Rice is a necessity for almost every Korean meal: it balances the intense, assertive flavors of the main dishes and "banchan" (side dishes). Chef Hooni Kim shows us the proper way to rinse, soak, and cook rice to get the best possible texture—sticky yet fluffy—every time.
Wash rice: Place rice in a large bowl. Fill bowl with cold water to cover rice. Massage the rice a bit, then carefully pour out most of the water, reserving the rice with your hand. Repeat this process 7-10 times. At first the water will be cloudy with starch, but gradually the water will become less cloudy. You’ll know the rice is sufficiently rinsed when the water is translucent (not completely clear). Strain the rice in a colander and let it air-dry, 15 minutes. The rice will absorb some of the water and the grains will be about 20% larger than their original size; the rice will also look whiter and more opaque. After the resting period, the rice should be almost dry.
Cook rice (with electric rice cooker): Put rice and water in the rice cooker. Close the lid and let rest, 5 minutes. Then switch the rice cooker to "Cook." (If your rice cooker has a "Quick Cook" setting, use it; the regular setting incorporates a soaking period that is not necessary here.) The cooking should take 15-20 minutes. After the “On” button clicks off, it's done cooking, but leave the rice to steam in the cooker for another 15 minutes before lifting the lid.
Cook rice (with pot): If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the rice and water in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and place a heavy weight (such as a stone pestle) on top of the lid. Bring the water to a boil over high heat; then immediately reduce the heat to low. Let the rice cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot rest and continue steaming for 10 minutes before lifting the lid.
Serve rice: Once the rice is ready, use a flat wooden spatula or plastic rice scoop to gently fold and fluff the rice up from the bottom of the pot, avoiding any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. (This should not be a problem if you're using a rice cooker, since most are nonstick.) Gently continue fluffing so that the rice from the bottom of the cooker or pot is well mixed with the upper layers. You are releasing some of the excess moisture and cooling off the rice as you do this. The rice should be slightly sticky and each grain should be intact, cooked all the way through with a consistent texture. Serve right away, or put the lid back on to keep warm for up to one day.
How to store rice: While the rice is still warm, place 1½ cup portions into separate zip-top bags and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to use, microwave for 1 minute to have steaming hot rice again.