How to cook rice without a rice cooker

My rice cooker is broken.  I don’t want to talk about the details of how it came to be so broken because it was just stupid.  But here is the sad state of my rice cooker:

broken top

broken top


the hinge is messed up

the hinge is messed up


so it doesn't close anymore

so it doesn't close anymore


unless I put a big book on top

unless I put a big book on top

I don’t feel like buying another one, although I make rice almost every other day and owning one makes it so convenient.  I don’t really like this particular brand of rice cooker anyway because the temperature keeps too high–water evaporates too much and rice gets all dried out within a few hours so there is no point in having a rice cooker that’s also supposed to keep the rice warm.

My grandma used to make rice in just an old pot, not in a fancy rice cooker.  I can do it, too.  Rice tastes better when you make it in a pot or stone bowl rather than in a rice cooker anyway.

a rice pot

like this one! but just any old pot works too

Rice is the most important dish in Korean cuisine.  All the side dishes, stews, soups and meat dishes are all there to accompany rice, not the other way around.  Rice is the main dish.  May as well make it right.

…but since I’ve only made rice in a pot once before, I consulted my new Korean cookbook, 아름다운 한국음식 100선 (or, The Beauty of Korean Food):

아름다운 한국음식

English version

Plain white rice, adopted and translated (loosely) from the above cookbook

450g Korean or Japanese short grain rice

600g water

Prep:  Wash the rice.  Add the water and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

1.  Pour rice and water into the pot.

2.  Keep the pot on high heat for about 4 minutes.  Once it starts boiling, leave it on for another 4 minutes.

3.  Turn the heat to medium for about 3 minutes.  Once the rice looks cooked (as in looking softer and no longer translucent), turn the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for another 10 minutes.

4.  Use the rice spoon to gently scoop the rice out and serve in a bowl.

Note:  If the water starts boiling over too much, open the lid just for a while and put the lid back on.  Do not let the rice sit too long before putting on the stove as the stickiness disappears.

The actual recipe is more complicated, believe it or not, for just a bowl of plain white rice.  Because you have to play with the heat level, you have to baby the rice pot the first few times you make it.  If you don’t lower the heat on time, your rice will end up as “three-layer rice”, consisted of burnt bottom, cooked middle and raw top.  You don’t want that.  Once you do it a few times, you will get a feel for it and find it easy to make the rice without the automated rice cooker, the way my grandma used to.

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