Growing up Taiwanese, there were a lot of dishes I was introduced to in my childhood that I hold sacred today. Beef noodle soup, pork buns, and braised pork with rice are among my favorite comfort foods, and luckily, I was raised by a woman who knows how to make them better than anyone else. Yes, I understand that a lot of people think their moms make the best food, but my mother actually does—that’s just a hard, indisputable fact.
I’ve tried my best to mimic her cooking for the past nine years while living away from her abroad, and although I’ve come close with the beef noodle soup and pork dumplings, I haven’t been able to replicate her rice. My version is often too soft, too mushy, and not chewy enough. So when I asked my mom for her secret to delicate, fluffy, separated-by-the-grain rice, I was shocked to find that it wasn’t a technique, but rather something you can buy: the Zojirushi Induction Heating Rice Cooker.
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My mom herself learned about it after her friend made what she called the “most delicious rice ever” with the Zojirushi cooker. Since getting her own, I’ve had monthly (if not weekly) texts from my mom boasting about how amazing her rice is. “Look at all the preset programs!” she had exclaimed over FaceTime upon unboxing it—and this is coming from a woman who rarely raves about anything. (Seriously, she once called handmade Italian gelato “just adequate.”)
Each setting caters to the type of rice you want to make (whether sushi, brown, jasmine, or porridge), and uses the cooker’s precise induction heating to prepare grains according to their specific temperature needs. The trick, says my mom, is to turn your rice over a couple times with the cooker’s spatula once the program is done, and to use the “Extended Keep Warm” function to keep your rice fluffy and heated, but not burnt.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Zojirushi’s cooker—which, by the way, has dishwasher-safe components to make cleanup an absolute breeze—has turned my mom into a total rice nerd. Even I find myself looking forward to having just plain rice when I fly home for the holidays. Honestly, the only thing more humbling than a simple bowl of rice from what my Taiwanese mother calls the best rice cooker ever is the sale price you can get the Zojirushi cooker for right now. Buy it at Crate and Barrel below.
To buy: $264 (was $385); crateandbarrel.com.
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