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Cheap eats @ home w/ a rice cooker

By Chris Mordd Richards - 15 July 2016 17

home cooking one

Recently I have been trying to cook more, and while I take a break on the Pre-made meals delivered at home series, I thought I would share with you some meals I have been trying recently designed for eating on a budget and being simple to make.

These recipes have been put together with the help of a friend, who first introduced me to cooking with a rice cooker and who eats lots of meals made this way. I have made a few of them so far, and the rest are compiled from similar meals my friend has made himself.

The exact ingredient amounts and cooking time may need some fine tuning, this is an approximate guide and will get you most of the way but a bit of common sense on cooking times and your own personal taste on ingredient quantities will help guide you making these.

All you need to cook with is a cheap Rice Cooker, available at any major department or homewares store. Above and below is a picture of two different size models I saw recently in a Big W as an example and price guide.

home cooking two

All these meals are designed to be able to be cooked for roughly $4 to $7 worth of ingredients depending on the exact recipe and if you can get meat on special or not. Here are our recipe ideas:

Note: For all recipes, Simmer means the “warm” setting (as opposed to the “cook” setting).

The Aussie Breakfast – Serves 1-2

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), mushrooms (4-6 medium), bacon (2 rashers), eggs (2-3), butter (1 tbspn).

Instructions: 1. Chop up the bacon and mushrooms finely (1/4-1/3cm size pieces approximately).
2. Add the butter, bacon and mushrooms into the rice cooker and Simmer for about 5 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the cup of rice and the 2 cups of water, Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on until the rice is almost set.
4. Crack 2-3 eggs on top, Cook for a further 5 minutes or as preferred depending on how firm you like your eggs, with the lid on.

Steamed fish w/ a twist – Serves 1-2

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), mushrooms (4-6 medium), onion (1 whole), fish (1 large fillet or 2 small), hoison sauce (1 tspn), soy sauce (2 tspns), butter (1 tbspn).

Instructions: 1. Chop up the bacon, mushrooms and onion (1/4-1/3cm size pieces approximately).
2. Add the butter, bacon, mushrooms and onion into the rice cooker. Simmer for about 5 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the cup of rice and the 2 cups of water. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on until the rice is almost set.
4. Add the fish fillets on top in the rice cooker. Mix the hoison & soy sauce in a cup.
5. Drizzle the sauce on top of fillets. Cook for 5-10 minutes with the lid on and serve.

home cooking three

Mediterranean Brunch – Serves 1-2

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), spring onion (2 shallots), cannellini beans (1 can), eggs (2-3).

Instructions: 1. Chop up the onion finely. Rinse the beans in water and strain them.
2. Put the beans into the rice cooker, add the cup of rice and the 2 cups of water.
3. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on until the rice is almost set.
4. Add the spring onion on top, then crack 2-3 eggs on top of that.
5. Cook for a further 5 minutes or as preferred depending on how firm you like your eggs, with the lid on.

home cooking four

Lemon garlic chicken – Serves 2-3

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), lemon rind (1 tspn), onion (1 whole), mushrooms (4-6 medium), garlic (2-3 cloves), chicken (2 medium thighs or equiv.), butter (1 tbspn).

Instructions: 1. Cut up the meat into small cubes. Chop up the onion, mushrooms (1/4-1/3cm size pieces approximately) and garlic (finely). Grate the lemon rind.
2. Add the butter and the meat and Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring it at the 5 minute point.
3. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid off.
4. Add the lemon rind and the cup of rice and the 2 cups of water. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on and serve.

home cooking five

Ginger and beef – Serves 2-3

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), ginger (1 inch of root or 2 tspn paste), onion (1 whole), mushrooms (4-6 medium), garlic (2-3 cloves), beef steak (1 medium-large blade steak or equiv.), soy sauce (2 tspns), butter (1 tspn).

Instructions: 1. Bash the meat with your fist or a cooking hammer or rolling pin, and cut it up finely in cubes.
2. Chop up the onion, mushrooms (1/4-1/3cm size pieces approximately) and garlic (finely). Grate the ginger.
2. Add the butter, meat and soy sauce. Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring it at the 5 minute point.
3. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid off.
4. Add the cup of rice and the 2 cups of water. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on and serve.

home cooking 6

Coconut pork – Serves 2-3

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), desiccated coconut (3/4 cup), leek (2-3 stalks), asparagus (2-3 stalks), garlic (2-3 cloves), pork (1 medium-large steak or equiv.), butter (1 tspn).

Instructions: 1. Cut up the meat into small cubes. Chop up the leek, asparagus (1/4-1/3cm size pieces approximately) and garlic (finely).
2. Add the butter and the meat and Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring it at the 5 minute point.
3. Add the leek, asparagus and garlic. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid off.
4. Add the cup of rice and the 2 cups water and the 3/4 cup desiccated coconut.
5. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on and serve.

