Friday, March 02, 2007

Oh, The Pressure

My rice cooker broke down recently, and I was forced to replace it. According to my Korean friends, rice is to a Korean what bread is to an American. The new one is reportedly a durable brand and will last longer than 2 years. It also cooks the rice under pressure, kind of a computerized pressure cooker! I couldn't believe when people told me that this kind of rice cooking resulted in better tasting rice, but having experienced it, I must agree. If I could understand Korean, I could also use this as a general purpose pressure cooker. For example, in the cooking manual that came with it, there are plenty of example photos of food like potatoes or fish being cooked in this cooker. As it is, I can barely read the main buttons I need to simply cook rice. This has a vast array of options and buttons, an LCD display, and it even talks to you at various stages of the cooking process (of course, in Korean).

I was so intimidated by the complexity of this machine it sat on the counter for almost a week before I had the courage to try it out. Adding to my fear was a discussion I had with my friend CH about an older brand of pressure rice cookers that had a defect which caused them to explode (not my brand). This was further driven home by a news story just 2 days after I bought my new cooker featuring a housewife who was severely injured by one of these exploding cookers. They showed her laid up in the hospital bed, with bandages all over her head, arms, and a broken leg!

I threw caution to the wind and started using my cooker, after getting the clear instructions from my friends. I have not yet experienced any explosions, although I remember one incident the first few times I was using it. As the rice was cooking, I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. When the machine started to hiss and spit steam, and the regulator was rattling, I decided to walk around the table and read my paper at the sofa, a safe distance away.

One final comment. We all know about the consumers who can't even set the time on the VCR. Well, this rice machine has a clock on it. When I unpacked it from the carton, I noticed that the clock was running and it had the correct time displayed! Mind you, this thing was not even plugged it yet! I was impressed.


Mama Stumbler said...

Have no fear! Hissing and steam spitting as well as rattling are all quite normal for a pressure cooker. It looks quite delightful. How long does it take to cook the rice? Is the ideal Korean rice sticky or separate flakes? Now that I've seen this wonder, my pitiful little rice steamer seems rather archaic!

Chris said...

I haven't made a batch in a few days, I recall it takes around 15 minutes. And it is very sticky, and can easily be eaten with chopsticks. Which is unusual, now that I think about it. I have been told that in general Koreans use a spoon to eat their rice.

Another interesting feature is that after cooking, it displays how many hours it has been warming. My korean friends tell me one batch of rice is only good up to about 48 hours after it is made. After that, I have sometimes used it to make fried rice.

I have never checked in the USA to see if they sell these cookers or not. I was surprised at the assortment and variety of them available in the store, here.

Mrs. Stumbler didn't want one of these in the USA, because she doesn't have the counter space for another appliance. Furthermore, I told her that she (and you, too) would be disappointed if I brought home one of these cookers from Korea, since the plug would not fit in your kitchen electrical outlets (remember the heating pad with rocks I brought you).

Mama Stumbler said...

Yes indeed I do remember that heating pad. I am nestled up on it right now. Don't throw your delightful pot away when you return home. Bring it to me. I may not have too much counter space, but I do have the means to plug it in! Plug geometry is no barrier. In fact I just gave my standard 'foreign power' lecture to Kevin. I think they are leaving tomorrow for Viet Nam to pick up the 2 babies they are adopting.