While some people think of a rice cooker as a single-purpose kitchen gadget -- as any dorm-dweller can tell you -- they're capable of a lot more. For example, many models include a steamer insert to use for cooking vegetables, fish or prepared foods, such as Asian dumplings. When you're juggling kids and what feels like a million or so other things, using your rice cooker rather than the stovetop can be a major convenience.
1 Place the cooking insert in your rice cooker, and fill it to its "Max fill" line with water. Press down the cooker's start button, to begin heating the water.
2 Spray the cooker's steamer insert with pan spray to keep the dumplings from sticking.
3 Fill the basket loosely with dumplings in a single layer, leaving space between them for steam to circulate.
4 Lift the lid from the cooker, once it begins to steam. Wait for the steam to dissipate -- which is hot, and can give you a serious burn -- and then put the steamer insert into the rice cooker and replace the lid.
5 Steam the frozen dumplings as directed on the package, usually for eight to 10 minutes. Lift the lid, and wait again while the steam dissipates. Lift out the steamer, and set it on a folded paper towel.
6 Rest the dumplings for a few minutes before serving. If you need to cook more, spray the steamer insert and repeat the process. Keep the first batch warm in a lightly oiled or sprayed casserole dish, in a warm oven.
- If you don't want to take any chances with hot steam, place the basket full of dumplings in the steamer when it's cold. Start to time them when your cooker comes to a boil.
- If you have a silicon oven mitt, you can use that to lift out the steamer. It will protect your hand against steam, as well as heat.
- If your rice cooker doesn't include a steamer insert, shop around for a silicon steamer instead. They're flexible, so you can usually find one to fit your cooker. To keep it off the bottom and away from the water, balance the steamer on small ramekins, espresso mugs, or any other small and heatproof item that fits.
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