Variations: Replace the garlic with some chilli for a spicy kick.

home cooking 7

Sweet rice pudding – Serves 1-2

Ingredients: Rice (1 cup), milk (1 cup), sugar (1 tbspn), salt (a pinch), butter (1/2 tbspn), vanilla (1/4 tspn), cinnamon (1/4 tspn) –

Instructions: Add the cup of rice and the 2 cups of water. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on until the rice is half cooked.
2. Add the cup of milk, the tablespoon of sugar, the pinch of salt and stir.
3. Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on until thick and creamy.
4. Put back on Simmer, stir in the 1/2 tablespoon of butter and the 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.
5. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Simmer for 2 minutes with the lid off and serve.

I hope you like these ideas, let me know your own variations in the comments below or if I got anything wrong. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Pre-made home delivered meals series in about two weeks time.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Cheap eats @ home w/ a rice cooker
DavidL 3:43 pm 18 Jul 16

@ Mordd

Yes it is a problem.
Set a steamer timer, timing ends, cooking stops.
Set the microwave, cooking finishes and stops cooking.
Set a mobile phone or other timer, you have to go to the kitchen and stop the cooking. You might think this is a little thing but it is an unnecessary extra step. Tried it whilst cooking my son’s school vacation lunches (in the oven) and even with both a timer and the phone I can (and have) got caught out whilst doing something which can’t be interrupted.
Let me ask you something, why be pedantic? You make good points but for some people not all that interested in cooking (whilst having a few good recipes) something which improves on your suggestions shouldn’t be patronised but welcomed. I can agree that using a rice cooker “is just simplicity itself” but improving things in life is sometimes just finding a single new step which improves slightly on the original solution. One highly valid point you make is the low cost of rice cookers. But since I have all three options it makes sense to me to make life easier by using the most convenient.

Mordd 3:12 pm 18 Jul 16

@DavidL

For me 4-5 steps max is a simple recipe. Most ‘simple’ recipes I read are usually about 10 steps long.

As to the timer thing, I don’t see how that is an issue.
1. Use the microwave timer.
2. Set your mobile phone timer/alarm.
3. Buy a cheap $2 ($1 even) timer from a $1 shop.

I don’t see having to time it as being difficult or any reason for it not to be classified as simple because of the need to time it. Pretty much any food involving cooking needs timing, timing is not hard, set a timer and forget, takes 2 seconds, how is that a problem?

DavidL 10:41 am 18 Jul 16

I often read of ‘simple’ meals and then read them to see there are multiple steps and the need to keep an eye on things or use a timer. Most of these recipes require a timer (not supplied with the rice cooker), and regular overview of the process.

My culinary habits are more basic. I use a rice cooker for rice – with one hint, soak the rice for half an hour, drain then use standard measures – far less sticks to the cooking bowl. I add condiments after – butter, pine nuts, etc. I haven’t tried adding vegetables with the rice but that might work quite well.

Other things I use – an electric steamer, which has a timer, is far more convenient. It also has multiple layers which I can add as I go. So if I have potatoes and want to cook for 30 minutes and steamed vegetables for 15, I start the potatoes for 15 minutes, timer goes off, I add the vegetables in another layer, set the time and I am done. One cooking bowl in my steamer has no holes so the steam doesn’t go directly to the food. Whilst waiting for a timer I can read a book, start the laundry, whatever. The cooking bowl can be used for rice but I haven’t tried that yet.

Again, the convenience of a microwave is also the timer. I cook frozen portions of salmon for a fixed time – remember to prick the plastic envelope or it will explode. Having fun currently with poached eggs – half a cup of water, add the egg, prick the yoke, cover, cook for a minute for one egg, check if more needed but otherwise done. Forgetting to prick the egg gives you the fun of cleaning up.

But the basic message is, the simpler the better. For me too many recipes require either lots of preparation or too much overview.

madelini 9:43 am 18 Jul 16

That’s interesting, but I’m pretty sure my rice cooker was broken by my sister’s former partner doing something similar in it and forgetting to turn it off.

The whole point of a rice cooker is the weight of the rice & water and the pressure plate. Putting other stuff in there is asking for trouble.

To be fair, if you forget to turn anything off, it can break/burn/explode. If you were making a cake and forgot to turn the oven off, it would burn and probably cause damage (at least to the pan) but that’s no reason to avoid using the oven. It’s more about having an awareness of how the machine works and playing with it from there.

switch 9:16 am 16 Jul 16

Garfield said :

Bit off topic, but on the question of using kitchen devices for un-thought of things, my mum was pleasantly surprised recently to discover you can use a bread maker to make jam as well. So anyone who has one and didn’t know that, now you do. That’s my food trivia fact for the day lol!

http://inhabitat.com/6-scrumptious-meals-you-can-cook-in-a-dishwasher-yes-you-read-that-right/

Mordd 11:00 pm 15 Jul 16

Bit off topic, but on the question of using kitchen devices for un-thought of things, my mum was pleasantly surprised recently to discover you can use a bread maker to make jam as well. So anyone who has one and didn’t know that, now you do. That’s my food trivia fact for the day lol!

