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Review: Zojirushi Umami Rice Cooker, Part 2

Last month, I did Part 1 of my review series on Zojirushi’s new Umami Rice Cooker/Warmer. In Part 2, I experiment with other kinds of rice than white and try out storing onigiri in the cooker overnight to save time in the morning. My apologies for the long delay in this, but lately I find myself doing like twice as many things as I used to in the same amount of time.

My first order of business was to go buy some brown rice, wild rice, and more Genjimai rice.

Actually, buying more Genjimai rice has nothing to do with this review. I just say that to make myself feel better about buying another bag while forgetting I already had one. Oops.

Anyway, I cooked a batch of brown rice using the GABA setting. The rice was nice and fluffy and even though you’re technically supposed to use day-old rice for fried rice, I went ahead and cooked up a batch using the brown rice. I was hoping the spam and teriyaki sauce would fool Baby Girl, but about three spoonfuls in, she came to me and demanded, “IS THIS BROWN RICE?!”

Apparently rice snobbiness is genetic.

Brown Fried Rice

Buddy ate it with no complaints, but I think this is because they serve brown rice at his preschool. The rice was fluffy and tender and not at all like the horrible brown rice you get served at say, Zippy’s. I used the timer so that the rice would be ready at 6 PM and forgot that I did so.

That afternoon Baby Girl was yelling at me from inside the house that my phone was ringing, but she couldn’t find it in time to answer. When I checked my phone, no one had called. Eventually, I looked at the clock and saw that it was 6:12 and I figured out that it was the rice cooker singing and she had mistaken this for my phone ringing. This thing just keeps on entertaining me!

Next up, I decided to try wild rice, despite my negative attitude about it in the last review. I figured I had to buy some anyway to try out Katniss’ favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums on Wild Rice (for Fictional Food), so I might as well get it now and review a batch.

Wild Rice

The only wild rice I found was a white and wild rice mix, so I bought that. After asking Zojirushi what I should do, I used the brown rice setting. I was in a hurry and I didn’t put enough water and it was very dry, but it did make for a very fast dinner when I added it to a quick beef stew I made with canned roast beef. It was different for sure, but not as bad as I expected it to be.

Next up, I wanted to try hapa rice, which is a 50:50 blend of white and brown rice. Hapa is the Hawaiian slang term for someone who is half Hawaiian and half white. It’s such a popular term for rice now that you can actually buy a package of “hapa rice” here in Hawaii. I think Hinode does it, but I’m not sure. In any case, it’s ridiculous. Just buy two types of rice and mix it yourself.

Hapa Rice

Since the bad part about brown rice is that it takes so freaking long to cook, hapa rice is a good compromise. I was able to cook this batch of hapa rice with the Umami setting, which requires about half the cooking time of brown and 1/3rd of the cooking time of GABA brown. Set it to cook by timer and your rice soaks for a long time anyway. Hapa rice is a great way to eat a little healthier while avoiding the full blast grainy texture that people usually hate about brown rice. It’s also a great way to use brown rice in onigiri, because the white rice tends to be stickier. I still need to test out onigiri with GABA brown rice!

In closing, I decided to try an idea that someone mentioned in the comments section of the last review: storing onigiri overnight in the cooker to save time in the morning! The idea was genius, so I had give it a shot.

Storing Onigiri

Here they are in the cooker, resting on top of a moist paper towel to keep it from sticking to the rest of the rice. I used these three onigiri in my tonkatsu bento. Although it was nice to have warm onigiri waiting in the morning, the moisture from the towel made the onigiri lose it’s compactness and they were very hard to handle when arranging them in the bento box.

If you look carefully, you can see how loose the outer kernels of rice are. I have yet to try this again without a towel, but without a towel, you end up with onigiri stuck to a bunch of regular rice. The only other option that I can see is to use all of the rice and have no paper towel. I will need to give that a try next time I make onigiri. It was a great idea in theory, but sadly I don’t see it working out in the end.

On Friday, I hope to wrap up this review series by cooking oatmeal for breakfast and trying sweet rice for the first time. I’ll also have a big surprise for Part 3, so be sure to come back and see what it is!

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  • I can understand why it takes you awhile to review it….you review everything and really do a nice job on giving us details. Funny how your daughter wasn’t fooled with the brown rice. My daughter would only eat sticky rice, then she ad to have furikake on it, now she’s good with mixed rice and grains, brown rice, cilantro rice, red rice, brown rice, bamboo rice etc….but she’s 16 so I guess it takes time.

    Looking forward to the oatmeal review!

  • Now I want some spam fried rice! It looks so good…of course it is lunch time here in Florida! I’m making it tonight for dinner! (I always have Spam in my hurricane supply box during season)

  • Fun and super informative review! And I’m with Lyndsey–spam fried rice sounds perfect right now! Have a wonderful holiday weekend 😀

  • Justine L

    Instead of paper towel, you could try using parchment paper, maybe? If you fold a little sheet in half so the waxy side touches both the rice and the onigiri, you might be able to avoid your rice sticking to one another and the onigiri losing it’s shape. I do that with pieces of tonkatsu and stuff, if I’m trying to keep some food warm because I’m not eating it right away. 🙂 Great review, though! Totally wish I could buy it. Better luck on your hunt for warm onigiri in the morning!

  • Cris

    I tried it! Try putting the onigiri on a little plate on top of the other rice. The rice will stick to the bottom of the plate, but the onigiri on top will stay intact. Thanks for another nice review.

  • Harrison

    I used to use the paper towel method.
    Partchment paper works GREAT (punch a few holes in the paper) but parchment paper is expensive.
    Now I use a silicone “steamer insert”. It has perforations. Moisture can pass through so what’s on top doesn’t get too dry (although I’ve had trouble with it being a bit too moist. I’m thinking of dedicating one just for the rice cooker and “adding more holes”)
    The other rice doesn’t stick to it like it does to paper towels. I don’t “waste” paper towels so it is a little better for the envoronment. Also remember that paper towels use bleaches to make them white and dies to make them “pretty” for consumers.
    Silicone steamer inserts are easy to clean. It is nonreactive, doesn’t really impart flavor to the food and doesn’t pick up flavors.

  • Harrison

    @ Lyndsey & bento bird.
    I used to DETEST spam until I lived in Hawaii. Now I simply MUST eat it at least once every couple of weeks. Lunch time here in Phoenix. Pikko Lyndsey and bentobird have made be decide what I need for lunch, Spam fried rice! Happy mothers day to all!

  • Jen

    I love your review. We have rice snobs in this house as well lol