A rice cooker takes the guesswork out of cooking rice and rice dishes. If you're fortunate enough to own a rice cooker with a steamer basket, then the versatile little machine will make steaming foods a pleasure without heating up your kitchen. Although there are small differences between makes and models of rice cookers, they all use the same basic instructions.
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Using the Rice Cooker
Remove the steamer tray from the inner basket of the cooker and set aside. In the inner basket, measure half as much rice as you want for the meal. For instance if you need 4 cups rice, you would use 2 cups of uncooked rice. Add in double the amount of water, i.e., 2 cups rice and 4 cups water. If you are cooking brown rice, add an additional 1/2 cup of water for each cup of uncooked brown rice, i.e., 2 cups brown rice and 5 cups of water. Place the basket into the cooker and close the lid. Press the "Cook" or "Steam" button on the machine. The machine will either automatically shut off or convert to a "keep warm" setting when the rice is done.
Using the Steamer
Place up to two inches of water in the inner basket of the rice cooker. Most vegetables and seafood need only 1 inch of water to fully cook, while chicken and other meats may need a full 2 inches to cook fully. Place the food to be steamed in the steamer basket and set it on top of the inner basket. The cooker will automatically shut off or switch to "keep warm" when the water in the cooker has steamed away.
Tips for Safe Cooking
Always open the lid of a rice cooker away from your body and face. The escaping steam can burn. In most cooker/steamer machines, you can only do one form of cooking at a time. Many inner rice baskets are made with coated aluminum, take care when washing that you don't scratch the coating. Make sure to keep the steam well clean as it can clog and keep the machine from operating safely.