The Absolute Best Way to Make White Rice, According to My Korean Mom

Growing up in the suburbs, my family and I would go to steakhouses often, our Friday night ritual at the end of the workweek. Think: ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, Louis Huang’s Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse. As soon as we’d come home from dinner, even after that huge meal, my dad would head straight to the kitchen and spoon himself some cold leftover white rice from the rice cooker (the gonggi bap), eat it, standing, straight out of the cooker with some ice-cold kimchi from the fridge, maybe a sheet or two of gim (roasted seaweed snack). Dinner was never dinner unless there was white rice to round everything out. It was as if my dad couldn’t feel fully satiated without it—even restaurant bread baskets weren’t enough to fill the deep void in his rice-loving stomach.

I imagine many other Koreans can identify with this. It signifies the long-lasting lore I’ve always felt that white rice is food, and food is white rice. If you’re Korean, then you can’t live without it.