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ASSUMING:

  • I have a rice cooker here that's absolutely, certainly, never used for anything other than plain rice. The rice contains no flavorings, bugs, or anything else non-kosher.
  • Rice is raw inedible and needs cooking.
  • The way a rice cooker cooks rice was included on the Talmudic ban
  • Rice is its own food and not secondary or a condiment
  • Rice is a significant enough food that a head-of-state would eat it (Chazon Ish), or that it would be served at a state dinner (most American poskim).

THEN:

This 100% kosher-ingredient rice would be non-kosher if made entirely by non-Jews, because of Bishul Akum.

The solution would be to get the Jew involved in the cooking. Which of these actions (or combination of actions) would be considered enough involvement?

  1. Adding rice or water to the pot initially
  2. Mixing the rice/water before starting the cooking
  3. Adding salt (okay assume plain salt is kosher) to the pot intially
  4. Placing the pot into the rice cooker
  5. Plugging in the rice cooker
  6. Turning it on (I assume we'd all agree that step works?)
  7. Fluffing the rice mid-cooking or post-cooking
  8. Other?

Thoughts?

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Most rice sold in the US is already Par-boiled read: pre-cooked when you get it so this question is quite relevant –  SimchasTorah Aug 20 '10 at 20:45
    
Re: parboiled -- see star-k article; parboiling isn't a problem. I'm talking about cooking my own rice at home. –  Shalom Aug 23 '10 at 13:08
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The answer from the Star-K

Which of these actions (or combination of actions) would be considered enough involvement? The article says

lighting the boiler is a solution for Ashkenazim, who follow the Ramah’s position that lighting the fire fulfills the bishul Yisroel criteria.7 Sephardim, who follow the opinion of Maron Beit Yosef,8 require that a Yehudi actually place the rice in the cooker before lighting the fire at the beginning of the process.

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If I'm reading that correctly: for Sephardim, put it in and turn it on; for Ashkenazim, turn it on. Hm; my rice cooker, when you plug it in it immediately starts "warming" the rice; then have to push the button to "cook" it. Would that be analogous to the non-Jew turning up the flame that a Jew lit, for Ashkenazim? –  Shalom Aug 23 '10 at 13:13
    
As long as when you push the button to start cooking, it is the same heating elements doing the heating(which should be the case). I would think it is like how many Kashrut agencies rely on heat lamps in ovens or pilot lights for Bishul Yisrael. By Ashkenazim(at least how it is practically carried out in the Kashrut industry) it doesn't need to be much. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Aug 24 '10 at 4:46
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Number 6(turning it on) works for Ashkenazim according to the Star-K information. Beyond that depending on your posek and who you hold by, 1, 2, 4 or 7 would also work as they are essential to the preparation.

For Sephardim things get to be a lot more tricky. A Jew has to do the majority of the cooking... So you would probably need 6, 1, 2 and 4 for it to work by Sephardim.

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The problem with 7 is with most fancy rice cookers, you're supposed to leave it in there untouched until it's done cooking. So #7 was, culinary-wise, eitza sh'ayna hogenes, sorry. –  Shalom Aug 23 '10 at 13:10
    
Unless it's post-cooking, but that probably wouldn't be enough halachically. –  Shalom Aug 23 '10 at 13:11
    
In that case you are right, if the fluffing only happens post cooking it does you no good whatsoever. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Aug 24 '10 at 4:44
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A simple reading of the shulchan aruch has only 7 working and 6 according to the Rema. 7 may only work if it has not yet reached maachal ben drusai.

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