The most common kitchen appliance in some Eastern countries like Taiwan, a Chinese rice cooker effectively steams rice without burning or scorching it. There are many sizes to choose from, and some have additional options that can be helpful in cooking. You may plan to use a rice cooker to prepare other foods as well. A number of features are available that can make using this device easier, especially if you plan to transport the pot or use if for serving.
Anywhere from 1 to 14 cups (0.23 to 3.31 l) of rice can be prepared in a Chinese rice cooker. Smaller appliances use just 1 cup (0.23 l) of rice, and may take up very little space, making it a good choice for individual use. Units designed to prepare anywhere from 4 to 6 cups (0.95 to 1.42 l) of rice are generally ideal for families, but it usually takes slightly longer to cook rice in one of these models. Cookers that hold 7 cups (1.66 l) or more can be a good choice for large groups, but the price of a rice cooker this size can be considerably higher.
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You may want to use a Chinese rice cooker to prepare meat or vegetables, for which round bamboo steamers can be appropriate. These are normally big enough for several portions, and may be stackable to save space. Some electric varieties have separate sections for steaming different foods, and there are sometimes adjustable settings for each section. Reading the manual associated with each rice cooker you consider might give you information that can help you make a more informed decision.
If you plan to leave your Chinese rice cooker unattended, one with an automatic shutoff device can be a good choice. Some models may have a bell that rings or a timer that buzzes when the rice is finished. Rice cookers could be used while traveling. If this is something you are considering, a unit with two or three handles on each side and a tight-fitting glass or aluminum lid can make it easier to carry. Other models have areas for adding flavor or scent to your rice, and some have divided trays to cook several dishes at once.
A Chinese rice cooker can often be found at kitchen gadget and appliance stores. Some department and specialty stores may also have a selection for you to choose from. A number of Internet retailers also carry these, while used models can often be found on auction websites and vintage shops.