What Is an Induction Rice Cooker?

Dan Harkins

For precision and uniformity, many chefs turn to an induction rice cooker not just to prepare consistently tender rice but also other foods that could benefit from a thorough and calculated steaming. The induction process is what makes these types of appliances so useful — creating a magnetic field inside the pot from electricity passing through a field of metallic coils. This heat passes directly through the contents of the pot for a steady, enveloping and easy-to-adjust cooking process.

Rice made in a rice cooker.
Rice made in a rice cooker.

An induction rice cooker is useful not just for serving a restaurant full of diners but also for home chefs looking for a perfect bowl of rice as quickly as possible. Some are restaurant size, like their cousin the induction oven, making 10 cups (more than 2,000 g) or more of rice at a time. Others can make about half that at once and are more suited for small kitchen use. Some of the more expensive models have rice pots with magnetic properties. This creates added heat and heat control by producing friction — a magnetic resistance that can be fine-tuned for a near perfectly timed and heated batch of rice.

Uncooked rice.
Uncooked rice.

Depending on the manufacturer, an induction rice cooker can be intuitive or complicated to operate. Each comes with instructions that vary widely, since volumes and wattage controls also differ. This process generally involves adding the same even ratio of rice and water, or soup stock, to the removable pot compartment of the cooker. The cover is then closed, and the cooker is programmed for the amount of rice that has been added. When a batch is ready, the machine will alert the cook.

By contrast, the common stove-top method of cooking rice in a tight-lidded pot heats the water-soaked rice only from a burner underneath. While effective, this way of steaming takes longer and is not nearly as adept at creating consistently tender rice. Not everyone has the financial wherewithal to purchase an induction rice cooker, though. These cooks typically bring equal measurements of rice and water to a boil, often with a few dashes of salt and a little oil or butter to prevent sticking. After boiling, the rice is then covered and simmered over low heat.

Oil or butter will not be needed, since the heat is evenly distributed with an induction rice cooker. Some chefs commonly add other ingredients to flavor their rice, however. Salt is a common denominator, but so are herbs like basil, cilantro or oregano. A range of ingredients can cooked with rice, like chopped and seared meats, vegetables like onion, garlic and peppers, and more exotic additions like jasmine flowers, paprika or coriander.

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