Cooking rice according to the directions on packaging is one of the most frustrating things in the kitchen. They always give you directions to measure out precise amounts of water and rice and cook it for a very specific amount of time.

When I used to try to follow these instructions, I always wound up in two boats. Boat A would result in a big pot of mush. Boat B would lead to burned rice stuck to a pan. It seemed almost impossible to get right.

That method is just plain stupid.

The truth is you can cook rice just like you cook pasta. You don’t need specific measurements or exact timing. And you definitely don’t need a fancy piece of equipment.

The method below works with almost any kind of rice: short grain to long grain, white rice or brown rice. The only kind of rice it won’t work with is any sort of pre-cooked, dried rice. So it won’t work with instant rice.

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Prep Time: Depends on the rice used; read package information

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rice (you can cook less, but it makes sense to cook a large batch)
  • Water
  • Pinch of salt(optional)

Method

  1. Add rice to a large pot. Fill pot with cold water and swirl rice in the water to rinse it well. Carefully pour out most of the cold water (it’s okay if you lose some rice) and re-rinse the rice. Keep rinsing until the water is mostly clear. This will probably take three or four rinses, depending on the rice you are using.
  2. Once your rice is clean, fill the pot with hot water. There should be at least a few inches of water above the rice line. I always use at least a 4-quart pot and add water until it covers the rice by 4 to 5 inches. Add a Pinch of salt (if you’re using it). Stir the rice to separate the grains in the water, cover, and place over high heat.
  3. Once the water starts to simmer, remove lid or it will probably boil over. Turn down heat to medium-high.
  4. As the rice boils, spoon out a few grains every 5 minutes or so and taste it. Keep cooking until the rice is almost cooked through. It should have a very tiny bite to it. In pasta terms it would be al dente. If ever the water looks murky or starts to get thick, add more water to keep the grains moving.
  5. As soon as the rice is almost cooked to the right texture (see below for some guidelines), drain the rice using a wire mesh colander that the rice can’t fit through. If you are using quicker-cooking rice like short-grained white rice, be sure to drain off as much water as possible or you’ll run the risk of overcooking the rice later.
  6. Once you’ve drained off most of the water, pour the rice back into the hot pan immediately. Return the pan to the stove, cover, and cook on low heat for 30 seconds just to reheat the pan.
  7. Turn off heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 8 minutes.
  8. Uncover rice and fluff well with a fork to separate grains. Serve immediately or cool and store for later.
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