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Cookworks Rice Cooker

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17 Reviews

The Cookworks Rice Cooker makes cooking rice a much simpler and quicker process, and the 'keep warm' function allows you to turn the cooker on and not have to worry about it until you're ready to eat.

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      14.06.2013 14:39
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      Great kitchen gadget, would recommend!

      I've never been good at cooking rice, and used to spend a fortune on those packets of microwavable rice. I bought this Cookworks Rice Cooker from Argos for £15.99.

      The box contains the base unit, removable non-stick bowl (which holds up to 1.5 litres, or 8 cups of rice), measuring cup and spoon, as well as instruction booklet.

      It's the easiest thing ever to use, although does take some messing around with quantities to get perfect rice. The instructions tell you to measure how many cups of rice you want, then pour in cold water up to the correct level indicated on the side of the bowl. However, I found that putting a little less water than it says produces better rice.

      The great thing about the rice cooker is that you can put your rice and water in (plus anything else you want to add... I usually add a cup or 2 of frozen mixed veg, a crumbled stock cube and some herbs and spices), turn it on, and it will switch itself to the 'warm' function when it is all cooked. You then just need to stir it all round and then leave it until you are ready to use it.

      The 'warm' function is really useful if you want to get the rice prepared in advance, or if you're not sure what time you will need it for. It says that you can keep it warm for up to 12 hours, although I'm not sure I would risk it. Warm (but not boiling hot) rice is a breeding ground for bacteria, so with that in mind, I only ever leave it for an hour at the most.

      All in all, it's a great kitchen accessory, and once you've played around with the amounts of rice and water, you really will produce perfect rice every time.

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      11.05.2012 12:35
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      A reasonable rice steamer but can be better

      My asian heritage means that I have a lot recipes that involve rice. Quite a long time ago, I used to cook rice by microwaving, which can be detrimental to my health if I were to believe some of the research done on the uses of microwaves. My parents who tend to worry to everything, like any other normal parents, give me a verdict not to cook rice using microwave. Personally, I don't worry much about how to cook my rice but to appease my parents I went browsing for rice cookers and purchase this product. I paid £24.99 for this Cookworks Rice Cooker and bought this from Argos.

      Cookworks is not a brand I'm familiar with. However, the appearance and design of this product is reasonable, simple and clean. It comes with a removable rice pot for cleaning and it also comes with a measuring cup. The maximum capacity of this rice cooker is 1.8 litres of water and 10 cups of rice. However, since I live on my own, I usually tend to cook 3 cups of rice and I just fridge the rice in a separate bowl. Three cups of steamed rice lasts me for 3-4 meals, which helps a lot when I have assignments and deadline the next day and I don't have time to cook.


      Cooking rice with this steamer is very easy. I usually measure 3 cups of rice and 3 and 3/4 of water to go with it. From my experience, it gives me very well steamed rice with the right softness and consistency. When I've put the water and rice in the rice pot, I usually stir it with a spatula and then drain the water to get rid of any dirt. Then I fill the pot with the correct volume of water again and then switch the steamer on. Immediately, the cooking light would turn on to let you know that the rice is being cooked. It usually takes about 13-15 minutes. Also, I usually stir the rice half way through; this helps to reduce amount of brown-ed rice stuck to the bottom of the pot and all the rice gets even cooking temperature.


      After the rice has been cooked, the 'warm' light gets turned on to let you know that it'll be ready to eat soon. This is when I usually cook my vegetables, I mostly stir fry them but I steam them as well. After the vegetables are done, the rice will be ready to serve. I don't like my rice to be overcooked, so if it's taking me long to cook my vegetables, I just turn the cooker switch off to prevent the rice from being overcooked.


      As for cleaning and maintenance of this product, it is not easy as I thought it'd be. The rice pot is supposed to be non-stick, however my experience tells me otherwise. I always get rice grains stuck to the bottom of the pot and I have to make sure that I soak the pot in warm water for at least 10 minutes to make cleaning it easier. I've had this product for about a year and a half and it's still working fine, so the durability of this product is pretty good.


      Overall, I think it's a reasonable rice cooker. It's not the best and it's not very easy to clean. However, my rice gets cooked to my liking and it's not a hassle at all to use this product. One thing I noticed is that microwaved rice has more hardness and has more gluey consistency to steamed rice. Therefore, I now prefer steamed rice that is softer and fluffier. A rice cooker is one of essential kitchen appliances to those who love asian recipes.


      Thank you for reading. :) x

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        17.08.2011 20:12
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        It's for everyone :)

        We have had this rice cooker for about 1-2 years now and I love it! We previously had a steamer which could steam vegetables and all sorts but we only really used it to steam rice. This rice cooker is much smaller and fits better into the fairly small kitchen I have.

        The max amount of rice it can cook is about 8-10 cups but 3-4 is more than enough for a few main course servings. The time to cook varies with how much you use but 3-4 cups takes about 15 minutes. All you do is put in the rice, add water and flick the cook switch. What's great about it, is that you don't have to worry about it as it cooks and then immediately switches on to the keep warm function which ensures the rice doesn't dry out if you leave it for a little while and keeps it warm if you're serving in a short while. However you should switch off from the mains fairly soon after cooking or it will dry out if left for too long.

        The rice cooker has a separate crockpot which you can remove to clean it. It's supposed to be non-stick but it is quite hard to clean and I've found if you've left it a while and the rice grains have dried and hardened then it's best to soak it in warm water for a while.

        It is available from Argos for £24.99 which is quite good for a budget rice cooker but obviously more expensive than boiling it in a pan.

        This is great for simple quick rice cooking. It's perfect for the family and great for students too as it doesn't take up much space. I definitely recommend it because it takes away a lot of stress in the kitchen despite the price.

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        01.10.2010 17:46
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        Try this! Steamed rice seriously tastes a lot better than boiled rice

        Since moving out to university, I've been doing a lot of cooking and been looking for new kitchen accessories. I have a microwave rice cooker already and it works completely fine for one person; however usually we take turns making dinner so now I find myself having to cook 6 people's portion everytime. I was randomly browsing on Argos last week and saw a half price offer of this cooker for £9.99 at Argos, the price is affordable so I decided to give it a go.

        The whole package includes the cooker itself, a pot with measuring graduations imprinted on (which can be removed when you're rinsing the rice/serving the rice), a glass lid, a measuring cup and a spactula, all very standard. There are two options that you can choose from: 'cook' and 'warm', basically after the rice is cooked the cooker itself will switch to the warm mode automatically, while of course if you have some leftover from the day before you can use the warm option on its own.

        The instruction manual says for 2 cups of rice, water should be added to level indicator 2 marked on the pot. I found the rice cooked using this guideline a bit too soggy for my taste, so I use my mum's traditional method (She's Chinese) - slowly add tap water in with the rice, put your hand flat on the rice, keep adding water until the water level just covers your whole hand. Put the lid on and start cooking (cooking time is dependant on the amount of rice you are cooking), and as it switches from 'cook' to 'warm' mode, leave the lid on for at least 15 minutes before serving. "In theory this would make the perfect rice", said my mum.

        I suspect the pot doesn't have a non-stick layer so the rice at the bottom sticks to the pot - I find it ok though since I actually quite like the texture of crispy brown rice. Other than that I am quite happy with this rice cooker, and considering it costs less than £10 it's a pretty good purchase I think, it's very easy to use and you can use it as a steamer as well (just put a steaming rack in it). I would recommend this product.

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          16.08.2010 23:18
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          I really can't cook rice. I've no idea why - it seems like boiling up rice and water in a pan should be incredibly simple, but something always goes wrong, leaving my kitchen a starchy white mess, and my pans requiring serious scrubbing . So, I was really pleased when my mum bought me a rice cooker to make things simple .

          My mum paid £24.99 in Argos for this. It's a pretty basic model, but when it comes to gadgetry, basic is what I do best - anything with too many dials or setting simply baffles me. The cooker is mainly white, with two small lights (one red, one orange) and a switch. It has two looped handles on the sides, and a clear glass lid with a chunky handle, and a small hole for venting steam . The inner of the cooker is a silver coloured metallic bowl, which is non-stick. The cooker also comes with a plastic measuring cup for measuring out the rice, and a plastic spatula .

          To use, it's very simple - Simply measure rice with the cup, and then rinse through well in cold water using a seive . If you forget to rinse, the rice goes all gloopy, starchy, and horrible . Then, add the rice to the bowl, and add a cup of water for each cup of rice. Then , just pop the lid down, pop down the switch, and your job is done . The little red light will turn on to let you know the cooker is working .

