- Sushi rice is Japanese rice dressed with a vinegar-sugar-salt dressing. It is the basis of several different kinds of sushi (rice) dishes. Note: o-nigiri is never made with sushi rice.
- Use regular white short-grain Japanese rice, or medium-grain California rice. You are likely paying extra if you buy rice sold as “sushi rice.”
- If you are using Japanese rice, rinse it in a bowl of cold water, gently rubbing the grains for 20 to 30 seconds. Drain, and add fresh water. Repeat the gentle washing and draining for a total of 4 times.
- Cooking sushi rice is different from cooking rice for a meal, where you let it soak for 30 minutes before cooking. The proportions of rice to water are different.
- I usually use California rice, so I skip the washing. For sushi rice, I do. And I follow step 4 below.
- For sushi rice, do not soak! Instead, rinse the rice and let it drain in a colander for an hour. This step helps to make the cooked rice firm You want firm rice when you toss it with the dressing so that the dressing coats the grains of rice rather than soaking in.
- Use only the best quality rice vinegar for the dressing. Remember, this is a key flavor of your sushi rice. If the vinegar does not taste good, then neither will your sushi rice.
- Avoid buying the “sushi seasoned” rice vinegar. It is so easy to make your own vinegar dressing with the simple addition of only sugar and salt to your own taste, why would you want to buy a bottled (with what additives) version?
- For mixing the rice and vinegar dressing:
- A hangiri is a container made of unfinished cypress wood. The wood absorbs moisture and retains heat so the rice does not become watery as you toss it with the dressing. Soak the hangiri and the wooden rice paddle for 30 minutes before using so that the rice won’t stick to the dry wood. Dry wood will also absorb some of the dressing.
- An unfinished wooden salad bowl is a good substitute for a hangiri. Or use a large glass bowl.
- The least desirable option is to put the cooked rice all at once into a large colander placed over a glass bowl. Break the rice roughly with a wooden spatula—vertical chopping, not stirring, which will break the grains,— and pour the dressing evenly over the rice in a large circular motion. Cutting vertically, lifting, and turning, toss the rice thoroughly. Pour any drops of dressing collected in the bowl back over the rice, and toss it again.
- Transfer the cooked rice all at once into the wooden tub (or salad bowl). With a circular motion, quickly pour the vinegar dressing evenly over the rice. Toss the rice thoroughly by cutting into it vertically with the spatula, and then lifing the rice and turning it over. Don’t mash the rice! The tossing should take only a couple of minutes.
- Fan the rice briefly. Fanning the rice facilitates quick cooling and drying of the vinegar to make it glossy.
- Prepared sushi rice should be stored at cool room temperature, covered with a moist cotton cloth. Never refrigerate sushi rice—it becomes unpleasantly firm.
Recipe for the Rice:
(See the author of The Japanese Kitchen making Sushi Rice)
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 1 1/2 cups waterone
- 2-inch square konbu
- 2 Tablespoons sake
Place the rice and measured water into a heavy-bottomed pot. The pot should be three times deeper than the water and rice. Put the pot over medium heat. Cook uncovered until the water level is equal to the rice level. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot with a heavy lid, and cook until all the water is absorbed and the rice grains are plump. Let the cooked rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes. The resting allows the moisture to settle into the rice grains, making it easier to toss.
Sushi Vinegar Dressing:
- 3 Tablespoons komezu (Japanese rice vinegar)
- 1 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
As soon as the rice begins cooking, combine the ingredients and stir well. By the time the rice is cooked, the sugar should be dissolved. (Alternately, you can microwave or boil the mixture to dissolve the sugar, but never let it boil!)
Su Water for handling the rice:
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- 2 cups cold water
To prevent the rice sticking to your hands or utensils, dip into this mixture.
Below is a table that will allow you to make various amounts of sushi rice:
Proportions for Basic Sushi Rice
|Rice and Water||Vinegar||Sugar||Salt||Yield|
|2 1/4||3||4 1/2||1 1/2||1 1/2||2.1|
|Add to the cooking water for all the above:
—————one 2-inch square kombu, and 2 TBS. sake————–
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