January 21, 2008

Zen and the heart of Rice Cooking

Filed under: philosophy,rice — Jose @ 9:28 pm

You’d be hard pressed to find a more Zen kitchen appliance than the rice cooker. To power it on, you plug it in . To cook, you press the one and only option available. Seems pretty straight forward eh?. If you believe you can just toss some rice and water in there and get some tasty rice in 15 minutes, well, you’d be a straight fool.

Status Quo

Your normal (not the hyper-Japanese versions with 3 Cray supercomputers and a flux capacitor up in there) everyday rice cooker is a pretty simple device. When you press “cook” it conducts heat, via that springy center part (and only if the spring is fully depressed) to the aluminum/metal cooking vessel. It continues to do so until the temperature goes north of 212 Farenheit (100C). It’s no coincidence that’s the same temperature of boiling water. The “warm” setting, oddly enough, is self explanatory. In a bid to end the confusion, I propose a new interface:



Based on your comments (I don’t take them lightly), I’ll consider submitting to the Pan-Asian Rice Cooker and Electric Kettle Manufacturers (PARCEKM™) association.

It’s goin down:

2 cups White, Long grain enriched rice (When in doubt, go Mahatma)
2 1/3 cups Water
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Granulated Salt

Put the rice in a strainer and run cold water through it for a minute or so until the water is clear. Toss into the rice cooker. Add the salt, oil and water. Stir, cover and press COOK–Wait, I almost forgot the secret ingredient: Add a smashed garlic clove (peel and all) to the rice, then cover, and press COOK. At this point, go pour yourself a glass of Johnnie Black on the rrrocas and kickback for 15 to 20.


Do not take the lid off to see if the rice is done. This has been taken care of for you. The rice cooker panics when things get too hot and goes into WARM mode and that is when you wait another 5-10 minutes. Go ahead and try to press COOK. You think you know the rice cooker, huh? You think you can confuse the rice cooker? As sure as espumita on your tia’s cafecito, he will click-clack right back to the happy lands of WARM.

You’ve waited 10 minutes now, rice is done right? CAN HAZ RAIS? Sorry. No.

Go to the rice cooker and fluff the rice, with your 69¢ oversized wood fork you bought at IKEA because man, 69¢! Seriously, there is no better tool. When fluffing, do be gentle but be aggresive.  Turn over the entirety of the rice in 4-6 strokes if possible.  Be careful not to scrape the rice off the bottom (raspita) but pretty darn close. Now, let it sit for another 5-10 minutes and you are good to go. The raspita is now available as well.

Things to observe:

  1. The grains are singular yet cohesive. All too happy to form a temporary partnership to enter your watering mouth, yet not afraid to stand out on there own, be it on your pants or beard.
  2. Note the slight roasted garlic flavor, salt and oil.
  3. Listen how it craves to swim amongst the beans, be they red, black or white… Not such a bad thing on this MLK day.


  1. […] After another 2 or 3 minutes, toss in the sliced onion and stir fry a bit.  When the onions have begun to get soft ( about a minute) add a “chorro” of the reserved mojo and continue stir-frying.  Oh yeah, un “chorro” equals about 3 tablespoons.  You’ll get some nice steam action to finish cooking the onions along with mad flava.  Stir fry for another minute or so and once the mojo has mostly evaporated, pour out onto a platter.  I like this best with just white rice but I ain’t gonna complain about some frijoles negros over the rice. […]

    Pingback by Chicken Vaca Frita | arrozyfrijoles.com — February 3, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  2. I’m a girl from Argentina with a Cuban boyfriend whose mother makes the best arroz. I fancy myself a good cook but rice…rice?!! Not my specialty. Try to find anyone from my country who’ll even admit to eating or even making it (my mother says it’s because the quality of the rice over there is not as good as one finds here); we’re potatoes and pasta folk. So I asked Santa for a “hitachi” (I did go to high school and college in Miami so I know that’s the word for rice cooker) and got it. Now what?! Thank God for Google because that’s how I found your site. MENOS MAL! I now have that receta. Quick question: what’s the arroz brand of choice? Anything on sale at Sedanos? Mahatma?? Help!

    Comment by Veronica (from the mean streets of Coral Gables) — January 2, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  3. p.s.: I just went back to the recipe and noticed your Mahatma suggestion. Gracias!!!

    Comment by Veronica (from the mean streets of Coral Gables) — January 2, 2010 @ 12:55 am

  4. Hi Veronica! You’re right that no self-respecting Cubano in Miami shops anywhere that isn’t Navarro, Sedano’s or Publix. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has to improvise and that’s where Walgreens and it’s 24hr goodness comes in… BTW, you are 100% correct that a rice cooker is a “Hitachi” and it is also true that the comment made me LOL. Also, I just checked out your site (berry nice) and you should know the world is small–Say hi to Jorge Delgado for me next time you see him.

    Comment by Jose — January 2, 2010 @ 6:47 am

  5. […] add a splash of dry sherry (about 1 tablespoon) and cover for at least 10 minutes. Serve with white rice and some fried plantains. Black beans are not required but, as usual, always […]

    Pingback by Picadillo | arrozyfrijoles.com — May 19, 2010 @ 5:06 am

  6. Where can i find a hutachi rice cooker with chime? Mine broke and i want to replace it ASAp
    thank you

    Comment by becky — May 18, 2016 @ 7:56 pm

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