          It doesn't take long for rice to cook - after ten minutes the switch will pop up, and the orange light will come in, indicating the cooker is now in warming mode . The instruction do recommend letting the rice stay in warming mode for another 10 minutes or so to cook rice thoroughly, but I recommend trying it as soon as the switch pops up the first time to find out the right amount of time to get rice the way you like it - I don't like mine too cooked, so I leave for another 5 minutes once in warming mode, and it is just right for me. It's really all a matter of personal preference, so don't be put off if your rice isn't perfect at first . The one small niggle with this is that it does not have an off switch though, so be sure to turn it off at the plug.

          I find this cooks rice brilliantly, and I love that the handles on the side of the machine mean you can take it right to the table to be served . The nons stick bowl cleans easily, although some rice does tend to get stuck on the bottom but can be easily lifted off using the spatula, and the bowl then washed in soap and water.

          This cooker is brilliant - you can cook up to ten cups of rice at a time in this, plenty even for big meals, and if needs be you can use the inner container and lid to store the leftover in the fridge . It's simple to use, and delivers great results. 5 stars!

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            20.07.2010 21:41
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            Perfectly decent model for anyone who uses a rice cooker

            After my much-loved Kenwood rice cooker packed up, I was cautious about replacing it. Cheap, capable of producing perfect rice, but sadly out of production, could it be replaced? Well, the Cookworks model was the cheapest model I found on the high street and it's proved to be a good buy over the months.

            One of its best features is the ability to cook from just two cups of rice. My last machine cooked a minimum of four, which saw some wastage/overeating. The Cookworks means that you're highly unlikely to waste any food at all when cooking for one or two, but still cooks a good 10 cup maximum for more people.

            It cooks quickly, but you should follow the manufacturer's instruction and leave the rice for at least 15 minutes after it has switched to warm mode. The rice is not fully cooked until it has had this additional period of gentle steaming. This may take some getting used to if, like me, you've had a cooker before that cooks for longer but is then ready instantly. I actually would leave the rice even longer than 15 minutes for small portions. Even so, you won't be waiting long.

            I've cooked with different types of rice - basmati, jasmine, etc - and it has cooked all well. Obviously, in common with all rice cookers, it will not cook risotto, paella, etc, but all varieties of rice that can be boiled are cooked well.

            I can't live without a rice cooker, but I've found this economical model to be perfect for my requirements.

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            20.06.2010 12:17
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            Simplify the rice cooking process for rice enthusiasts!

            INTRODUCTION
            A rice cooker is a self contained kitchen appliance used for cooking rice. It looks a bit like an oversized plastic hob (1.8 litre capacity), where the amount of rice you want to cook is filled in together with the apporiate amount of water, and with the use of electricity your rice is cooked. The Cookworks Rice cooker is made of white plastic, has a transparent glass lid, and it comes with a plastic cup and a spatula. The Cookworks Rice cooker costs £10-20 at Argos, depending if you get it while it on sale or for full price.

            THE UNIT IN USE
            The plastic cup that comes with the rice cooker can conveniently be used for measuring the amount of rice vs water you would want to use. The guide says to use the same amount of water and rice, however I find I use twice the amount of water as rice. The bowl is advertised as being "non stick", however, while the rice doesn't stick as much as when I cook it in a hob, it does stick, and I find I have to scrub the bowl clean after every use. It could be this would work better if I washed the rice more thoroughly to remove starch, as I generally am too impatient to give the rice a proper wash. I've heard it works better if you wash the rice thoroughly using a sieve, but I don't have a suitable sieve. Once the appropriate amount of rice and water has been added to the rice cooker, the lid is put in place, and at the flick of a switch the rice cooker will work towards cooking the rice. There are 2 lights on the rice cooker, one that says "cook" and one that says "warm". The "cook" light will be lit for as long as it takes to cook the rice, which is about 10 minutes, then this light will turn off while the "warm" light will turn on. This means the cooker will now just keep the rice warm for you. I generally either help myself to rice at this point, or I leave it until I am done preparing the rest of my meal.

            PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
            I live by myself, and when I cook it is usually just for myself. I was thrilled at the idea of the rice cooker, however I don't have a sieve, and hence I get rice stuck to the non-stick bowl, which is a nuissance to clean. I tend to open the lid halfway through the process and use the spatula to give the rice a good stir, and that tends to help a bit. The rice cooker always gives me perfect rice. When I cook rice the traditional way with a hob, quite often I find the texture is a bit too hard when I am eating my meal, although that's my fault for not letting it cook long enough. However, I find a standard hob to be easier to clean. Although you can also get rice in bags, which are very easy to cook and leaves very little mess to be cleaned up. While I definitely get the best results using the rice cooker, I find myself mostly preparing rice the old way, primarily because a normal hob is easier to clean. One really great thing about the rice cooker is that once you've initiated the process you can forget about the process until you actually need the rice. I find using the hob I usually need to supervise the process somewhat. I don't use rice terribly often these days. I think if I got a sieve I would use the rice cooker a bit more often

            CONCLUSION
            If you cook a lot of rice and like the idea of initiating the process and then not having to think about it until the rice is done, then this would be worth considering. Personally, I live by myself and don't use rice that often. I tend to have either potatoes or rice with every meal, and quite often I choose potatoes. I think that for £10-20 it's a considerable cost considering how much rice you could get for that amount of money. The rice that comes prepackaged in small bags is my favourite variety, as it's so easy to cook and doesn't leave much of a mess to be cleaned up. I think that if you use rice a lot and am enticed by the idea of the rice cooker, then you should definitely consider getting one. If you don't use rice all that much I'd recommend rather spending the money on rice in small bags.

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              10.06.2010 17:39
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              a great item to buy if you eat a lot of rice

              OK I know that rice cookers aren't necessarily a 'must have' item in everyone's kitchen but to be honest I'd be lost without mine because the whole family loves rice & it saves me so much time & mess.

              I cook a lot of stir-fries, Middle Eastern food, chilli & plenty of curries so I need to cook the perfect accompaniment to go with these - unfortunately though one of my daughters likes plain rice with peas whilst hubby & my older daughter like 'my crispy rice which is why I have 2 rice cookers.

              One is an old rather battered one from Iran whilst the other is a Cookworks product which I've had for a few years now but is still working perfectly despite it being used several times per week.

              I think I paid around £14.99 for it & I have to say that it's paid for itself many times over plus it's saved me from having to wash big pans & colanders plus having to clean the hob each time I made rice.

              The cooker is as shown in the picture & has a 1.5 litre capacity (enough for 4-6 generous helpings) and it's easy to use, wash after use and makes lovely fluffy rice time after time.

              It has a clear glass tempered lid with a generous-sized white knob on the top which is stay-cool. Either side of the unit is a handle which means it's easy to lift from surface to surface (or room to room in our case!) The only thing I don't like about the design is the colour - white doesn't match anything in our kitchen & it seems arather alien. I wish they did a black version...

              The inside contains a non-stick removable container which you basically cook in & serve out of. Also included is an instruction leaflet (clear enough), a plastic paddle & a measuring cup.

              Although their advice about cooking rice is fine, I tend to ignore any rice-cooking instructions as I was taught how to cook it about 30 years ago & it's a foolproof way.

              I only buy the best Basmati rice, rinse it several time in cold running water, drain then add to the rice cooker. 1 cup per person is a very generous amount as Basmati seems to expand more than many rices when cooking. I then add enough cold water to cover the rice completely with exactly 1" over (no, I don't measure it - it just happens to be the length of my first 'bend' on my little finger!) I then add a little salt (more if it's for hubby), switch on & just leave it to cook.

              After about 12 minutes a little orange light illuminates which tells me the rice is 'keeping warm' so will be ready in 10 minutes. This is an ideal opportunity (if cooking it for my younger daughter) to add peas or sweetcorn as the frozen veg cook perfectly in this time.

              When I make crispy rice I follow the above but add a tablespoon of Lurpak with the water & stir half-way through cooking. Another favourite is to peel & thinly slice raw potatoes & layer around the bottom before adding the rice, salt, butter & water. If you pop a plate over the top of this when cooked & turn over onto a large plate you get a sauteed potato topping with fluffy rice underneath which, to visitors, looks quite impressive considering there's little work involved.

