This Halloween, we’re treating ourselves to something a little different, setting aside all of the sugary candies and making a spooky, healthier alternative- a black sesame rice dish. It’s a nice and creepy accompaniment to just about any sort of potluck or party, great for kids and adults, and it can skew savory or a little sweet as you wish. Plus, it’s vegan, gluten free, and pretty easy to make- as long as you have a good rice cooker, that is.
The new Zojirushi NL-BAC05 Three-Cup Micom Rice Cooker is a compact, chef’s best friend- and actually, a companion to even the most ham-fisted of kitchen incompetents. It can create perfect rice on demand, with little more than an assist and the ingredients from you- and it can do way more than just your basic white rice, including sushi rice, brown rice, long grain white rice, steel cut oatmeal- and fairly uniquely, white, red, black or rainbow quinoa as well! Like most decent, modern rice makers, is uses fuzzy logic for best results, and there’s an automatic keep warm mode which means you cna enjoy your rice later (without worrying about ti drying out, as often happens with cheap models).
We’ve seen plenty of Zojirushi gear in the past, as the Japanese company makes some the best water boilers for tea, and a wide variety of different rice cookers too. This one has a detachable rather than retractable cable, and even the function to bake a cake (which we didn’t test). As always, their gear is easy to clean, and boasts fold-away handles for easy filling and movement. Controls are fairly large and the display panel is easy to read, and one nice change is that the steamer vent is removable (which makes cleaning easier but also allows for higher-temperature cooking without the messy frothiness). It offers triple heating elements, but it’s not super-speedy- on a normal setting, you might expect an hour or so to make a batch, and even the quicker setting still takes two-thirds of the time. But the end product speaks for itself- excellent rice, with no fuss.
There are bigger models, fancier ones, but this one (the NL-BAC05 as tested) feels like a workhorse of sorts. Expect to spend around $130 online and in stores, a nice figure for a very capable machine, especially if you’re a quinoa fan. It’d make a great gift, or simply a perfect way to keep your food budget low this winter while still allowing a huge range of options.