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Eric Kim calls himself a "Food Network baby." He's part of a generation that watched cooking shows after school, and now that generation is all grown up. Eric—who says he wouldn't be where he is today without Rachael—grew up to become a New York Times food writer and the author of the new cookbook, Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home. Here, he shares two methods for cooking "perfect" white rice: in a pot on the stovetop and in a rice cooker.
"My mother, Jean, and I are both equally evangelical about rice—especially steamed white rice. But we differ greatly in how we wash it, only to meet again at the end in the rice cooker, like a fugue that finally homogenizes. Though I love the convenience of a rice cooker (and feel that everyone should own one), sometimes when I'm at an Airbnb or cooking at a friend's house, I like to make rice on the stovetop. It always reminds me of how good—and more complex—it can sometimes taste than the electric stuff. So here, I offer my stovetop method and Jean's rice cooker version, to cover all our bases. Depending on what kind of cook you are—an Eric or a Jean—here are two methods of arriving at the very subjective title of 'Perfect White Rice.' Perfect to whom? To me, perfect means soft, fluffy grains, light as clouds, but not mushy or hard. Just right. To my mother, same (she just doesn't measure anything). But I still believe that if something else is perfect to you, then that's perfect, too. So, adjust the water according to what you like. These are mine and Jean's proportions, and they're a good place to start, as you'll be making lots of rice while cooking through this book. And if you need to make more than the three cups here, then just double or triple the recipe according to your needs. The main rule of thumb when steaming short- or medium-grain white rice is that you're going for a 1:1 ratio of rice to water, which is perfect as long as you're not skipping the soaking step, which helps the grains cook more evenly." —Eric
Serve the rice, whichever way you prepare it, with Eric's Crispy Lemon-Pepper Bulgogi with Quick-Pickled Shallots.
For the stovetop method, place the rice in a sieve and hold it under cold, running water, shaking it often, until the water runs clear.
Place the rinsed rice and the 1 cup water into a small pot and let the rice soak for 10 minutes.
Set the pot over high heat and let the water come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and continue simmering for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let it sit, still covered, for 10 minutes to steam and get fluffy. (Don't peek, as much of the cooking happens in this resting stage.) Fluff with a fork before serving.
For the rice cooker method, place the rice in the bowl insert of a rice cooker and run it under the cold tap. Swish your hand around the rice and water occasionally rubbing the grains between your fingers. Change out the water three to four times, carefully pouring it out the edge of the bowl, making sure not to lose any of the grains by keeping your other hand under the stream of cloudy rice water.
In the now mostly drained (but still pretty wet) rice, add enough water so that when you press your hand flat over the rice it reaches the first crease on your wrist. This is, of course, assuming your rice cooker insert is big enough and your hand is small enough (mine never are, which is why I measure this; also, science). Let the rice soak for 10 minutes to an hour.
Place the rice cooker insert into the rice cooker and turn it on. As soon as it finishes steaming, fluff the rice with a flat plastic rice spoon to prevent clumping later.
Excerpted from Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home by Eric Kim. Copyright © 2022 by Eric Kim. Used with permission by Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved.