To make plump, tender, moist rice—the kind that is easily picked up with chopsticks—use Japanese short-grain rice. Also use a heavy, covered pot or special rice pot. These pots have a little lip and an inset lid to prevent boil-overs.

Allowing 1⁄2 cup of uncooked rice per person, wash the rice in a pot, covering it with cold water. Swish the grains around with your hand until the water turns milky. Drain and rewash rice repeatedly until the water is clear. (This may take 5 or 10 minutes.) Drain rice, then set aside for at least 1⁄2 hour.

To serve 4, put 2 cups washed rice into the pot, add 3 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Never stir the rice and do not remove the lid. Boil for a minute or two (a white starchy liquid will bubble up, spilling out from under the lid a bit). Reduce heat to the lowest setting and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, place a paper towel under the lid to absorb any excess moisture, and allow rice to rest, covered, on the burner for another 10 minutes.