Dear Chef Wilson,

No matter what I do, I can’t make a proper pot of rice (even when I use a rice cooker, it’s still a crap shoot). I’ve never really figured out the water-to-rice ratio and every time I make it, it comes out mushy and tasteless. What’s the trick?

– Pierre T.

Bowl of Long Grain White Rice with Spoon

Chef Wilson’s Response:

Considering its popularity around the world, you would think that rice should be a nice, simple dish to cook. Clearly, that’s not the case for everyone. But never fear! I’m going to give you a simple technique for a never-fail rice pilaf and then explain how, with a few simple ingredients, you can add excitement to your rice.

How to cook perfect rice:

  1. Peel and finely chop one small onion. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil or butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until the onion begins to brown.
  2. Stir in one cup of converted rice. Season with one teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Continue stirring over the heat until all the grains of rice are coated with the fat.
  3. Pour in two cups of water or stock (vegetable or chicken), stir well, and cover. Increase heat to high until the liquid comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Remove from heat and let it sit covered for five minutes. Stir in one tablespoon of butter and adjust seasoning to your taste.

That’s it. That’s all. Now, how to liven it up:

INDIAN: Add one tablespoon of curry powder when you add the onion. After the rice has rested for five minutes, stir in two tablespoons of raisins and two tablespoons of slivered almonds with the butter.

MEXICAN: Add one chopped jalapeno pepper (with or without seeds) and one chopped sweet red pepper along with the onion. When stirring in the butter at the end, add two tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander and the juice of one lime.

GARDEN: With the onion at the beginning, add half a cup of small diced carrots, one celery stalk (finely chopped), and a half a cup of frozen peas or corn. Proceed with recipe as instructed, using vegetable stock. At the end, stir in three tablespoons of chopped parsley or chives along with the butter.

Steve Wilson is the Executive Chef at The Summit Golf & Country Club in Richmond Hill, Ontario. In his downtime, he trips over a house full of children, German Shepherds, a chubby cat and a remarkably tolerant wife.

Chef Wilson will join us each week to answer your pressing food-related questions. Post them in the comments section below for consideration.