The cadets at Young Post put their cookery skills to the test by taking on a rice cooker challenge: preparing four unconventional, non-rice dishes in one of the staple appliances of any Hong Kong kitchen.
We discovered that using the cooker comes with plenty of advantages. Its one-pot, no-mess convenience saves space, and the recipes are all pretty user-friendly.
However, it also comes with some disadvantages. Some of the dishes took a long time to cook, especially the baked goods, and we had no control over the temperature.
We had both hits and misses when it came to our cooking. Let's take a look at which worked out best …
Recipe 1: Banana Bread
Banana bread is a pretty far cry from rice, so when we saw this intriguing recipe we knew we had to give it a go. We couldn't imagine how we would be able to bake something like bread using just a rice cooker.
The recipe was easy enough to follow, and we got it into the machine and set it to cook without much fuss. But then things got tricky. It was hard to tell when the bread was really done. Although the bottom was cooked just fine, the top remained soggy and a bit undercooked, due to the condensation that built up.
Getting it out of the pot was the biggest challenge. The end result wasn't pretty, and looked more like a mashed cake on a plate than the beautiful loaf we had envisioned.
Fortunately, however, the taste was there. It had a good balance of sweetness and banana flavour and was quickly demolished by our hungry Young Post team. It certainly tasted better than it looked!
The verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. It tastes good and the recipe is easy, but cooking and presentation is a pain!
Recipe here: Rice cooker banana bread
Recipe 2: Chocolate Lava Cake
Following the semi-success of our bread, we were hoping that we could learn from our mistakes and manage to make a really stellar chocolate lava cake.
The recipe is really just a cake mix cooked in the rice cooker, and the "lava" is uncooked cake batter in the centre. Just like with the banana bread, it was hard to tell when the cake was done. In the end, we ended up with very little "lava" and a completely unevenly cooked cake. The sides of the rice cooker made the edges almost crispy, but the centre was just a big soggy mess.
And just like with the banana bread, it was a pain to get it out of the pot. We ended up with a big clumpy mess that didn't even taste that good. Young Post editor Sue summed up the whole dish with one choice word: "Yuck."
The verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Recipes don't come much easier than this one, and some people thought the cake tasted OK. But, all in all, it was an uneven mess.
Recipe here: Rice cooker chocolate lava cake
Recipe 3: Frittata
After two sweet dishes, we were ready to try something savoury. This egg, cheese and vegetable omelette seemed just the thing to try, and all the photos online made it look easy and pretty.
Our results were anything but. We followed all the instructions, but it wasn't appealing and stank out the kitchen. With the smell already putting us off, we weren't eager to take a bite and try the taste.
And we were right to be hesitant. It did not taste good.
And to make matters worse, it left bits of crusty egg and cheese in the rice cooker which we had to scrub for ages to clean properly.
The verdict: 1 out of 5 stars. As if bad-tasting food isn't bad enough, cleaning the pot afterwards was the biggest annoyance of the day.
Recipe here: Rice cooker frittata
Recipe 4: Mac & Cheese
We needed something to bring us back from that failed frittata. And there's no comfort food quite like macaroni and cheese!
We'd certainly saved the best for last. The recipe was easy to follow, and cooked quickly and easily. Unlike the others, it was easy to tell when it was done, and the pasta came out perfectly al dente, or firm to the bite.
We used regular chicken broth, but soon found out why the recipe calls for low-sodium broth. Our mac-n-cheese was a bit on the salty side. If you want to try at home, make sure to keep the salt levels down.
The verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars. The best dish of the day in terms of ease, taste and clean-up!
Recipe here: Rice cooker mac & cheese