There is a delicious reason a basic bowl of white rice is the starting point of so many meals around the world. It’s affordable, filling and comforting, as well as accommodating of practically any flavor. That versatility means it can take just a few bold strokes to transform white rice into a satisfying meal.

In Japan, the solution is as easy as an ear of corn, a bit of butter and a dash of soy sauce. Called tomorokoshi gohan, the dish is white rice cooked with fresh sweet corn and seasoned with butter shoyu (a deeply flavorful combination of soy sauce and butter).

The natural sweetness of the corn is a perfect foil for the umami-packed richness of the butter shoyu, which adds salty, savory depth. Its simplicity means it’s also easy to dress up further. Some versions use different grains or add smoked soy sauce and seaweed, while others are topped with fresh herbs or a dollop of fermented chili paste.

In Japan, tomorokoshi gohan is a summer dish, made when corn is in season. But we found frozen corn works well, too, creating a year-round meal made from just a few pantry basics.

For our version, we cook the rice and corn with a tablespoon of soy sauce, then stir in the butter for richness. To finish, a scattering of scallions adds a burst of peppery freshness, resulting in a surprisingly simple dish with fresh, vibrant flavors—any time of year.