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"a mystery of the Orient"
March 24, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe


 
To repeat, get the Pot. I have had about a dozen over the years. I always buy Zojirushi. I have no idea if that is the best.

Direct and unabashedly honest. TL, but not DR. Someone give Roger Ebert a show on the Food Network.
posted by battlebison at 1:55 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


In my house the rice is frequently the last part of dinner to finish cooking (did you remember to start the rice?) so that "ka-chunk" sound our cheapo machine makes is always welcome, means it's time to eat.
posted by ghharr at 1:56 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another Ebert post? Really? I mean...

hey

wait

This one's really good. Carry on.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:58 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I respect his taste in hot sauce.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:00 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bittersweet -- he leads the way for us time-strapped or lazy cooks to feed ourselves well, but is no longer able to share in it. (And judging by the date of that post, probably wasn't able to do so at that time, either.)
posted by Madamina at 2:08 PM on March 24, 2010


We ate so much rice in college it's a wonder that I didn't get scurvy. Or beriberi. Or something. We lived on this. We'd buy the fifty pound bag and -- if we were lucky -- we could add something to it to flavor it. To this day I hate macaroni and cheese and ramen, but good ol' white rice still works fine. (That) pot is a college kid's best friend.
posted by norm at 2:10 PM on March 24, 2010


Madamina, it also struck me as bittersweet. He writes in that article: "To be sure, health problems now prevent me from eating. That has not discouraged my cooking. Now cooking is an exercise more pure, freed of biological compulsion."
posted by tastybrains at 2:12 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


The best, cheapest way to make rice into a meal is furikake.

The reason it knows when to stop is [SPOILER WARNING] all of the moisture is absorbed by the rice and the temperature goes up when it is done. [END SPOILER WARNING]

The best thing to do with rice at burning man is SPAM musubi.
posted by poe at 2:15 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's awesome, though I thought at first it was some kind of parody of Ebert. I guess serious illness gets you to the point.
posted by msalt at 2:32 PM on March 24, 2010


I always buy Zojirushi. I have no idea if that is the best.

It is the best. Well done, Mr. Ebert.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:40 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah damn, Joey scoped me.

I liked my first Zojirushi so much I did everything I could to break it so I would have a reason to buy a newer model. It's a great multitasker and timesaver.
posted by splice at 2:45 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


My Japanese-American wife would probably be horrified at my using our beloved rice cooker for anything but Japanese (and occasionally, basmati) rice. Minute Rice? I don't think so. When we got married twenty years ago, one of us got rid of our rice cooker. You only need one. Cheap, twenty-plus years old, still dings ten minutes before we have dinner.

One hint, for perfect short grain Japanese rice, cook three or four cups (by cups I mean those little measuring cups that come with the rice cooker and is really two thirds of a cup...I always wondered, just measured). And put a little less water than is called for. A little below the lines. Otherwise it might get mushy.

You can choose between my wife and Ebert. However, I can't.
posted by kozad at 2:45 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Timely; I've been frustrated at my own rice-cooking attempts (pan-cooking is tricky and I've had to throw a few batches out). Will borrow my roommate's new rice cooker and give it a shot this weekend.

Homemade spicy refried pinto bean burritos (with lots of onion, garlic and peppers in the cooking process to turn up the heat) topped with grilled yellow onion, jack cheese and tomatillo salsa, with homemade rice on the side, is a real treat.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:46 PM on March 24, 2010


I think Roger Ebert just changed my life again.
posted by swift at 2:57 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how he refrains from calling it a rice cooker, because it'll cook so many good things!

(Heading down stairs to fire up my Pot now. Quinoa tonight.)
posted by Galen at 2:58 PM on March 24, 2010


Loved the high school magic rice cooker video at the end.

I hope this kid knows Roger Ebert likes his movie.
posted by fontophilic at 2:59 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


@fontophilic: You can tell the director, if you like.
posted by Galen at 3:02 PM on March 24, 2010


I read this years ago when it was first published on his blog, but I never really acted on any of the ideas he expressed. Seeing it here again inspired me to give it a whirl tonight. Some brown rice, a handful of wild, some pieces of chicken thigh, chopped broccoli and mushrooms, maybe some curry powder... It sounds so easy, what could go wrong?
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 3:09 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing that has always set Roger apart from other reviewers is his enthusiam and love of movies. There have been times I have read one of his reviews about a movie I disliked or wasn't interested in seeing, only to second guess myself and think, "Hmmm, maybe I didn't give that film a chance, maybe I'll give it another shot."

