Updated: Oct 2
Total: 30 - 40 minutes
Sushi is simple, but if you've never made it before, I understand creating homemade Sushi can be challenging. Before you can learn to look for what kind of fish you need to purchase for your Sushi (i.e. Sushi grade fish), there is one important step you need to make: Sushi Rice.
I've written some recipes for cooking Sushi Rice, but most of them call for using rice cooker. Many of my Sushi class participants (both in-person and especially online) told me they would like to know how to cook rice using a pot.
So in this recipe, I am going to walk you through step by step so you can make rice using a pot instead of the rice cooker. Even if you are a beginner in cooking rice, my hope is your rice will come out as "perfectly" as it can so you can go on to your next step in your "homemade" Sushi journey!
Making Sushi Rice is a multi-step process. I will cover each step and then, the recipe in the end.
Before I get into these steps, here is one important fact: Sushi Rice is Rice seasoned with Sushi Vinegar. Sushi Vinegar is a combination of rice vinegar, sugar and salt.
You may have seen rice labeled as "Sushi Rice" at the supermarket or online. Cooking that "Sushi Rice" does NOT automatically make it "Sushi Rice." You need to add Sushi Vinegar.
Here are the four steps we need to cover in this article:
Which type of rice for Sushi (INGREDIENTS)
Which Vinegar for Sushi Vinegar (INGREDIENTS)
Cooking Rice (RECIPE)
Making Sushi Vinegar and Mixing with Rice (RECIPE)
All right. Let's get things rolling!
1. WHICH RICE SHOULD I USE FOR HOMEMADE SUSHI??
TYPE OF RICE TO LOOK FOR
White Short Grain Rice (rice grown in Japan)
White Medium Grain Japanese Rice (more Japanese rice grown in the US)
White Sushi Rice
BRAND TO PURCHASE
What Is Japanese Rice?
Short grain and Medium Grain Rice.
Japanese Rice is Short Grain Rice. But, there are US grown Japanese Rice that are Medium Grain. Nishiki and Kokuho Rice are both Medium Grain Rice. Both are suitable for Sushi Rice.
I use Lundberg Organic Sushi Rice. This is US grown Short Grain Rice you can use to make Sushi and other non-Sushi dishes. Though it is labeled as "Sushi Rice," it does not have Sushi Vinegar added, so technically, it means "Short Grain Rice Suitable for Making Sushi."
Is Sushi Rice Sticky Rice?
No. Sticky Rice is different. You want to purchase (plain) Short or Medium Grain Rice.
There are two basic forms of Japanese rice that are common and considered as short grain cultivators of Japonica rice.
The first type of Japanese short-grain rice is Uruchimai粳米, it is also known as ordinary tics or Japanese rice. Uruchimaiis used to prepare Sushi, rice balls and other Japanese dishes. It is also used in the preparation of rice vinegar and sake. Uruchimaiis the one, which is used in our online and in-person Sushi making class.
The second kind is Japanese sweet rice or Mochigome 餅米. It is also known as glutinous rice. Japanese sweet rice is used to make traditional wagashi sweets or mochi rice cakes.
Both Uruchimaiand Mochigome are not interchangeable. They are used differently for different purposes. Mochigome is much chewier, stickier and glutinous as compared to uruchimai.
Mochigome, aka "Sticky Rice" is not used for Sushi.
Why Is Japanese Rice So Sticky?
Japanese rice is sticky because it has high moisture content and starch. It is characteristically defined as sticky and clingy. Starch is made up of amylose and amylopectin.
When the amount of amylose is low and amylopectin high in rice, it becomes sticky in nature. This is a kind of rice that is grown in Japan. The unique stickiness of Japanese rice plays an important role in creating good Sushi.
How Can I Substitute Japanese Rice?
Because of its similar stickiness texture, Arborio rice-- the Italian short-grain rice can be used in place of Japanese rice. Korean short grain rice will also go well with Japanese dishes.
The long-grain Jasmine or Basmati rice cannot be used in place of Japanese rice. These types of rice don't have enough stickiness because their amylopectin content is lower than that of Short Grain Rice. This is the reason why Jasmine and Basmati rice stay drier compared to Short Grain Rice.
