Whether you are just a beginner or if you have a lot of experience under your belt, you know that as simple as rice can be to cook, it can also be very tricky to make it right if your attention is divided on more things (which is pretty much guaranteed), because of that many turn to automatic cookers and similar machines, but which one do you choose in such a big market? With many options and varying prices made for all kinds of different cooks and chefs in all walks of life, our search led to the Zojirushi, a Japanese brand known for quality products in the rice industry, and if a country can be trusted with rice, you can pretty much bet that that country is Japan.
Among their many cookers, the one that really stood out was the NVC10 (which is not exactly a good marketing name), which is more expensive than most cookers but it is well worth the price, this product holds its weight in the market even though it has been around for 5 years already, it brings what you would expect and then adds so much more, but what might make this the ideal option for many is the fact that it is programmed to regulate both temperature and cooking time on its own, not only saving you from frustration but also keeping the rice at the same tasty quality year-round (for years!).
This wonderful machine isn’t shy from showing its qualities on day one, if you read the description on the official store page you will see that it has various settings and that it is capable of cooking many different kinds of rice, but most importantly it shows pretty clearly that the cooker will adapt to how much rice and water you put in it, removing any concern that might trouble the anxious newbie regarding to amounts, in fact, it will also help those that have a short attention span, letting them easily add in when you want the rice done without the slightest chance for error, the perfect recipe for relaxing before a meal.
The NVC series can be bought in either 1 liter or 1.8 liter sizes, with a negligible difference in price, none of them being too large (in fact they are smaller than we first imagined them to be), but both options possess the same features and come with the same tools in the package (a thick plastic rice paddle and a measuring cup specifically made for rice), both use pressure and inductive heating to cook the rice evenly and make it soft and fluffy, and both come with quick and easy recipes to use with the machine (which is an endearing aspect of the company for first-time users).
Cooking with a Zojirushi
Along with the basic White rice cooking option (which takes 50 to 60 minutes to cook and takes a minimum of 1 cup of rice to cook properly), it stands out among other machines by giving you the perfect settings to make Brown rice by extending the time the grains absorb water and cooking in a higher temperature for a longer period to avoid it from becoming too hard and giving it a similar texture to White rice but keeping the tasty flavor that only Brown rice is known for. But if you want even more out of your grains, the company embraced a new technique for cooking Brown rice called “GABA”, which is a much slower cooking method that liberates Gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is believed to be much healthier, helping with stress and blood pressure, be aware however that this process takes over 2 hours to finish and is best set ahead to be done either when you get home or right before a meal.
However, if what you seek is more than just regular rice, it also makes Sushi rice, using less water to give the grains a soft texture without leaving them too loose to be handled, or, if you’re feeling creative, Mixed rice, slowing the heating to let the seasoning be absorbed more thoroughly while also being careful to not let additional ingredients from boiling over and not being boiled. But if you’re looking for a much softer option, you can even make an oatmeal with the “Porridge” setting, making a soft and tasty meal without fail (but don’t use steel cut oatmeal, as it is too small and might clog the machine, a shame really), and to top it off, it also can make scorched rice, giving you a crunchy meal without sacrificing taste.
With all of the stated options, you might think you are set for life, but the Japanese creators packed the NVC with a little extra for the costumers, and that extra is another rice setting: Umami, a setting defined by the company as “the fifth flavor”, it soaks the grains and gently lets them release the sugar inside each grain, letting that sugar reattach itself to the rice exterior, making it sweeter and tastier, does it really work as they describe it? We don’t know, but it sure is delicious (and if you doubt us, just read the reviews on amazon!).
Technical Aspects - The Nitty Gritty
To achieve such a vast array of flavors and recipes the Zojirushi must be making something different, right? And yes, it is, this cooker is one of the few available in the US to use Inductive Heating, transferring heat from all around the pan to cook the rice uniformly and selectively distributing the temperature to accommodate as many possibilities as it can. Using IH also means that the machine is able to keep the rice warm for up to 24 hours (depending on the setting) and re-heat it after a long time sitting inside the pan (it is not meant to be used to re-heat cold rice however, for that you should use your microwave).
The fact that the NVC also uses pressure to aid in the cooking also means that it creates a lot of steam, that helps to keep the rice fresh and moist, but might be dangerous, and for that reason the design of the machine implements a pressure-control valve and a backup safety valve, releasing pressure slowly even if you just open the lid normally, giving the steam time to blow off before you get to the rice, for that same reason closing the lid must be done calmly to avoid damage and heat; It is also of note that the machine is programmed to keep the rice at the same temperature independent of how many times you open the lid, and if you forget it open for more than five minutes it will warn you with beeps or a melody (which can be chosen between one another by the owner of the device, who can also mute it completely if so desired).
With a weight of 13 pounds (1 liter version, the 1.8 liter is only 2 pounds heavier) and a strong handle, the NVC is also portable enough to take in a trip, although it is best to leave it plugged-in to maintain the internal clock battery working for as long as possible (which by default is between 4 and 6 years) and it is best to not take it to Europe due to the different energy output of plugs in the old continent. It is also recommended to not use it in sheer darkness as the electronic display has no backlight, although it is true that we don’t recommend cooking anything in such situations to begin with.
With a platinum infused inner pan that is categorized as nonstick and both interior and exterior being made out of stainless steel, not only is cleaning a easy task, it also assures you that the machine will never be an eyesore when looking at the kitchen, but that isn’t the only good piece of news though; The inner lid also means that this isn’t the kind of appliance that will have a piece of grime you simply can’t get rid off (a surprisingly common problem with many different kinds of cooking products).
The Cons: What You Need To Know
As nothing is perfect, the machine does have some less desirable features, like the fact that it is meant for rice and rice only, diverging from other rice cookers that can also be used to boil vegetables and roast meat (it doesn’t mean you can’t try, but the results might disappoint you, plus, it is enforced by the manual to not try it anyway); Another problem is that the platinum coating of the pan might peel off, it won’t make the rice necessarily less appetizing, but you can’t “repair” the pan and it is recommended that instead you buy a replacement from Zojirushi, even if your warranty is still valid, which normally wouldn’t be such a hassle but in this case it costs upwards of $50 to replace it. Finally, although the customer service is great and works 24/7, if you need to repair your appliance, then you will have to pay for delivery, and if they find nothing they need to repair, then they will send the cooker back and you will have to pay for the delivery again.
Should You Buy It?
All in all, is the Zojirushi Pressure Rice Cooker NP-NVC10 (or 18) worth the high price? Yes, but the strongest reason isn’t any of the features, but for the push it gives for the company to bring even better models from Japan and stop keeping the best just for the Japanese home market, but if you ignore that and think just on the cooker itself, you should still buy it, many who bought it back when it first entered the American market in 2012 still use it to this day, even though it isn’t the newest entry from Zojirushi, it still is one of the best.
Zojirushi Corporation is a Japanese multinational company founded in 1918, originally called Ichikawa Brothers Trading Company, its name was changed twice before reaching its current state in 1961; The company is based in Osaka and currently employs 1198 men and women in japan alone, with many more working on subsidiaries located in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and in the United States. Nowadays Zojirushi is known for manufacturing everything from bread machines to rice cookers, with high quality being the usual standard for the huge variety of products sold by them and authorized vendors.