The very first dish my mother taught me how to cook was rice. Usually she prepared the rice when she was home, and my only responsibility(in terms of rice) was to press the button on the rice cooker at the appropriate time. But nights when she was delayed at church functions, I was in charge from steps a to z, and with one glance, she’d know if I had skipped the first half of the alphabet in the rice cooking process. For many years, I thought Mom was some kind of rice savant, but it turned out, that all Koreans were this passionate and fastidious about cooking rice. And it really did make a difference in the result: fluffy, sticky but not clumped, shiny, mildly chewy rice.
There are a myriad of rice brands available at the Asian markets. Everyone has their favorite medium grain rice and sometimes depending on the season, brand preference can change. Today, most of the rice available in the U.S. is grown in the U.S, and due to its fortified nature, directions on the package will tell you to avoid washing before use. I ignore the directions and stick to my mother’s directions, because texture is everything in rice, but if you want to use rice as a vitamin supplement and don’t mind mushiness, then follow the directions on the bag.
These steps are actually very simple, and not as lengthy as I’m probably making them out to be.
Just make sure you end up with clear water after a few rinses.
Whether you decide to cook it in a rice cooker or in a saucepan, soaking the rice for 30 minutes before cooking helps the rice cook evenly. A rice cooker produces perfectly steamed rice consistently and as far as I’m concerned, is up there with the washing machine. Sure, you can cook the rice in a pot over a stove, but then again, you can also wash your family’s clothes in a bathtub. If you plan on cooking Korean rice often, invest in a rice cooker. I have two: a mini cooker(maximum 2 cups) and a standard sized one. I’m always using the mini one.
Do not open the rice cooker, even after the little buzzer goes off, until steam has completely escaped from the lid of the rice cooker. Before serving, fluff up the rice gently with a wet rice paddle.
- 2 cups of medium or short grain rice (found in Asian markets)
- rice cooker or a heavy bottomed medium sized saucepan
- Place 2 cups of rice in a bowl. Pour water in the bowl and agitate the rice with your fingers. Drain off the milky water by pouring it out of the bowl. Repeat 3-4 more times or until water becomes clear. Drain one last time. (It's fine to have a little water left in with the rice.)
- Place rice in a rice cooker or saucepan.
- Pour almost 2 1/2 cups (a little less than 2 1/2 but a little more than 2 1/3) into the rice cooker or pot.
- Soak the rice for thirty minutes.
- Turn on the rice cooker. Do not open even after buzzer goes off. Wait until all the steam has escaped from the lid of the rice cooker before cooking. Fluff with a wet rice paddle before serving.
- If cooking on stovetop, boil rice for 8 minutes on high, then lower the heat to medium low, and simmer for 8 more minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook with the lid on. Check to see if all the water has evaporated. When it has, turn off the heat and keep the the lid on for 15 minutes. Fluff with a wet wooden spoon and fluff rice before serving.