              For those of you who like to know the finer details -
              - 230-240v
              -50/60 HZ
              - 500w
              - cook & warm function
              - mine is 1.5l capacity (but I think Cookworks' latest may be 1.8l?)

              summary
              ~
              - easy to use but easy to play with & adapt your own rice delights
              - good price (I've seen much more expensive ones around)
              - so easy to clean (just pop in the inner & lid in the dishwasher or wash by hand using sponge or non-abrasive cloth)
              - good design
              - clear instructions
              - foolproof
              - no mess

              I have to give this product 5 stars (despite the colour) as it's never let me down.

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                10.08.2009 18:13
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                A very good rice cooker

                We do love our curry, chilli con carne and lots of other rice dishes in our house, so I don't quite know how it has taken me 3 years to invest in a rice cooker for my kitchen! I've insisted on using a saucepan and boiling water, which always ends up making a rice mess of my lovely halogen hob, but still I could not be swayed. Upon the delivery of my shiny new cooker, I decided to bite the bullet and invest some money in a rice cooker. I didn't want to spend too much in case I hated it so I decided to buy the cheapest one I could in Argos, which is how I ended up with the Cookworks Rice Cooker, and being on a half price offer, it only cost me £9.99. What did I have to lose?

                *The Cooker*
                Being cheap, it isn't the most aesthetically pleasing electrical appliance you are going to have in your kitchen. The main body of the cooker is white plastic which is slightly garish, but never mind. There is a clear glass lid with a big white knob on the top, 2 plastic handles on the sides of the main unit, 2 lights and a switch. It has the brand name on the front in blue writing, which does look a little cheap, but then again for £9.99, you can't expect all that much. It doesn't look too bad on my worktop, and it does the job that is asked of it, so I can't moan too much really. Some of the more expensive ones are better looking, but I don't want to pay money just for something looking nicer. You get a plastic cup and spatula with the product too.

                *How To Use It*
                The rice cooker is very simple to use. It comes with a small plastic cup and plastic spatula, so you don't need anything else to use the cooker. You measure out the dry rice using the plastic cup, but you must then wash it in cold water. This removes the starch from the rice and stops it getting all sticky in the rice cooker pot. I did this once and it was awful, so a few minutes washing it in a sieve really is worth it, just until the water runs clear. Then you put it into the (removable) non-stick bowl, and add in the water. Now, the guide says if you use, for example, 2 cups of water if you use 2 cups of rice. I disagree. My mother-in-law goes with the "1 cup of rice = 1.5 cups of water". So if you use 2 cups of rice, it's 3 cups of water. I have found this gives perfect rice everytime so I'm quite happy.

                Anyway, once you've put your rice and water in (adding salt to taste if you want), pop the lid on the top and press the switch down. A red light should illuminate above the word "cook", so that's it. After around 12 minutes, the switch will ping up and the orange light will come on, indicating the cooker is now keeping the rice warm. The guide recommends you leave it there for a further 10 minutes to let the rice cook through thoroughly which I always do. After that, turn it off at the wall and remove the lid, but be careful because steam will billow from it at first. Then it's ready to serve with the plastic spatula provided.

                *The positives*
                I must say that aside from the first few times I used it, it has given me perfect rice every time I have cooked it. As long as I stick to the "1=1.5" ratio, it works perfectly and the rice is soft and fluffy, not sticky and hard at all. I was really impresssed by it, and I could kick myself for not having bought one sooner. The non-stick bowl hasn't let me down at all, and none of the rice has ever stuck. You do get a layer of rice matted at the bottom so just be careful when you are scooping it out, but this lifts out problem free to pop in the bin. I just have to put some warm soapy water in to wash it and then its clean, super easy and I'm really pleased with that.

                *The negatives*
                To be honest, I haven't really found a lot of negatives with this product at all. It isn't the best looking product in the world, but for the price you wouldn't expect too much from it. It does take a while to cook the rice compared to the traditional "boiling it in water" method but it's mess-free and stops accidents such as burning with the hot water and ruining your hob as well. It takes a couple of attempts to get used to cooking the rice, my first attempts were a bit too soggy, and the next was too hard, but I soon got used to it and it's now perfect each time.

