Ramen rice fills our stomach with guilty pleasure, and our heart with hope for the future.
The term “rice cooker” is really kind of misleading. When you break it down, the appliance consists of a pot, a heat source, and a timer, so theoretically you can use it to cook anything that’ll fit in the pot.
So, for instance, what would happen if you dumped a bowl of ramen into your rice cooker, and at the same time it was cooking some rice too? We realize that’s not a question most people would ask, but as we’re sure you’ve noticed by now, we’re not most people, so that’s where we find ourselves today.
Step one is the non-crazy part: just pour a single scoop of rice (180 milliliters/6.1 ounces) of white rice into the rice cooker pot. Next, you’ll need cooked ramen noodles, plus whatever toppings and broth you want. For this part, we picked up some pork ramen from Tokyo’s Ramen Butayama restaurant.
Place the noodles on top of the rice and add water. Since we were using a brothless ramen, we poured in 400 milliliters (13.5 ounces) of water, enough to cook two scoops or rice.
Now it’s time to add any ramen seasonings you have. In our case, this turned out to be mashed garlic paste and the thick sauce base called tare.
Give everything a few gentle stirs, then add any vegetable toppings…
…and finally, artfully arrange your chashu pork pieces.
Then all that’s left to do is close the lid and start the cooking cycle. In total, it took about an hour for our ramen rice to cook. During the process, we noticed there wasn’t as much steam coming out of the cooker as when we just cook rice, but in terms of smell, this was a good thing, since we figured a billowing plume of garlic vapor probably would have stunk up the kitchen pretty badly.
When the hour was up, we popped the lid, and…
…well, at first glance it looked pretty much the same as it had before we started the cooking. Grabbing our rice scoop and stirring things up, though…
…revealed ramen rice had been achieved!
It may not look fancy, but hey, we’re here for the taste. And on that front, ramen rice delivers! Butayama’s ramen is part of the strong-flavored “Jiro-inspired” ramen category, and every bite made us smile from the delicious garlic and juicy pork sensations.
However, there were a few unexpected elements. For starters, the rice wasn’t quite as fluffy as it usually us (i.e. when we cook it without a bowl of ramen in the same pot). We think this might be because the extra ingredients kept the rice from getting as much heat as it ordinarily does.
This is probably partially our fault. When we started our rice cooker, we had it set to its standard white rice setting. However, there’s also a setting for making takikomigohan, rice with seasonings and other vegetables, and that’s really the setting we should have used, since it cooks the rice a little more thoroughly.
In addition, while the garlic and pork flavors were strong, we could have done with a bigger contribution from the broth. Again, tough, we kind of have to blame ourselves for this, since we used a non-broth style of ramen with only the thick tare. Replacing some of the water we used for cooking with ramen broth instead probably would have given us a bolder taste.
That said, this was still a tasty and very filling creation, and we’re looking forward to whipping up another, even better batch.
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