March 23, 2010

Bunka Nabe, Electric Rice Cooker, and IH Rice Cooker/文化鍋、電気炊飯器、IH炊飯器

In the 30s of Showa (1955-1964), many Japanese used a bunka nabe (lit. "culture pot") to cook rice, including my mother.
Images of bunka nabe

A bunka nabe is a deep pot made of aluminum alloy with two handles and a lid that is especially for cooking rice. Its salient feature is that its rim projects upward, higher than its lid so that the water from the pot does not boil over the rim during cooking.

My mother continued to use her bunka nabe until the early 1980s, until one day when I bought the first electric rice cooker for my family, and everyone was surprised to see how well the cooker cooked rice. I don't remember if it was a simple electric rice cooker or a more sophisticated, "maikon" (microcomputer-controlled) rice cooker.

Now I use an IH (induction heating) rice cooker, which I bought about six years ago when my previous maikon rice cooker broke. I highly recommend an IH rice cooker because it can cook rice the best.






Amato said...

My experience: it is almost impossible to cook good rice with a pot, I have tried and failed many times, and then I bought a small rice cooker. What a difference! Because my rice cooker is very simple and small (Germans don’t have usually rice cookers, potato nation ;-)) I’m thinking about getting a real “cool Japanese rice cooker”. These are rather expensive...This would be luxury for me. ;-) Which rice cooker would you advise? I can get some original Japanese rice cookers, but not many.

Amato said...

Oh, I forgot: have read, some people use a donabe pot for cooking rice?

Hiroyuki said...

Amato: As I said in the post, an IH cooker. If you list some of the models available in your country, I think I can give you some recommendations.

Yes, some people do, and there are people who claim that they can cook rice better with a donabe than an automatic rice cooker.

Amatō said...

Hiroyuki, I did a small search on rice cookers, there arent many japanese products,f.e. this one has no name,here:
Other ricecooker in this shop is a ZOJIRUSHI NS-XAH05E.
Here, other shop they have few:
The problem is, there are no brand names I also dont need a huge one, only for 2-3 persons.
Thank you, maybe you can help me out...
Other possibility would be to go to Düsseldorf, this is the German City wiht biggest japanese community.But the trains are very expensive in Germany.

Hiroyuki said...

Amato: Neither the multi-purpose rice cooker of Cook Japan nor the ZOJIRUSHI NS-XAH05E is of the IH type. And, I don't think the one made in Korea is of the IH type, either.

I have a suggestion: Why not start a thread in an appropriate from on eGullet, like the Elsewhere in Europe, titled, "Where do I find a Japanese rice cooker in Germany?" or something like that?

Amatō said...

This is a good idea,thank you!
I´m often a little shy with starting new posts...
(made some bad experiences in a so called "japanese forum" in Germany, there are real nasty people.Of course, so far I can see, not many "real japanese" people post there)

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Anonymous said...

Dear Hiroyuki-san,
I am a bit curious about electric rice-cookers based on induction technology. I’ve tried to find some in germany (by internet of cause), but there are no such kind of cookers available.
What are the benefits of the induction method? It is obvious that induction will heat the whole inner pot quite nicely just in a few seconds. So cooking by induction may not waste as much electric energy as usual cookers. But is there really so much difference between the common e-cookers and the induction-cookers?
I am used to cook on induction. As far as it concerns rice I always use the steaming method ( small pot, small amount of water, little heat - quite easy as in brown rice.)
Keep on cooking - sincerly Kiki

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Thanks for your comment.
In short, an IH rice cooker can cook rice the very best because of its uniform, high-power heating.

As you may know, rice is Japan's staple, and most Japanese are willing to pay extra to have fluffy, delicious rice.

Another benefit of an IH cooker is that it eliminates the need to soak the rice for at least 30 minutes before cooking, which is an absolute requirement for a maikon (microcomputer-controlled) cooker.

Note that an IH cooker no longer represents the state of the art in rice cooking, because IH has evolved into a more advanced technology, pressurized IH, whereby the rice in the pot is pressurized while heated.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hiroyuki-san,
pressure cooking and induction - sounds great. Thanks for your quick answer. I will try to buy one, maybe next spring in Tokyo.

bloger said...

Soweit ich mich erinnere gibt's die Tarts und Housewarmers im 3. Stock oben bei den Haushaltswaren. Eher auf der Stachus-Seite. Da findest du eine größere Kerzenabteilung, die kannst du gar nicht verfehlen. Eine Auswahl an Yankee Candle Sachen findest du aber auch bei "American Heritage" am Rotkreuzplatz.


Hiroyuki said...

bloger: Danke, but I'm sorry I don't understand German...