Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year

The year of the cow

Happy New Year everybody! Let's hope the coming year turns out better than this one.

/Janne and Ritsuko

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Tale of Two Rice Cookers

December already - time flies. Got the long-sleeved shirts and fleece jackets out already. And we will spend New Year in Osaka as usual, and that city is definitely cold.

Anyway, we've splurged on a new rice cooker. Our old one still works fine (we'll bring it to Osaka), but for a while we've had two rice cookers here. They're both the same size, made by reputable Japanese makers and have similar functions. But the older one, from Sharp, cost around 9000 yen; while the new Toshiba is about 25000.  

Many claim that higher-end rice cookers make better tasting rice. Does the rice cooker really make a difference to the rice? Time to find out!

The Sharp on the left, the Toshiba on the right.

The picture itself is with my Olympus Pen, a camera I've never been really happy with to be honest, and here you see one reason why: the white balance just never comes out well when the light is even a little on the off side.

The old Sharp uses a regular electric heater, while the Toshiba has an induction heater (IH). An induction heater can vary the temperature very precisely and almost instantaneously, This should mean much better temperature control for the Toshiba. Our guess was that the Toshiba would be much better at keeping rice warm without burning it or drying it out, but that fresh boiled rice would be much the same.

We set both to cook half a cup (~80g) of rice, each with the recommended amount of water. The old cooker needs quite a bit more water than the new one. While cooking the Toshiba produced very little steam, much less than the Sharp. The Sharp keeps the rice at a boil, producing lots of steam, while the Toshiba induction heater can keep the pot just barely simmering.

Cooking done — they took about the same time — we sat down, each with two small bowls of rice. Was there a difference?

A simple dinner, with two bowls of rice. And, again, the colour balance is off.

In a word, yes. The flavour is the same; no surprise there. But the texture is very different. The grains from the Sharp have a nice firm center but a somewhat mushy surface. The Toshiba rice has a completely uniform texture that is pleasantly firm all the way through.

There's nothing wrong with the rice froim our old cooker; we've been happy with it so far, and we will continue to use the cooker back in Osaka. But the texture from the Toshiba is just obviously better. I didn't really expect that.

You can of course adjust the amount of water for the Sharp. But even if you do, it can't quite produce that even result we get from the Toshiba. Perhaps it's partly because the grains bounce around and rub off each other as they boil, while they lay still in the Hitachi. Now I'm curious if a 50K rice cooker might be even better...