Since the 1980s, electric rice cookers were manufactured in China and Korea, who focused on simple feature models because of the market trend which regarded the price competition to be more important than rich features.
Some visitors to Japan desired to buy Japanese domestic models as souvenirs, due to their ability to produce better tasting cooked rice and the multiple features. Since the Japanese domestic models use 100 volts only, they cannot be used in most other countries without adapters and power converters. In Akihabara Electric Town, various models that are modified to be able to operate under 110 V/220 V-240 V are sold in boxes that are labeled with English. A few rice cooker makers produce export models for use abroad.
Panasonic electric rice cookers are typically used for the preparation of plain or lightly seasoned rice. Some also have settings for congee, a type of rice porridge called okayu in Japanese, juk in Korea, and zhou in Chinese. More elaborate recipes are possible using a rice cooker, and there are cookbooks devoted entirely to dishes prepared using a rice cooker. Dishes that can be made in a rice cooker include beef stew. By simply adding ingredients and setting it to "warm", a rice cooker would cook that at about 65 °C (150 °F).The water is then drained immediately while the lighter starch is still in the water, and the heavier rice grains settle at the bottom of the container. The washing process may need to be repeated up to three times until the water draining out is clear of starch. Excessive washing, however, is believed[by whom?] to be detrimental, since it will remove too many water-soluble nutrients, e.g., vitamins. In a few hours, the stew is fully cooked and ready to eat.
Some rice cookers are designed to accommodate a basket to steam vegetables, dumplings, buns, and so on in the steam coming off the rice.