If you find making a perfect pot of white rice a challenge, you're not alone. Fluffy and tender rice is something that can elude even seasoned chefs. Here's a tip: Be sure not to skip the resting step at the end: as the rice sits off the heat, the moisture in the rice redistributes itself for a more uniform texture throughout the pot. For more help achieving perfect rice every time, read How to Cook Rice Perfectly and The Science of Cooking Rice. You can also download a detailed chart on How to Cook Rice, including 14 varieties and 5 common cooking methods, and watch a video detailing step-by-step how to cook rice.
Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water. Drain the rice well in a sieve.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine 1-3/4 cups water, the rice, and a bit of butter or oil and salt, if you like. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover. (If you have an electric stove, use two burners: bring the rice to a boil on a hot burner and then immediately slide it to a burner set on low to continue cooking at a slow simmer.) Cook at a gentle simmer until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 12 minutes (it's okay to lift the lid to make sure the rice is fully cooked and the water is absorbed—just replace the lid quickly).
Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, undisturbed with the lid on, for at least 5 minutes and for as long as 30 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the rice gently with a fork or chopstick, and serve.
Photo: Steve Hunter