So, even though I a) have cut back on carbs and b) have a perfectly good Oster food steamer that makes great steamed rice and vegetables, still I find myself thinking about Japanese rice steamers.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:23 PM on March 24, 2010


I cook rice in a pan.

Ratio of roughly 1:1.5 (rice:water).

Bring it to the boil, uncovered.
Cover tightly with lid (with a layer of tinfoil if necessary).
Reduce heat to low.
Wait 5 minutes.
Turn the heat off.
Wait 5 minutes.

Your rice is done.

I find this quicker, and for some reason more satisfying, than using a rice cooker.
posted by knapah at 3:33 PM on March 24, 2010


Madamina, it also struck me as bittersweet. He writes in that article: "To be sure, health problems now prevent me from eating. That has not discouraged my cooking. Now cooking is an exercise more pure, freed of biological compulsion."

Yeah, this is a really sad sort of thing.


There have been times I have read one of his reviews about a movie I disliked or wasn't interested in seeing, only to second guess myself and think, "Hmmm, maybe I didn't give that film a chance, maybe I'll give it another shot."

This review got me to go see Lilo and Stitch, for which I am very grateful to Roger Ebert.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:34 PM on March 24, 2010


My pot just died after an extravagant sushi feast. Lets see how long I make it without my pot.
I'll try knapah's suggestion from above.
posted by Kale Slayer at 3:41 PM on March 24, 2010


"In this country, you gotta get the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the rice. When you get the rice, you get the pot. Then when you get the pot, you get the dinner."
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:52 PM on March 24, 2010


I loves me my cheap little rice cooker, too. Same deal...On and Warm. Proudly unitasking!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 PM on March 24, 2010


I am incapable of cooking rice. I forget to set timers, I don't turn down the heat, I put in too much water. Just useless. I need a pot.
posted by saffry at 4:44 PM on March 24, 2010


My ex has an aluminum rice-cooking pot, nearly as wide as a Dutch oven but maybe about half as high, that made perfect rice. I miss that pot a heck of a lot more than I miss her.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:32 PM on March 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ebert has turned into this generation's Ben Franklin! What a wise article!
posted by Catblack at 5:47 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aunt Mary and her tater, honey.
posted by tellurian at 5:49 PM on March 24, 2010


You, solitary writer, artist, musician, potter, plumber, builder, hermit. You, parents with kids. You, night watchman. You, obsessed computer programmer or weary web-worker. You, lovers who like to cook together but don't want to put anything in the oven. You, in the witness protection program. You, nutritional wingnut. You, in a wheelchair.

And you, serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. You, person on a small budget who wants healthy food. You, shut-in. You, recovering campaign worker. You, movie critic at Sundance. You, sex worker waiting for the phone to ring. You, factory worker sick of frozen meals. You, people in Werner Herzog's documentary about life at the South Pole. You, early riser skipping breakfast. You, teenager home alone. You, rabbi, pastor, priest,, nun, waitress, community organizer, monk, nurse, starving actor, taxi driver, long-haul driver. Yes, you, reader of the second-best best-written blog on the internet.


OH MY GOD WHICH ONE AM I
posted by regicide is good for you at 5:53 PM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Love love LOVE the Augie March reference ("An American, Urbana-born, and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make a cookbook in my own way.")
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:32 PM on March 24, 2010


I would love to have a Zojirushi but I'll have to wait until my Panasonic fuzzy-logic dies first. I used to only eat white jasmine rice, but have recently fallen for Japanese brown rice. At first I found the brown rice too rough to eat, even when I cook it with extra water and with the "brown rice" setting, but one time I forgot my rice and left it soaking in cold water for 24 hours, and then it tasted sweeter and much softer. Then I realized my rice had sprouted. Since then I've always sprouted my brown rice. Soaking in warm water speeds it up to less than 10 hours even. The internet tells me that people commonly do this, so I hope it's not bad for me (I believe certain things you should not sprout?). Anyone know for sure?
posted by bread-eater at 6:32 PM on March 24, 2010


I believe certain things you should not sprout?

The green parts of the potato plant are poison. So any green in your potato from sprouting buds is bad news. Haven't heard that about any other foodstuff.
posted by maxwelton at 7:03 PM on March 24, 2010


WTH?