Mordd 10:58 pm 15 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

Well you certainly have some interesting recipes. I was under the impression the cookers were for rice, and rice only.
I must look a bit further into it.

Rice cookers just keep cooking for as long as the temperature of the contents is no higher than the boiling temperature of water, indicating that water is still present. Once the thermal sensor detects the temperature rising – indicating the water has all been absorbed – it switches it over to the warm setting. I routinely use a rice cooker to cook barley, which takes longer than rice but works very well.

I hadn’t thought of cooking whole meals in there either – thanks Mordd.

Welcome, it was my best mate who put me onto this, I had never heard of this at all till a couple of months ago. He bought me my rice cooker and showed me all the different meal options with it, he seriously cooks 1-2 meals a day in his one, he is on a very constrained food budget atm and far away from shops in the bush. He helped me put together the latter recipes in the piece, and I modified a dessert recipe I found for the last one to my own tastes which is also nice to do sweet things with it.

Personally I only use it 3-4 times a week at the moment, but is great to just set and forget essentially and just listen out for a timer going off. It’s paid for itself already in my opinion. I’ll be sure to pass on yours and the other comments to him when I visit him next week.

gooterz 10:32 pm 15 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

Well you certainly have some interesting recipes. I was under the impression the cookers were for rice, and rice only.
I must look a bit further into it.

Isn’t that the same as sandwich presses are for pressing sandwiches?
They’re the best way to cook satay sticks, sausages, hash browns. etc

HenryBG 8:13 pm 15 Jul 16

That’s interesting, but I’m pretty sure my rice cooker was broken by my sister’s former partner doing something similar in it and forgetting to turn it off.

The whole point of a rice cooker is the weight of the rice & water and the pressure plate. Putting other stuff in there is asking for trouble.

My uncle wanted to be a chef before he realised he’d have better luck with the chicks by becoming a lawyer. He showed me how to cook rice when we were camping once, and I was struck with how little effort he put into it.
Here is how you prepare some rice at home:
-boil kettle
-put 1 handful per person of rice into a covered container (I use a french clay pot), pour in boiling water until the rice is covered plus up to the first knuckle of your finger. A bit more if your pot doesn’t have a decent heavy lid.
-Put pot in microwave and microwave for 1 min + 30secs per handful rice.
-Come back 5 minutes later and repeat the microwave, minus 1 minute.
-Come back 5 minutes later and repeat the last.
Let it sit for at least 10 minutes while you do the rest.

Cooking the rice is thus about 30 seconds of effort.

Nightshade 7:59 pm 15 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

Well you certainly have some interesting recipes. I was under the impression the cookers were for rice, and rice only.
I must look a bit further into it.

Rice cookers just keep cooking for as long as the temperature of the contents is no higher than the boiling temperature of water, indicating that water is still present. Once the thermal sensor detects the temperature rising – indicating the water has all been absorbed – it switches it over to the warm setting. I routinely use a rice cooker to cook barley, which takes longer than rice but works very well.

I hadn’t thought of cooking whole meals in there either – thanks Mordd.

madelini 3:35 pm 15 Jul 16

Rollersk8r said :

The way I cook rice and noodles – no need to buy a rice cooker. Almost fill a saucepan with cold water, put in noodles or rice. Bring to the boil and turn off. Let the noodles or rice sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook the rest of your meal and by that time your noodles or rice are ready. Too easy.

I think some of the appeal is that you don’t have to cook the rest of your meal separately – it’s a one-pot dish. Not for everyone, but if you already have a rice cooker or wanted one anyway, it’s great to know that they can be used on more than curry or Chinese night.

MERC600 2:56 pm 15 Jul 16

Well you certainly have some interesting recipes. I was under the impression the cookers were for rice, and rice only.
I must look a bit further into it.

Mordd 12:50 pm 15 Jul 16

I’m not suggesting there aren’t other ways to do this, but a rice cooker is just simplicity itself for someone like me who hates cooking. Takes a lot less monitoring than doing it other ways, and $14 for the equipment is 3 cups of coffee for me, hardly an expensive outlay.

pink little birdie 10:44 am 15 Jul 16

OP just by a thermo mix or similar machine or – pressure cooker or slow cooker.

When I first moved in with my now husband and brother in law they were shocked that I could make rice on the stove – not from a microwavable packet or with a rice cooker. It’s really not that hard.

Zan 8:14 am 15 Jul 16

The way I cook rice and noodles – no need to buy a rice cooker. Almost fill a saucepan with cold water, put in noodles or rice. Bring to the boil and turn off. Let the noodles or rice sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook the rest of your meal and by that time your noodles or rice are ready. Too easy.

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