How to cook rice is the million-dollar question for many of us. We’ve all been there: one day you make a pitch perfect bowl of brown rice and then the next day, when you try a new brand when entertaining friends at home, the rice comes out sticky or undercooked or dry. How embarrassing! According to food editors Hunter Lewis and Janet McCracken, from Bon Appètit, “The directions given on packaging are usually wrong, even from reputable producers. If you’re using a new bag from a company that you’re unfamiliar with, use this technique: Make a small pot using 1/2 cup rice and 1 cup of water. You’re looking for fluffy rice where each grain is tender and holds its individual character. If you don’t add enough water, the rice will be underdone and likely burn on the bottom before it’s done gently steaming. If you add too much water, the rice will be sodden, mushy, and overcooked. So cook it, taste it, and adjust your rice-to-water ratio accordingly for larger pots of rice the next time.” If you want to learn how to cook rice perfectly, follow this technique for long-grain white rice below that’s actually really simple.
For starters, remember that for every cup of white rice, use 1 and half cups of water. (When cooking brown rice, use 1/4-1/2 cup more water per cup of rice than you would for white rice.) So if you’re making just one cup of white rice, pour one and a half cups of water into a medium saucepan with a lid that fits tightly. Bring it to a boil and add a half a teaspoon of salt into the water. Then add the rice to the boiling water and stir it once with a wooden to spoon to separate the rice. If you stir more than once you risk causing to the rice to become too sticky or like risotto rice.
Next, cover the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let it simmer for 16-18 minutes. The rice should be studded with craters, or steam holes, when it is ready. And here’s where many rice makers tend to mess it up: You should always remove the rice from the heat and allow it to sit and steam in the pot for at least another 5 minutes. Then, just before serving, fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. The key to cooking the perfect rice is following the correct ratio of water to rice, not uncovering the saucepan while it’s cooking, and only stirring it once when you first pour the rice into the water.