As such, the rice will not stick together when you make rice balls or Sushi. It would be best not to use Basmati rice and long grain Jasmine rice as a substitute in Japanese meals.
2. WHICH VINEGAR FOR SUSHI VINEGAR?
TYPE OF VINEGAR TO LOOK FOR
Sushi Vinegar (seasoned)
(Optional) Red Rice Vinegar
(Optional) Black Rice Vinegar
Marukan Organic Rice Vinegar (My recommendation)
What is Sushi Vinegar?
Sushi Vinegar is Rice vinegar, sugar and salt.
Regular Rice Vinegar is most widely used to make Sushi Vinegar. There are "Seasoned Vinegar" and "Sushi Vinegar" that have sugar and salt mixed in, which you are ready to mix with cooked Short/Medium Grain Rice. If you are not sure if you need to add sugar or salt, look at the label for ingredients. If it contains sugar and salt, then, it can be used as Sushi Vinegar.
If you find Red or Black Rice vinegar, they are used mostly by high end boutique omakase only type Sushi restaurants. Red Vinegar was used when the current from of Sushi (Nigiri) was invented in Tokyo some 250 years ago. Some restaurants use Red Rice Vinegar to create the taste close to when Sushi was invented.
Also, some of these Sushi restaurants add only salt, not sugar. This is also true to the tradition of the original Sushi.
For homemade Sushi, especially if you are a beginner, regular Rice Vinegar with sugar and is a good start. Once you are comfortable with making "regular" Sushi Vinegar, you may want to experiment with Red Rice Vinegar or Sushi Vinegar without Sugar.
Salt:Sugar:Rice Vinegar is 1:3:5
Rice Vinegar 50g
Sugar 30g (Cane sugar is what I use but any sugar is fine)
Salt 10g (Sea Salt is what I use, but any salt would do)
Kombu (for extra Umami)
Whisk or Spoon
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use a whisk or spoon to stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.
If sugar and salt do not dissolve, place the mixture over low heat and stir until they are dissolved.
(Optional) Soak Kombu in Sushi Vinegar for at least one hour.
3. COOKING RICE IN A POT
Now you get the rice and rice vinegar down, you are ready to start cooking rice.
INGREDIENTS (4 – 5 cups cooked rice, for 6 - 8 inside out rolls):
400g (2 Japanese Cups) Short or Medium Grain White Japanese Rice
Water (Filtered, Bottled, Mineral/Spring)
Weigh your ingredients
Use a scale to weigh your ingredients. It is more accurate than measuring them by volume.
(Visual comparison looks the same, but when you weigh them, they weigh different)
The quality of water you use to wash and cook is just as important
Roughly 75% of cooked rice is water. So, it makes sense to use the best tasting water possible to cook, but why am I recommending using the best tasting (filtered, spring, or mineral) water to rinse your rice?
Soak your rice in cold water before you cook
When a soaking time is short, white short grain rice will be hard. The longer the soaking time is, the softer(gooey) and tender the white short grain rice will become. The optimal temperature is 5℃/ 41°F.
Lid is a Must!
You need to keep the boiling temperature while cooking rice, which means you need to place the lid on a pot while rice is being cooked. It's a must.
Another reason for the lid is to keep the internal temperature at. at 98℃/208.4°F.
The ideal cooking time for Short Grain/Medium Grain Rice is 20 minutes.
But if you keep the heat on for 20 minutes at 98℃, the bottom of the white short grain rice will get burnt (unless you have enough water in the pot.)
Therefore, after the water starts to boil (100℃), keep the low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the water evaporates, and turn the heat off. To keep the internal temperature above 98℃, you must keep the lid on. This is the reason you should never remove the lid after you turn off the heat.
Never put rice into boiling water
The heat penetrates only the outer layer, but not the dry inner layer, leaving the inside of rice undercooked. To cook unsoaked rice thoroughly, you end up overcooking the outer layer, resulting in pasting, creamy texture. If your rice ever ended up being this way, it could be because you skipped soaking and put rice in boiling water.