The trivial mention of rice cookers rings bells of convenience, ease and zero intricacy. The first electric rice cooker was first invented in 1945; it is a very basic aluminium pot with a heating coil inside, with no automatic turn-off facility, and required constant monitoring during cooking. The first commercially successful automatic electric rice cooker was placed on the market in 1956, which uses a double-chamber indirect rice cooking method. Initial models did not have a keep-warm feature.
In the last decade, thanks to the ever-advancing technology, higher-end and deluxe models start appearing on the market, characterised by improved and added functions. The electric rice cooker is now a standard appliance in kitchens in most households.
As the modern generation steers away from traditions with novel ideas and cravings for the avant-garde, rice cookers nowadays are not only about producing quantities of cooked rice quickly and cheaply anymore. You can cook stews, soups, cakes, and you can even use it as a steamer if the rice cooker comes with the necessary accessories.
The Panasonic Microcomputer Controlled Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker (SR-MGS102) awes me with its multiple features. The Pre-Program Control Panel gives you the option of cooking white rice, brown rice, sticky rice, porridge or cake, with more precise cooking alternatives such as quick cook, slow cook and steam.
Here’s the recipe of a beef stew that I made, out of the mere hankering for comfort food. The quick cook function allows me to sauté the onions and garlic like how you would over the stove (except no fire is required here). The depth of the pot also means less splattering of oil. This dish has been stewed for 6 hours (with the help of the 24-hour preset timer, without having me keep an eye of the cooking process), and kept warm overnight till ready to devour. This cooking method yields tender chunks of beef that you can easily pull apart with no effort, and intensely flavoured potatoes and carrots that’s inherited all the natural beefy goodness.
– 800g beef chuck steak, cut into 3cm cubes
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 2 onions, sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– ½ tsp nutmeg powder
– 1 small pack of raisin
– 4 potatoes, cut into chunks (I wouldn’t recommend russet potatoes as it tends to disintegrate during prolonged cooking)
– 2 carrots, chopped into bite-sized chunks a little smaller than the potatoes
– 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 small bottle of your favourite red wine (I used a 187ml bottle)
– 250ml chicken stock
– 1 can tomato puree (I used a 410g can)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Basil leaves
– Parsley flakes for garnish
1) Wash the beef, pat dry, coat lightly in flour.
2) Heat oil in rice cooker using quick cook function and fry the meat till browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper then take out of the rice cooker.
3) Sauté onion in rice cooker using the same fat, stirring continually.
4) Add garlic, cinnamon stick and nutmeg powder, and continue sautéing.
5) Add tomato puree.
6) Add potatoes and carrot and leave to cook for a few minutes, covered.
7) Put meat back into the rice cooker and stir. Pour in red wine vinegar and let it slow-cook for about 5 minutes.
8) Add chicken stock to fully submerge the meat. Pour in red wine and cover. Slow-cook for 6 hours.
I started cooking this after dinner and left it to cook for 6 hours, before it switches automatically to keep-warm after 6 hours. I woke up the next morning with the entire house perfumed with the fragrance of the stew. We had it for lunch and it was gone before we knew it.
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