I am a white boy, so I grew up in a house where making rice or tea always involved a microwave and a packet of something in the kitchen. So, apparently, I was out of the loop. But I’ve learned.
My wife, Teresa, who is of Taiwanese descent, quickly set about getting these two basic countertop appliances for our kitchen after we were married. Not having a rice cooker was like not having an oven or a refrigerator to her.
I was skeptical, especially of a “hot water maker” taking up our valuable counter space. After some time using them, I have to agree, I’d never want to live without them.
Normally, gimmicky kitchen appliances like bread makers and crock pots drive me nuts (I like my space more than the limited function of these things), but these two really have made a difference.
The Rice Cooker
First of all, no one should be eating instant rice any more. It’s not rice; it’s barely even food. Making rice in a pot works but it’s time consuming, you have to watch it and results can vary widely.
My wife taught me to see the light. The truth is, everyone (at least among families who eat a lot of rice) is on board with rice cookers. My wife’s family (Taiwanese-Americans) has been using cookers for decades. If you eat rice, you should too.
How does it work?
The maker comes with a measuring cup. You scoop up as many cups of rice as you want and dump it in the maker’s pot. Then you rinse with cold water a few times, and fill it back up to the line matching the number of cups you used.
You press a button. Rice comes out. When you’re done, just rinse the pot. There’s almost no cleanup or maintenance. And it tastes perfect every time.
Rice makers not only make rice in a foolproof way, they keep it warm and ready to eat for 24 hours or more. If you eat rice at all, you need this.
There are many brands of these things and most of them work just fine. The best, in my opinion, are made by the Japanese company called Zojirushi.
This one makes white, brown, sushi or really any sort of rice perfectly, and it even makes cakes and bread. In my experience, the Zojirushi brand keeps the rice warm for a longer period of time (2-3 days) than cheaper cookers without burning it.
We buy our rice (Kokuho Rose brand) from the local Asian grocery in huge bags and so it’s just so easy to always have rice on hand.
kitchen hot water dispenser
Drink tea (especially loose tea)? Eat instant noodles or soups? You need this. I was skeptical, but my wife told me that many Asian families use these and love them.
At first, I didn’t see the value… It boils water. You think – big whoop – I have a kettle for that, right?
Does your old kettle keep water at exactly the right temperature for green tea 24 hours a day? Can it bring that water to a boil (for soup or black tea) almost immediately?
Does it neatly dispense the water into your cup or teapot at the push of a button? Right. This is a must-have.
Simply set the temperature you wish to keep your water at and leave it alone. You will be amazed how quickly you can make a fresh cup or pot of tea on a busy morning.
When you need it, just push the button. Getting empty? Just refill it with cold water and it automatically comes back up to the set temperature.
Instant hot water is also useful for many cooking applications. Again, Zojirushi is a great brand to look for, especially because it plays a little song when the water is ready.
Try them out. Soon you will consider both of these items staples of your kitchen!