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How To Make Sushi Rice 酢飯

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  • Learn how to make sushi rice perfectly every time with step-by-step pictures and a video tutorial. All you need is simple ingredients such as sushi vinegar, sugar, salt and dashi kombu. Once you master the secret of making the rice, you will be ready to dish up all kinds of mouth-watering sushi recipes!

    Sushi rice in hangiri.

    Perfectly cooked Sushi Rice (酢飯) is fundamental in making authentic sushi and exploring Japanese cooking. Once you’ve mastered perfectly seasoned and fluffy sushi rice, your sushi tastes much better. This authentic sushi rice recipe is easy to make at home. Follow my basic tutorial for perfect sushi rice.

    What is Sushi Rice?

    In Japan, sushi rice means the steamed rice that’s flavored with vinegar-based seasonings and we only use this vinegared rice when we make all kinds of sushi. If you are here looking for a recipe to make plain steamed rice, see my post on How to Make Rice post.

    However, it gets a little tricky because some rice companies outside of Japan call their short-grain Japanese rice “sushi rice”. It definitely calls for attention especially if you are planning to make Japanese food, like sushi.

    Sushi Rice Package

    So when your sushi recipe says sushi rice, make sure to make “vinegared rice” with short-grain Japanese rice.

    In Japanese, we call sushi rice Sushi-meshi 鮨飯, Su-meshi (酢飯), or shari (シャリ). It’s made of white, short-grain Japanese rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Brown rice is sometimes used outside of Japan, but it’s not common in sushi restaurants in Japan.

    Why do we season rice with vinegar to make sushi?

    You might wonder why the Japanese season rice with vinegar. It actually goes back to the origin of sushi. The literal meaning of sushi means “sour flavor”. Historically, the way people stored fish was by wrapping it in fermented rice. When they were ready to enjoy the fish, the fermented rice was actually tossed away. Sometime between the 1300s and 1500s, the Japanese slowly stopped using fermented rice and instead added vinegar to the rice to further increase the shelf life. The vinegar made the rice taste good as well so they started to eat the fish and the rice together, which evolved to today’s sushi.

    These days with refrigeration there is no longer the issue of fish being spoiled, but the centuries of sushi rice’s umami flavor with the vinegar being added stayed.

    Sushi rice in hangiri.

    How to Make Perfect Sushi Rice

    1. Type of Rice

    To achieve an authentic Japanese standard, you want to use only short-grain Japanese rice to make sushi rice. This is because the consistency and flavor of Japanese rice are very different from long-grain rice, jasmine rice, or other types of rice. With a higher content of moisture, Japanese rice is characterized by its unique stickiness and texture, which attributes to the toothsome bite of authentic sushi.

    There are various  Japanese rice brands out there available in the market. Some of my favorite ‘first grade’ brands for Japanese rice include Koshihikari from Toyama Prefecture, Japan, or Koshihikari from California (see my Pantry page).

    2. Preparing the Rice

    To produce properly cooked Japanese rice, you want to make sure the rice is washed and rinsed for a few times until no more starch comes out from the water. Then let the rice soaked for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This allows the rice grains to yield a better texture.

    3. Cooking Tools

    You can cook the rice using a pot over the stove, but the most convenient way is to cook sushi rice using an electric rice cooker. In my Japanese home kitchen, my trusted rice cooker brand is Zojirushi Rice Cooker. Because I cook sushi rice often, this rice cooker has ‘sushi’ option which makes it really easy to ensure perfectly cooked rice.

    4. Seasonings

    The basic seasonings needed for sushi rice include sushi vinegar, salt, and sugar to achieve the balance of sweet, salty and sourish taste. If you can find kombu, I highly recommend adding it to cook with the rice for a more umami flavor.

    You can use pre-made sushi vinegar or simply make it yourself by combining rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.

    Is My Sushi Rice Perfectly Cooked?

    After the rice is steamed, the texture should be fluffy with a firm bite. And each rice grain should be sticky yet retain its shape. Mushy rice means it has too much water or it’s overcooked. If the rice is fresh, you will see a nice shiny gloss on the surface of each grain. 

