavors and textures, and have been a part of Japanese cuisine for centuries. So, what’s the history behind these addictive treats, and where can you find them?

History of Senbei
Rice crackers being grilled

Senbei crackers are said to have been introduced to Japan by the Chinese during the Tang Dynasty, around 737 AD. Originally made from ingredients like potato and wheat, gluten-free rice senbei became popularized during the Edo period, where rice was steamed, pounded into a dough, and then baked or grilled. This is around the same time that senbei started being flavored with soy sauce, as a light and salty cracker you could enjoy any time of day. 

Today, you can find them everywhere in Japan, from supermarkets to local street food stands. If you look hard enough, you can even find specialty senbei masters who will make you the delicious Japanee snack fresh from the grill!

 

Types of Senbei

Square plate surface with an assortment of rice crackers

One of the great things about senbei crackers is that there are so many different variations to try. Some, like zarame senbei, are sweet. Others, like kare senbei, are savory. Some are crispy and light, while others can be dense and chewy. There are even types of seafood senbei that are popular in Japan, incorporating ingredients like squid and fish as a popular bar snack. Whatever your taste preferences are, there’s a senbei out there for you.

Some of the most popular types of senbei include:

  • Shoyu senbei (soy sauce flavor)
  • Age senbei (fried senbei)
  • Atsuyaki senbei (thick senbei)
  • Kometsubu senbei (grains of rice senbei)
  • Nori senbei (seaweed senbei)
  • Nure senbei (wet senbei)
  • Usuyaki senbei (thin senbei)
  • Kuro Goma senbei (black sesame)
  • Togarashi senbei (spicy)
  • Zarame senbei (granulated sugar)

Smaller rice crackers in various shapes and colors

One of the most popular senbei you might recognize is the “arare” variety, made from glutinous rice. These small, bite-sized crackers come in various flavors, colors, and textures. They’re perfect for snacking on the go or adding to a lunchbox and are easy to find at any grocery store or Asian market.

 

Make Your Own Senbei

At Zojirushi, we make delicious Cheese Senbei with brown rice and parmesan cheese. It’s simple and easy to make; just pop it in the microwave!

Red bowl filled with rice crackers next to a small glass

In terms of taste, senbei crackers are hard to beat. These Japanese snacks are crunchy, satisfying, and packed with flavor. Have you tried senbei before? What’s your favorite type of senbei? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on. Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

How Is Rice Grown? A Complete Guide

The first step in how to grow rice is to prep the rice fields or rice paddy. Rice is planted anywhere between February and May, as it requires constant irrigation all season long. Unlike other crops, rice grows in heavy clay and silt loam soils because they can retain water. It’s widely grown throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and the southern United States.

To prepare the field, farmers will level the ground with GPS or laser-guided grading equipment, which helps the farmers conserve water. Then, fertilizer is added, and a few weeks later, the field will be ready for planting.

Planting

While the fields are irrigated with consistent levels of water, rice seeds will be soaked and planted into the fields. Sometimes, planes that are flying at up to 100 miles per hour will shoot out seeds into the fields, and other times, they will be planted by a grain drill.

Growing

Rice plants will quickly grow up to three feet within a few months of being planted. Farmers will continue to flood their fields to maintain water retention, and also punch holes into the fields for even and efficient watering. The key here is to conserve water while maintaining constant levels of irrigation to keep the rice plants fed and thriving. After a few months, you will be able to see the rice plants show grains on top of the plant, which means that they are maturing and will be ready for harvest.

Harvest, Milling, and Storage

Once the rice is mature, the water from the field is drained and the plants get harvested. The plants are then moved to drying facilities to reduce moisture content, so they are ready to be stored and milled.

Once dried, the hull is removed, which results in brown rice. Then, further removing of the bran layers, or “polishing,” leaves the inner grain, which is white rice. White rice is often enriched with vitamins to replace some of the nutrients lost during milling.

The Best Way to Prep Rice: Rice Cookers

Using a rice cooker is the best way to cook your rice. It’s easy, and most importantly, it will always be cooked perfectly every single time. At Zojirushi, we have dedicated ourselves to the art of perfect rice for many decades, and test thousands of pounds of rice every year! Learn more about our rice cookers by viewing our selection.

Isn’t it an amazing journey that rice takes to make it all the way to our tables? We are thinking we should cook a batch and enjoy it with greater appreciation. Don’t forget to share how you like to enjoy rice by using #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! We would love to see all your tasty rice dishes.