                If you're looking for a cheap yet usable product, then I can definitely recommend the Cookwares Rice Cooker to you. It delivers perfect rice in 20 minutes and allows you to keep your hob nice and clean. You have to make sure that you wash the rice before use because of the starch and this can make it sticky and gooey, but other than that, it's all plain sailing. The non-stick bowl is brilliant and hasn't marked at all, and washes with just a little effort. It's fairly sizeable so you need to make sure you have space on your worktop for it, but it is definitely a gadget I can recommend if you cook rice a lot! It's great value for money, especially if you can get it for half price at £9.99 like I did.

                Water Capacity: 1.8 litres / 10 cups of rice

                Website: http://www.argos.co.uk

                Item Number: 422/4765

                Thank you for reading!

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                  28.05.2009 08:35
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                  It'll only be collecting dust before you know it!!

                  Ok I read reviews on one of these Rice cookers before buying one thinking it was just the job for cooking perfect rice, which lets face it can be a nightmare. One day it can be perfect and fluffy, the next it can be like a pan of wallpaper paste!

                  So off I went to Argos and bought one of these. Well personally, I think they are rubbish! Save your money! The rice was cooked ok but was dry around the edges whether or not I stirred it when your meant to! That meant that out of a pan of rice I could only use about two thirds!

                  I didn't bother even trying it for pasta! Pasta is so easy to cook anyway.

                  What I'd suggest to you is find out perhaps on the internet how to cook perfect rice or you could try the method I use below.

                  For perfect basmati rice I rinse it in warm water then soak it in warm water for about 20 mins then when it's changed to a lighter colour rince in cold water. Put in pan with salt cover with water until rice is covered with about half inch of water bring to boil cover tightly with foil and a lid turn heat right down to lowest setting cook for 12 mins and then turn off heat and LEAVE do no open for about 15 mins. Then stir with a fork. This method was told to me by my Indian sister-in-law. It always works! Failing that buy boil in the bag Basmati rice.

                  For long grain rice I always use Easy-cook long grain rice. It works perfectly as it's already been soaked for you.

                  Don't waste your money on one of these it'll only be collecting dust in your cupboard or sent to the charity shop!

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                  25.01.2009 22:36
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                  I would say that it is good quality for its price but just keep in mind that it is really meant for

                  I have been using a japanese rice cooker all my life. They are amazing in that they can steam cakes, make porridge, cook rice and even stews. As a poor student, I could only afford the Cookworks Rice Cooker once I moved to the United Kingdom to study. I had to leave my japanese rice cooker and all its function behind.

                  This rice cooker is basic with the standard Keep Warm function. As with any other rice cooker, just put in the rice, water, plug the cooker to the socket and press down the button in front to cook. It does cook rice although I would recommend just using it to cook rice. The metal pot does scratch easily which means that if you use it to cook stew or to cook porridge, you would be washing it harder and therefore, more likely to scratch the pot when washing. When using purely to cook rice, just rinse it in hot water and rub gently with your hands. Otherwise, the rice cooker pot would lose it non-stick function and you would have to watch the rice cooker to ensure that the rice is not sticking.

                  I would say that it is good quality for its price but just keep in mind that it is really meant for cooking rice only.

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                    13.09.2008 00:01
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                    This is worth having one

                    I always thought that rice cookers are gimmick white goods. I think cooking rice in normal pot is already one of the easiest thing.

                    I got cookworks rice cooker as a gift. Lookwise it looks descent, with white outer shell and gray lightweight alluminium rice bowl.

                    The first impression was very good. We put rice and water in recommended quantity and here you go, perfect rice is ready for you.

                    Then I saw the useful bit. You can switch-on the cooker and forget about it.. There is a "keep warm" function to keep rice warm until you are ready to eat.

                    Cleaning bit is bit boring. I am bit worried that I might scratch the gray coating of the rice bowl, though it had not happen yet.

                    After couple of months of use, we found this useful for cooking 3-4 portion of rice. But it is not worth using for cooking single portion. My wife found easier way to cook 1-2 portion of rice in microwave. That way you can get away with extra washing and eat rice straight from the microwave in the same bowl :-)

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                      28.12.2007 14:01
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                      Clearly a useful device - when it works!

