Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Science! The Little Cup That Could

In this special volume-centric post of 'Science!' we take a look at a small wonder - the Little Plastic Cup that comes with your rice cooker.

(L) Egg cup for comparison (R) The Little Plastic Rice Cup

Some of you have kept it - wise move.  Many folks toss it out along with the packaging, assuming it's a nondescript item which serves no purpose.  You know how much rice you want, right?
Plus, you've other measuring cups and can't possibly cram more stuff in the drawer of assorted gadgets, whotsits and geegaws that every kitchen has.

Yeah, sure thing buddy.

Well, this cup isn't like the others.  It's special.  Using the metric system, the standard capacity of The Little Plastic Cup is 180 ml.
180 ml corresponds to a traditional Japanese unit of measurement called a "".  As rice cookers were originally a Japanese invention, it makes sense that a gō or 180 ml became the standard measure to be used in rice cookers.  Although Japan now uses 200 ml as it's standard cup measure, the gō is still used today for rice and sake.

In my own experience, I've found that dry medium-grained rice (which roughly doubles in volume when cooked) as measured out in The Little Plastic Cup provides just-right portions of rice to accompany the family-style Japanese, Chinese and Korean meals I love to cook.
There's a good amount of rice in the bowl, yet enough room is left to add vegetables, fish or meat.  

180 ml of rice in the rice bowl (L) and The Little Plastic Rice Cup (R).

While it is no sin to have leftovers - rice is very forgiving in this regard - I found that rice measured out in regular metric 250ml cups yielded amounts of rice which didn't work comfortably in a rice bowl.
Eating rice out of pasta bowls (excluding risotto of course) feels odd - not to mention that it also makes you feel like a glutton.  The worst is when you've still got lots of rice, but less of the other dishes to balance it out.

250 ml of rice in the rice bowl (L) and a Standard Metric Cup (R).
Also, when your rice cooker manual refers to a cup, it means the cup that came with the cooker, especially if you've purchased it from a manufacturer whose head offices are located in a country your Nan may have dubbed "the Orient".  Don't be the fool who prides themselves on cooking 'authentically' who purchases a Zojirushi, Tiger or even a Panasonic - then idiotically throws the cup away.

So cherish the glory which is The Little Plastic Cup.  It's your rice cooker's best friend.
It is the Milo to it's Otis, the GIR to it's Zim - and you wouldn't want to mess with that, right?  Riiiiight.

Oh, and if your gadget drawer is full - just store the cup inside the cooker when not in use.

Small is good - respect the cup.

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