Pour rice into pot, rinse with water twice. Fill pot with water such that the height is just below the height of the rice. Turn on boiler on medium/high (or rice cooker COOK) for about 20 minutes.

Stir up rice, leave lid on, let steam for a couple more minutes.

I've seen old films with white people who were stuck in Asia/HongKong and they're cooking rice in a skillet. Out of interest, I've done it before (with chicken broth) and... if makes good rice.

Good rice is about the amount of water to amount of rice and the speed of cooking. But then again, I've had "Uncle Benz" and it isn't bad. Just not good. Done by instructions, it's been better than some of the rice preps that I've done (albeit, drunk). The taste of the rice, is another matter altogether.
posted by porpoise at 7:19 PM on March 24, 2010


Thank you, Roger Ebert and anotherpanacea, I will carry a rice cooker with me to space.

Preferably a Zojirushi.
posted by humannaire at 7:32 PM on March 24, 2010


I don't use a rice cooker, but I learned 2 _main_ rules of making rice: 1. leave it alone until done (i.e. don't mix with a paddle) 2. when done and water is boiled out and rice is slightly stuck to the bottom of pot, fluff it with a fork and let stand for ~5 min. Rule 2.a add a bit of low sodium soy sauce 5 min before it's done. That's _it_.
posted by rainy at 7:34 PM on March 24, 2010


The internet tells me that people commonly do this, so I hope it's not bad for me (I believe certain things you should not sprout?). Anyone know for sure?

I've always heard that pre-soaking rice or other grains before cooking increases the protein content of the final product. I never felt compelled to track down why, but if your rice is sprouting, I now have my answer. You're doing a good thing, keep it up.
posted by nevercalm at 8:30 PM on March 24, 2010


I've always heard that pre-soaking rice or other grains before cooking increases the protein content of the final product.

It might make the protein more available, but I would be gobsmacked if it actually increased the protein content.

In barley at least, sprouting causes increased enzyme activity, which can break down starch into sugar (sprouted grains are sweeter) and proteins into smaller proteins and amino acids. Incidentally, the malting of barley before turning it into to beer was seen as a proof of the qualify of the grain. Shitty grain won't sprout.
posted by exogenous at 8:47 PM on March 24, 2010


Yeah, I make rice in a pot.

Pour rice into pot, rince with water thrice. Fill pot with water about a centimeter or two above the rice. (This is all about feel - some Korean mothers will claim that you should put enough water so that it comes up to the second joint of your index finger, etc. It's all about feel, though.) Put pot on a high flame with the lid on until it boils, at which point you immediately reduce the flame to the smallest flame you have and leave the lid on for at least twenty minutes. Bingo.

On the other hand, my parents' high-tech vacuum-pressurized timered always-warm rice cooker is pretty fun, too. I guess if I ate rice every single day like they do I'd get one of those as well.
posted by suedehead at 8:55 PM on March 24, 2010


We ate so much rice in college it's a wonder that I didn't get scurvy. Or beriberi. Or something. We lived on this. We'd buy the fifty pound bag and -- if we were lucky -- we could add something to it to flavor it. To this day I hate macaroni and cheese and ramen, but good ol' white rice still works fine. (That) pot is a college kid's best friend.

This was exactly my experience, freshman year I bought a $12 red rice cooker from Target and used it until it died. All of my meals where: rice + [vegetable] + [beans].

Actually, a lot of my meals still follow that formula, but now I can buy more expensive veggies, yay adulthood!
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 9:00 PM on March 24, 2010


For short grain Asian style rice that you want fluffy and sticky but not mushy: Rinse rice well. Rice 3 to water 4 in pot. Bring to boil. Cover and immediately lower to extra low and cook for 18 min. Turn on high for 10 seconds, then turn off the heat. In a few minutes, carefully lift off the lid and tilt away off the pot so the condensation does not fall onto the rice. Fluff, re-cover and let stand 5 minutes. Perfect every time.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:20 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not supposed to sprout kidney beans, apparently.
posted by Ouisch at 10:59 PM on March 24, 2010


Marie Sharps really is the best hot sauce I have ever had. My family is from Belize and I hoard bottles of it any time myself or anyone I know goes or comes to me to visit. I've also found an online source - but they charge about $10 for a small bottle and in Belize its more like $2US for the big ones. Their hottest habanero still has excellent flavour but my favourite is the grapefuit pulp habanero, which is amazing on pizza.

