One of the staples appliances in any Japanese kitchen is the humble rice cooker. At any traditional Japanese meal rice goes without saying and likely comes without asking; as a result every kitchen needs a way to produce it quickly and conveniently. Your standard configuration rice cooker is basically a bowl, a heat source, and a thermostat – the thermostat regulates the heat and turns the cooker off when the cooking is done. So far, so good. But throughout the ages, inquisitive minds have wondered if this humble appliance can be used for greater things…
The cool intellects at RocketNews 24 (now SoraNews 24) first showed the way by putting a Big Mac Value Meal in a rice cooker, with what they claimed were ‘triumphant’ results. After returning to New Zealand and purchasing a rice cooker, my mind kept being drawn to this. Eventually I made the 20km trip to the nearest McDonald’s to obtain the necessary supplies, and tried it for myself. It was… “not terrible” is probably the best way of putting it. Quite edible, but although the result lasted for a couple of meals I feel ‘Miracle Rice’ is more of a ‘sometimes’ food than a staple.
The biggest drawback was that the burger buns turned into indistinguishable mush, and the burger flavour was lost in the goop. What was needed was a meal less vulnerable to this. Something with delicious oils and spices that would permeate the rice, something with components that would be enhanced by the steaming experience and lend their flavour to the rest of the meal. Something like…
The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when the local KFC brought back their ‘double down’ burger. In case you haven’t been courting arteriosclerosis lately, this is a chicken burger with the buns replaced by pieces of fried chicken. As a meal it’s an invitation to heart failure, but as the core of a rice cooker experience I knew it had to be tried. So, if you feel like trying it for yourself, here’s how it went down.
Start by getting your ingredients. You’ll want a double-down combo with the chips and coke. Order a regular container of gravy on the side – they’ll probably offer some deal whereby you get an extra piece of chicken; you might as well take it. Scoot off home, and put a cup of rice and the appropriate amount of water in your rice cooker.
Pour the chips on top of that, and shift them around until they make a kind of bed on top of the rice. They’ll start absorbing the water, but don’t worry about that for now. Instead, pull apart your double-down and put the pieces (along with that extra bit of chicken, if you got one) on top of the chips. Pour the container of gravy over the whole lot.
If you’ve got to this stage, you might as well pour in the cup of coke too. You’ve got nothing left to lose, really, and the rice will probably need the extra moisture. Put the lid on and set your rice cooker going, then wait while delicious smells fill your kitchen.
When the rice cooker finishes, pop the lid and give your meal a bit of time to cool down. That gravy will be thermonuclear by now, so give it a chance to reach temperatures a human tongue might survive. Eventually you’ll be able to spoon a serving into a bowl, and see for yourself how the Colonel’s famous chicken has improved the process.
Personally, I was surprised by how good it was. The gravy and the oils really do seep into the rice and give it a good flavour, and while I’m not sure the chips really benefited from being immersed in coke it also didn’t do them any great harm. Once again, I wouldn’t eat this all the time… but it’s an interesting change. With a bean salad, or maybe coleslaw alongside, you’re getting close to a decent meal.
Question of the post: What’s a meal you’ve seen that really, truly, shouldn’t have been cooked the way it was? How did it turn out?