                      INTRODUCTION

                      Due to a bit of Christmas net shopping, I had a £10 gift voucher from Argos burning a hole in my pocket and needing to be used by February. As this is pretty soon, I racked my brains for something I needed, and I came up with this, as I always seem to run out of pots big enough for cooking fair amounts of rice, and my mum keeps on raving about how good rice cookers are. This particular model seems to be exclusive to Argos. It was half price at £9.99; they even gave me the penny back! I thought this worth reviewing as it's a gadget I've always fancied yet never been fully convinced of its merits. Since it's effectively free I can't go wrong, so is it an experiment that has been worth carrying out? We are about to see.

                      PACKAGING

                      The Cooker comes neatly packed in a light blue cardboard box with several pictures of the cooker on it; the glass cooker lid is on top, encased in a plastic bag, and protected by some polystyrene. The cooker itself, along with the removable pot, spatula and measuring cup, are further protected by more polystyrene and plastic bags. There are only 2 pieces of polystyrene frame, and they both are marked with a recycling logo, as are the plastic bags, so I don't consider that to be too wasteful packaging; they seem to have packed securely yet sparsely, so bravo Cookworks.

                      APPEARANCE.

                      The main body of the cooker is white and round, held up by 3 legs on it's base, with 2 metal handles, one on each side . The only moving part on the outside is a switch below 2 LEDs marked "warm" and "cook". Inside is a heating plate, made of what looks like stainless steel. This comprises of 2 metal discs; the inner one is about an inch in diameter and spring loaded, the outer on surrounding it has a hole for the inner disc and has concentric grooves all around it. It is surrounded by a metal bowl-shaped support which is white.

                      The removable pot is lightweight, silver on the outside and grey on the inside, with an overhanging rim that fits nicely in the main cooker. There are measuring graduations etched on the inside of the potl, so it's clear how much volume you are using, plus it's won't fade with use, which is a real plus.

                      The spatula is white plastic and about 7 inches long, with a big spoon on the end. The measuring cup is very small, just under 3 inches in height and depth, transparent plastic and cup shaped, also marked with measuring graduations.

                      The lid is glass with a small hole in in (presumably to let out steam during cooking) and has a metal rim and white plastic knob on top.

                      COOKING THE RICE

                      First of all, the pot, spatula, cup and lid must be washed in warm soapy water. It is also an idea to wash the rice to be cooked before using it, to get rid of the starch. Run it through cold water until the water runs clear. I find this all a bit fiddly but definitely enhances the flavour and texture considerably.

                      The rice should then be added to the pot, along with the water. A guide is given, where for example, if 2 cups of rice are added, water should be added to level indicator 2 in the pot. Then, with the pot and lid on top in place in the cooker, the cooker is turned on with the power switch on the front, and the "cook" light illuminates. When the rice is cooked, the "warm" light illuminates. After cooking, the cooker automatically switches to "warm" and apparently this can be left for a maximum of 12 hours!

                      Note the instructions aren't explicit about whether hot or cold water should be used. I used cold, as I have been told by other rice cooker users this is the form.

                      COOKS TIPS

                      A couple of old tricks from my mum:

                      -Add a dash of olive oil to the water to keep the rice from sticking.

                      -Add a strand or 2 of saffron to colour and subtly flavour the rice (saffron is good for you, too)

                      -Add a chicken stock cube to add flavour. My mum was doing this years before Knorr caught on and produced rice stock cubes, but personally I prefer my mum's way.

                      BURN BABY BURN

                      I used Tilda Basmati Rice for the first run, washed as recommended, and using a tad less (cold) water than is suggested, the results were a bit disappointing; in fact I had to turn the cooker off before the "warm" light indicated as the rice was burning! I must admit to being shocked, as all the reviews of this cooker said how easy it was to use, but so far I found the instructions to be vague. I also wondered if you had to stir the rice during cooking, but the instructions suggested not until the "warm" light is lit. Perhaps the answer is to wait until the steam stops streaming out of the lid hole, but isn't this defeating the point of the exercise?

                      Incidentally, crispy, and not blackened, carbonised rice is actually very tasty and was in fact a delicacy in our household in my youth, when a pressure cooker was used for cooking the rice which invariably burnt some of it to a crisp. In this case, the rice stuck together, was crispy on the bowl edges and burnt on the bottom. It actually tasted OK but not at all what I'd expected (i.e. light, fluffy, perfect).

                      This didn't seem right to me - even the hotplate was slightly blackened, and the pot also scorched on the inside where the rice burnt, which points to an electrical fault. Other rice cooker users agreed that this didn't sound right. Time to take the cooker back methinks!

