What we bought: A rice cooker whose greatest trick isn’t actually rice

Fuzzy logic rice cooker recipes

Video Fuzzy logic rice cooker recipes

Each month, Engadget presents what our editors are currently involved in, whether it’s video games, podcasts, or gadgets. These are not official reviews; They are simply our first-hand experiences. This week, senior editor Nicole Lee gives her take on the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker.

A long-standing joke among my family and friends over the past two decades is that I am not a true Asian. Why? Because I didn’t have a rice cooker. Since rice is a staple of the Asian diet, rice cookers are common in most Asian households. But for years, I refused to get one. That is, until recently, when I finally relented and got a $195 Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker. And ironically, what I liked the most is not the rice at all.

The reason I stopped was mainly because I didn’t think I needed it. Since I only live with my husband, I told myself I didn’t need a single-purpose appliance. After all, he could already make rice on the stove with just a saucepan. I have become an expert at making small portions of rice over the years. Also, it only takes about 18 minutes. A rice cooker, on the other hand, can usually take 35 minutes or more. So even though I enjoy rice enough to do it regularly, I just couldn’t justify the apparent drawback.

This, however, was challenged during the past winter break. We had our family on Christmas Eve, so I ordered takeaway at a local Chinese restaurant. At one point, we ran out of rice, so I started doing more on the stove. I had to make rice for about 10 people, which I’m not used to doing. Simply put, my calculations were wrong, and the rice I made ended up crispier than I would like. Of course, my family didn’t complain, but I was still a little upset with myself. That’s when I reconsidered buying a dedicated rice cooker.

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“Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker” />

After some research, I opted for the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker. Sure it’s expensive, you can easily get basic models for less than $50, but I wanted one that can cook all kinds of rice, such as short and medium grain white rice, long-grain jasmine rice, sweet (or sticky) rice, brown rice, and more. More importantly, I wanted a kitchen with “fuzzy logic” (yes, that’s an industry term), which essentially means the device has a computer chip. This gives you the intelligence to adjust the temperature and cooking time to accommodate other variables, such as human error (like what I experienced at Christmas), to ensure perfectly cooked rice every time.

I’ve had it for a few weeks, and I love it. It really makes cooking rice much easier. Instead of having to worry about the stove, I can simply rinse the rice, add water, press a button, and walk away. It also has a “Keep Warm” feature that lasts over five hours, giving me plenty of time to prepare dinner while cooking the rice. It also comes with a practical guide that tells you the proper ratio of rice and water for all the different types of rice. On top of that, it has a timer so you can have the rice ready whenever you want.

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Neuro Fuzzy rice” />

But I would say that the killer function of Neuro Fuzzy is not rice at all. I’ve found that he actually makes amazing oats from steel-cut oats. I learned about this from a NYT Cooking recipe for “Steel Cut Oat Rice” (link requires subscription) and it’s really a game-changer for me. Oats cut into steel usually take about 20 minutes to make, and I usually don’t have time for it in the mornings. But with the rice cooker, I simply pour a cup of oatmeal followed by four cups of water and a teaspoon of salt before bed, set the timer to 8 AM, switch the menu to porridge settings, press Cook, and wake up with fresh oatmeal every morning. Also, the resulting oatmeal is the best I’ve ever tried. The texture is so creamy and smooth, making it the perfect vehicle for sweet and savory applications. I like mine with spam, spinach and furikake.

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Also, and it certainly sounds silly to talk about a rice cooker in this way, but the Neuro Fuzzy is simply adorable. Its long oval shape gives it a rounded, egg-like appearance, which I find aesthetically pleasing. He also plays a melody every time he starts or finishes cooking. My favorite design feature, however, is its power cord: it’s retractable! This way, you can store it without a nest of wires to deal with.

Perhaps the only real drawback of the Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker is that it is quite slow. White rice takes about 40 minutes to cook, while brown rice can take 90 minutes or more (stove time, on the other hand, ranges from 18 minutes for white rice to 45 minutes or so for brown rice). Still, that’s a small price to pay for perfectly cooked rice, creamy morning oatmeal, and hopefully no more ruined Christmases.

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