Commercial rice cooker buying guide
Catering Appliance Superstore stock a range of convenient, compact rice cookers of various sizes, which are great for restaurants, hotels and takeaways who want to produce consistently great rice each and every time, with very little effort.
The amount of perfectly cooked, fluffy rice you can produce in one go may be your main priority. Catering Appliance Superstore stocks counter-top rice cookers with a capacity of between 6 and 10 litres (volume is expressed in terms of wet, cooked rice, not dry rice), or between 15 and 25 portions (assuming 160ml per portion), so even though the rice cookers themselves are compact they can serve a large number of guests for their size.
Features and controls
The basic features you should expect as a minimum are simple operation (particularly in a commercial setting), a separate nonstick bowl and lid which can be removed for ease of cleaning, and adjustable temperature settings so the device can be used for hot holding of rice as well as cooking it.
The best option if you want a really hands-off approach is a device that automatically switches from cooking to keeping warm once the rice is perfectly cooked - one less thing to worry about in a busy commercial kitchen can make all the difference. The automatic switching itself is simple enough to never fail - water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and the rice cooker won't get hotter providing there is water in the pan. As soon as the rice absorbs all the water, the temperature will start to rise, and this triggers the switch to a warming cycle (or "resting"). The devices on offer at Catering Appliance Superstore all have this feature.
Use of your rice cooker for other foods
Some rice cooker guides advise potential buyers to invest in a more specialist "fuzzy logic" cooker if they want to cook brown rice or other foods, but our advice is that with a little bit of experimentation you will be able to use any rice cooker to cook brown rice just as easily; you will need to use a little more water and it will take a little longer.
Simple, rugged commercial rice cookers like those stocked by Catering Appliance Superstore can also be used for steaming all sorts of items, such as fresh fish, poultry or meat, or fresh market vegetables, as well as other staples like rice or egg noodles or sweetcorn. There are more advanced models on the marketplace such as the "fuzzy logic" cookers we mentioned, and those with alternative cook settings like sauteing or simmering, but effectively these achieve cooking of other foods through automation where experienced commercial chefs will be able to use a simple rice cooker to achieve the same results through experimentation (and a few extra pieces of equipment like steaming trays or baskets), and this is completely fine if the requirement to steam or cook other foods with the machine is just occasional.
If cooking of other foods is something you think you will be undertaking regularly, then we do recommend a fully fledged multifunctional device like the Buffalo J300. This is still a rugged, straightforward to use commercial rice cooker - the "fuzzy logic" cookers we mentioned are typically high end domestic devices with often complex electronic controls, and our experience is that in a commercial environment simpler is often better.
At a pinch, some rice cookers can also be used for general hot holding for soups and stews, though bear in mind that if you're using the device primarily for rice it is a good idea to avoid prolongued hot holding or frequent cooking of other strong flavoured food, and thoroughly wash your nonstick inner bowl and implements, as fresh steamed rice will pick up any remnant flavours.