Rice seems like it shouldn’t be hard to make—you just add water and simmer until it’s tender, right? But it’s surprisingly easy to mess up. I, personally, have been guilty of adding too much water (resulting in soupy rice that needs to be strained) and, on other occasions, of burning the bottom of my pot of rice as a result of not having watched it closely enough. (Luckily, if you’re making paella you can get away with this by calling it a socarrat.)
Given the vagaries of cooking rice, I understand why some people opt for the guaranteed results of a rice cooker. But it’s possible to get fluffy, perfectly cooked rice every time without a technological intervention. You just need to take a few extra steps, chief among them rinsing and soaking. Watch the video above for Jamelle Bouie’s fundamentals of foolproof rice.