Discover more from Umami Days Newsletter
#37 The rice cooker chronicles
College kids popularized the use of the rice cooker to make dorm meals. But, seriously, the rice cooker can perform way beyond dorm meals.
This issue of the newsletter was supposed to go out last Monday, but I was so busy experimenting with my new tiny rice cooker. Unlike rice cookers of old, I can saute and even brown meat in this one.
Fascinating, really. Of course, I’ve known for a while that rice cookers these days are more multi-cookers that plain rice cookers. The one we’ve had for the past few years is also a slow cooker and has a separate setting for cooking congee.
But I didn’t know it was possible to cook with oil using some models. Saute in the rice cooker? Brown meat in it? That’s a game changer for me.
Because the heat this year has been awful and we had been planning on replacing the gas stove with an induction hob to minimize trapped heat inside the house. But it turned out we’d have to have electrical work done before we can install an induction hob which requires a lot of power. If it’s plugged into an ordinary socket, something will explode and the entire house won’t have electricity. And that’s being optimistic. It can be worse.
So, we thought of alternatives. Use the air fryer instead of the oven. And, after buying a small inexpensive rice cooker designed for living in the 21st century, cook in it instead of turning on the gas stove. Not all the time, of course, but as much as possible.
Here is a hearty soup that I cooked in the two-liter rice cooker and steamer basket that came with it. You may, of course, cook the soup on the stovetop using a regular pot.
Pork, tofu and dumpling soup
300 grams thinly sliced pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cake silken tofu (about 300 grams), cut into small squares
1 small Chinese cabbage (wombok), cut vertically into quarters
12 frozen dumplings (store bought)
Make the soup:
Place the pork in a mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame seed oil. Mix well.
Switch the rice cooker on (if yours have LOW and HIGH setting, stay on LOW for now) and pour in the cooking oil.
Saute the onion until just a bit softened.
Spread the pork on the hot oil, do not disturb for about half a minute then stir to separate the slices. Cook until the edges are starting to brown.
Turn up the heat to HIGH, pour in the broth, add the carrot slices, tofu, Chinese cabbage and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper.
Arrange the frozen dumplings in the steamer basket, put the basket in place and cover. Turn down the heat to LOW. Cook the soup and steam the dumplings at the same time. Ten to 12 minutes should be enough.
Ladle the soup into bowls and drop in dumplings on the side. Optionally, sprinkle in sliced scallions before serving.
New recipes in the blog
Vietnamese-style sweet sour salmon soup - Inspired by canh chua, Vietnamese sweet and sour soup, the flavor of the broth comes from the combination of sour tamarind juice and chunks of sweet ripe pineapple. Get the recipe.
Sweet sour chicken karaage - Japanese fried chicken (karaage) is combined with vegetables, fresh pineapple chunks and Chinese-style sweet sour sauce. Serve as a snack or with rice as a main course. Get the recipe.
Salmon, potato and egg salad - Boiled potatoes, broiled salmon and egg halves are tossed with a simple dressing made with olive oil, dill, pickle relish, capers, pickle juice, lemon juice, grated garlic and lemon zest. Get the recipe.
Beef tendon with soy chili garlic ginger sauce - Beef tendon is cooked to tenderness in the slow cooker, cooled, chilled, cut into bite-sized pieces then braised shortly in a savory sweet-salty sauce spiked with chili flakes. Get the recipe.