Also, the Marie Sharps pineapple jam.
posted by jeffmik at 1:22 AM on March 25, 2010


I've had excellent results cooking rice in the oven. Boil your water, pour it into a casserole dish with your rice, stir it around a bit, cover with foil and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or so. It takes a bit longer, but it's always perfect. That's the Cook's Illustrated way, anyway.
posted by Shohn at 5:20 AM on March 25, 2010


Am I the only one who thought this was going to be about smoking dope?
posted by Daddy-O at 5:43 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a rice cooker and my rice always turns out badly. Always mushy and stuck together (and I do fluff with a fork, I do!) I'm going to try and see what I'm doing wrong by comparing what I do (pour a metric cup of rice into pot along with one and half cups of water and then pressing the cook button) with what everyone else is doing. I love rice but I hate my rice. My rice sucks.
posted by h00py at 6:34 AM on March 25, 2010


Me too h00py. Every time I've used my cooker I get two results: the rice is either under or over done, and there's a disgusting rice-cake crust near the element. I don't know if it's because I'm cooking too little for the size of the pot, or if I'm somehow messing up the simplest thing to do in cooking. I've thought about posting an AskMe.
posted by codacorolla at 6:50 AM on March 25, 2010


Can we talk more about that film for a minute?
posted by thejoshu at 6:50 AM on March 25, 2010


I boil two cups of water and about a teaspoon of butter in a regular sauce pot, add one cup of rice, let it simmer on very low heat for half an hour, and it almost always works out fine.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2010


bread-eater, congratulations! You have stumbled upon GABA brown rice.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 9:37 AM on March 25, 2010


As a life-long fundamental failure at rice cooking, I was thrilled and amazed when I was gifted a rice cooker and I COOKED MY RICE PERFECTLY! I <3>I have a friend who always fails at Mac & Cheese and, despite my efforts to teach her, my daughter cannot brown ground beef. It seems it's the simplest things we're failing on, here.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:01 AM on March 25, 2010


In the essay or the comments, no one has mentioned the steamer tray. It's available only in the ultra high end fuzzy logic ones or on the $14 mainland chinese rice cookers, but it becomes essential.

You can rewarm old stir frys or chilis! You can cook chinese stuffed buns! Potatoes! Mushrooms and Basil! Sausage (Chinese or otherwise)! and the best -- mutherfuckin' steamed carrots!

Steamer trays cut potential meal prep time to near zero, or at least as quick as ordering a pizza.
posted by sleslie at 1:03 PM on March 25, 2010


I learned how to make rice with a saucepan and a tight fitting lid long ago when I was starving and broke. I always stick to that, because I know how to get it right no matter whose kitchen I'm in. But recently I tried sushi rice. Much more difficult - tried a lot of different complicated techniques and recommendations and it always came out too mushy or pasty. I finally got it when my foodie co-worker who lived in Hawaii told me to use the knuckle trick to measure the water (just like with other rice), and rinse the rice thoroughly but don't soak it. And of course it needs to be cooled down and mixed with sweetened vinegar. Came out perfect, and it's easy.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:38 PM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


And I kinda stick to my crock pot for things like this, but still, I like resourceful cooks who enjoy food, and this is fun.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:39 PM on March 25, 2010


I've had excellent results cooking rice in the oven. Boil your water, pour it into a casserole dish with your rice, stir it around a bit, cover with foil and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or so. It takes a bit longer, but it's always perfect. That's the Cook's Illustrated way, anyway.

That's probably more consistent than a lot of people get with stove-top but pretty inefficient. Takes a lot of heat to make a little rice.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:44 PM on March 25, 2010


I just fucking love Roger Ebert. He is so great. Not an ounce of cliche in the man. Honest, funny, and rhythmic prose.
posted by e.e. coli at 4:54 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]




Somehow I missed that the OP essay was from November 2008. Has he been sick that long? Hell, I admire him even more.

I tried my Panasonic pot the Ebert way Saturday night -- gave it a tough mix by design, spelt/rice/barley blend from Trader Joe's with raw chopped green onions, carrots, mushrooms and spinach and a little better than bouillon. Came out perfectly. I'm sold!
posted by msalt at 9:26 PM on March 29, 2010


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