    There you have it – the basics of making sushi rice perfectly! Once you get the rice right, you’ll be ready to make some delicious sushi recipes.

    Watch How To Make Sushi Rice

    Simple instruction on how to make sushi rice with kombu, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.56 from 43 votes
    Sushi rice in hangiri.
    How to Make Sushi Rice
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    1 hr
    Total Time
    1 hr 45 mins
     

    Learn how to make sushi rice perfectly every time with step-by-step pictures and a video tutorial. All you need is simple ingredients such as sushi vinegar, sugar, salt and dashi kombu. Once you master the secret of making the rice, you will be ready to dish up all kinds of mouth-watering sushi recipes!

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: japanese rice, rice, sushi
    Servings: 6 cups
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    Homemade Sushi Vinegar (or buy "sushi seasoning" - see Notes):
    • cup rice vinegar (80 ml)
    • 3 Tbsp sugar (You can use 2 Tbsp if you want to cut down on sugar)
    • 1 ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients. 

      Sushi Rice Ingredients
    2. Please note: 1 rice cooker cup is 180 ml. So when you use a rice cooker, 1 cup means a rice cooker cup.

      Sushi Rice 0
    3. Put rice in a large bowl. Rinse the rice and discard the water immediately. Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start washing, so don't let the rice absorb the unclear water. Repeat this process 1-2 times.
      How To Prepare Sushi Rice 1
    4. Now use your fingers to gently wash the rice by moving in a circular motion.
      Sushi Rice 2
    5. Rinse and discard water. Repeat this process 3-4 times.
      Sushi Rice 3
    6. Let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes.
      Sushi Rice 4
    7. Transfer the rice into a sieve and drain completely.
      Sushi Rice 5
    8. Gently clean the dashi kombu with a damp cloth but leave the white powdery substances which contribute to the umami flavor in dashi. Do not wash the kombu.
      Sushi Rice 6
    9. Put the rice in the rice cooker bowl and add water (not hot or warm) to just under the 3 cup line. If your rice cooker has "Sushi" option, add water to 3 cup line for "Sushi". Since you add sushi vinegar to the rice, rice is on the firm side. If you cook rice without a rice cooker, water should be about 540 ml. Place the kombu on top of the rice and start cooking.

      Sushi Rice 7
    10. To make sushi vinegar, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. You can also put the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute, or till sugar is dissolved. Set aside to let it cool.
      Sushi Rice 8
    11. When the rice is cooked, moisten sushi oke/hangiri (a round, flat-bottom wooden tub) or a large glass bowl with water so the rice will not stick. Transfer the cooked rice into the sushi oke and spread out evenly so the rice will cool faster. While it’s hot, pour sushi vinegar over the rice.

      pouring vinegar solution on rice in a wooden container
    12. With a rice paddle, slice the rice at a 45 degree to separate the chunks of rice instead of mixing. At the same time, you need to use a fan to cool rice so the rice will shine and doesn't get mushy.

      Sushi Rice 10
    13. Then gently flip the rice in between slices. Repeat this process until the rice is cooled to the temperature of human skin.

      Sushi Rice 11
    14. Keep the rice covered with a damp towel (or paper towel) until ready to use.
      Sushi Rice 12
    Recipe Notes

    Rice: 1 rice cooker cup is 180 ml, not the same as 1 cup (US 240 ml). 1 rice cooker cup will make 2 rice cooker cups of cooked rice. Please use short grain rice for sushi. 

     

    Want to make less sushi rice? If you want to use 2 rice cooker cups (360 ml) instead of 3 cups, you can adjust sushi vinegar ingredients as following: 4 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp kosher salt.

     

    Sushi Vinegar: There is a convenient Sushi Seasoning available at Japanese/Asian grocery store. 

     

    Equipment you will need:

     

     

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Sushi Recipes

    Now with Sushi Rice, you can make all kinds of sushi recipes! If you are interested in learning more about Sushi, check out Learning at Sushi Skills Seminar in San Francisco. Enjoy!

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Aug 18, 2011. Photos updated in November 2013, video added in November 2014, content updated in May 2017.

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