Sushi rice is the basic building block of many sushi variations. It is the hero ingredient of any sushi dish, and it will determine the quality of any sushi you make. So I am going to share the authentic way to make it perfect.
What is SUSHI by the way?
The first Sushi was introduced as a method of preserving fish utilising rice fermentation. Japanese people started to eat preserved fish with the rice after the Muromachi era. What we call Sushi is a bit different from its origin.
So-called “寿司(sushi)”, the Chinese character was used as a phonetic equivalent in the Edo period. Furthermore, the word “SUSHI” is derived from Su-me-shi. The middle sound “me” was dropped later and became “su-shi”. Su means vinegar, (me)shi means rice. Therefore sushi is vinegar rice.
Sushi rice is the foundation of any Sushi
Sushi is an essential part of Japanese cuisine and is probably the most famous and popular Japanese food. If you master how to make the perfect sushi rice, you can make any type of sushi successfully. Those sushi variations are as follows and also see the Sushi guide.
- Makizushi (rolled sushi),
- Chirashi-zushi (Scattered sushi),
- Oshi-zushi (pressed sushi),
- Temaki zushi (hand rolled sushi),
- Temari-zushi (sushi balls)
- sushi donuts
- mehari zushi
The secret behind the delicious sushi
The main part of all these different types of sushi is obviously rice. It’s vital that this is made well, so whatever type of sushi you choose to make will turn out super delicious! To help you make sure that your sushi is always the most delicious it can be, I’m sharing with you the perfect sushi rice recipe!
Which variety of Rice?
To make perfect sushi rice, you need to use appropriate rice variety. For making sushi you need to use short-grain rice, Japonica preferably, “ Koshihikari”. Long grain rice such as Jasmine rice or Basmati rice is not suitable because they are too dry for making sushi. Furthermore, they are not sticky enough to keep the sushi shape.
You can get Koshihikari rice from Japanese grocery stores, supermarkets, and online stores. Choosing the right type of rice and cooking the rice properly can improve any homemade rice to restaurant-quality sushi rice.
How to cook rice for making sushi?
I usually use a Rice Cooker. Even if you use a rice cooker, it is important to use a little less water than normal to cook the rice. Because the rice will be combined with vinegar mixture and will absorb the vinegar mixture. It is important not to use the cup that comes with the rice cooker because they are all different sizes. To follow the recipe accurately, use a standard measuring cup (240ml).
If you don’t have a rice cooker, see my “how to cook rice the Japanese way” post. You need 10 % less water for sushi rice. Also, don’t forget to add a piece of Konbu (kelp). Konbu will give the rice a subtle fragrance, glossiness, and deep umami kick.
How much rice do I need to make a full sized sushi roll?
The standard size of a sushi roll is 8 inches (21cm) long and about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. It is determined by the size of a Nori seaweed sheet. The nori seaweeds standard size is 7.5 x 8 inches (19 x 21 cm). The size of sushi rolls that you can purchase from a sushi takeaway is usually ½ of one full-sized roll.
1 cup (240ml) of prepared sushi rice weighs about 5 oz (150g). You need 1.5 cups of prepared sushi rice to make a standard full-sized roll. This final prepared sushi rice includes sushi vinegar mixture. I explain this in the next paragraph.
Three ingredients for the sushi vinegar mixture
You can use a bottle of ready-made sushi vinegar. However, you can make your own sushi vinegar mixture easily from just three ingredients; rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Place the three ingredients in a small saucepan. Do not bring to a boil, but just till the sugar and salt dissolve. We don’t want to lose the fragrance of the vinegar. Cool to room temperature.
If you can not access Rice Vinegar, you can substitute this with champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
We have prepared a useful calculator for you to determine how much rice and other ingredients you need to make a full-sized sushi roll (8 inch long).
Kitchen equipment you need
Wooden tub – “Hangiri “, “Sushi-oke” or “Handai” are names for a Japanese wooden tub. It is a shallow and flat-bottom wooden tub used to make rice in Japan. You need to let it soak in water before use so that it will not soak up the vinegar for the rice and avoid the rice sticking to the tub.
If you do not have access to this type of tub, you can substitute with a large mixing bowl. Do not use the rice cooker bowl especially for mixing the vinegar in. The acidity of the vinegar will damage the rice cooker bowl.
A Japanese fan – “Uchiwa” is the name of the Japanese fan. Of course, it does not have to be this type. However, in order to make the rice shine, you need something to cool the rice down quickly while you are combining the vinegar with the rice.
No more mushy sushi rice! Tips to make it perfectly
4 tips to make sure the rice turns out the best it can:
- Make sure the rice is hot when you pour the vinegar on top so that the rice turns out nice and shiny.
- Don’t stir and squish the rice while mixing in the vinegar, you need to “cut” it into the rice.
- Use a fan to cool the rice as you “cut” the vinegar into it, so the rice is shiny.
- Cool to room temperature and cover the rice with wet kitchen cloths to avoid the rice getting dry. Do not keep in the fridge.
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Remember to use the ingredients calculator above to determine the quantity of rice and other ingredients for the number of full-sized sushi rolls you wish to make.
Sushi Vinegar (Sushizu)
- 4 tbsp Rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cups Uncooked sushi rice *1
- 1.8 cups of water
- 1 strip of Kelp (about 5 cm/2inch) *2 or I tsp Konbu dashi powder
- Wash the rice a few times or until the washing water becomes clear. Drain the washing water and place the rice in a rice cooker.
- Add the kepl strip and water and cook the rice as per your rice cooker instructions. *3
- While the rice is cooking, in a small pot, heat the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt together to make the sushi vinegar on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Moisten the wooden tub with water and wipe excess water off with a cloth.
- Once the rice is cooked, remove the kelp strip (if you used a kelp strip) from the rice and place the rice into the wooden tub. Pour the sushi vinegar over it and mix to flavour the rice while fanning it to cool down the rice.
- While the rice is hot, pour the sushi vinegar mixture over the rice.
- Turn and mix to flavour the rice with rice spatula (called Shamoji) while fanning it to cool down the rice.
- While fanning with the Japanese fan (called Uchiwa) make sure that you are not mashing the rice, rather more like cutting motion.
- All the rice to cool at room temperature and place a moistened cloth over to avoid getting dry.