                      GIVE UP

                      I ummed and arred and finally decided I didn't want to risk a repeat performance; I actually never have any problem cooking rice correctly, and so this was more a labour saving device than necessity. So I banked the £9.99 gift voucher refund, following absolutely no quibble from Argos regarding returning the item. And this time it's valid for 3 years - a result in a way.


                      CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE

                      You should clean the spatula, pot, lid and cup after each use, and unplug the cooker, leaving everything to cool first. Don't put the cooker base unit itself in water though! And don't use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads on the components, either. Clean the base unit with a damp cloth or sponge. It has to be said, despite being blackened, the pot cleaned quite well, apart from the burn marks that is, and could have been used again without any problems (presumably with a working base unit).

                      CONCLUSION

                      One of the reasons I have published this review is to offer a counter experience to that I've read on previous reviews, which all talk about ease of use and great rice. I'm pretty sure I followed the instructions, so I can only conclude I bought a faulty unit. You can't blame me though for being reticent at the thought of a re-run, with recurring nightmares of a flaming kitchen had I left it any longer last time.

                      Clearly, these work quite well when they aren't faulty, so if this happens to you take it back immediately and don't assume you are doing anything wrong if you followed the instructions - whether you choose to try again is entirely your prerogative.

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                        16.09.2006 12:16
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                        EXCELLENT

                        Excellent little piece of equipment.I bought mine from Argos for £9.99 my first time I thought it would not have have enough water in as I put loads of veggies in so I put a bit extra in it came out a bit soggy.Second time perfect rice really yummy I put some garlic and groundnout oil in the water some salt & pepper and some Jerk seasoning tasted just like the chinky rice which I adore.

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                          17.10.2004 18:31
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                          Pasta and rice are probably the basis of most of the meals in our house. I have never found pasta a problem to cook, but when it comes to rice, I alternate between cooking the rice for what seems like an eternity and still nearly cracking the enamel on my teeth when I eat it, to boiling it too quickly and being left with a sticky clump of grains. Never ever do I get the fluffy rice that I see on so many television adverts, and even boil in the bag isn’t foolproof I assure you!!

                          One day, whilst waiting in Argos to collect something, I spotted a display of various kitchen items, one of which was a rice cooker priced at £9.99. I did not give it much thought, and probably more down to boredom than anything else, I bought it there and then, thinking if it was rubbish, at least I had spent less than a tenner. The model I bought was the RCG-1500 which is in the current Argos catalogue for £17.99 (catalogue number 422/0790).

                          The cooker needs to be plugged into the mains, however the cord is detachable to make the cooker easy to move about, and also much easier to store. The cooker itself is made of a ceramic style material, and then the inner section is a removable metal dish, and this is all covered with a glass lid so you can keep an eye on what is being cooked at anytime. It is very simple to use. First off you choose how much rice you want to make, and remember that whatever quantity you start with will be doubled by the end of the cooking process. Each cup of rice must be matched with 1.25 cups of warm water. You place it all in the metal pan, and then slightly twist it to ensure that the heating element at the bottom of the cooker is in contact with the pan.

                          Switch the cooker on at the mains, and the indicator light will show yellow. Flick the cook switch and this will immediately change to red to indicate that the cooker is working. It is here that the rice cooker really becomes a winner for me. There are no timers to listen out for, or guide times that you have to follow, the cooker simply cooks the rice and switches off automatically when it is ready. This of course minimizes the chance of over/undercooking.

                          The indicator light then returns to yellow, and at this point you should leave the lid on for at least another 10 minutes, or until you are ready to eat, and this ensures that the rice is completely cooked. Once the rice is cooked, as I have said you don’t even have to eat it there and then as the cooker will keep it warm for at least 1-2 hours after cooking at a steady 60 – 80 degreees Celsius, although the longer you leave it, the less moist the rice becomes, and it does have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan a little.

                          It is easy to clean, and I find that simply putting the pan into some warm soapy water takes off any residue, and leaves the pan ready to go into action again. I also cook pasta in here if I am making a lot and don’t have the time to keep checking on it, and the results have been just as impressive. I would highly recommend this to you all, but be careful your other half will start to take liberties and leave you to do all of the cooking because you have a new toy!!!

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