Getting the rice right is the most important part of making good sushi. After all, the word sushi just means vinegared rice in Japanese. Whether you’ve just bought a shiny new rice cooker or you’re using a saucepan, this guide will have you cooking sushi rice like a pro.
Preparation & Cleaning
Firstly, make sure the rice you’re using is actually sushi rice, or shari in Japanese. Trying to cook other forms of rice isn’t going to work! Choose polished (white) short-grain rice that is specifically designed for sushi. As a general rule, you’ll need 1 cup of rice to make 3 averagely-sized sushi rolls. For a meal for two, 1.5 cups of rice is about right.
Next, wash the rice thoroughly to remove the starchy powder that clings to the grains. Pour the rice into a sieve and submerge it in a bowl full of cold water. Wash the rice by moving the rice around and discard the milky water. Repeat until the water is clear and then allow the rice to drain for 30 minutes.
Once the rice has been thoroughly washed and drained, it needs to be cooked. You can create perfect rice with or without a rice cooker:
If you have a rice cooker,
- Place the washed rice into the rice cooker and add one and a half cups of cold water for each cup of rice.
- Turn the rice cooker on, selecting “white rice” if your model has an option.
- Once the rice is cooked, the rice cooker will switch to “warming” mode. Let the rice sit in the cooker without opening the lid for about 15 minutes to complete steaming.
If you’re using a saucepan,
- Place the washed rice into a heavy-based pan and add one and a half cups of cold water for each cup of rice.
- Place a tight-fitting lid onto the pan. Bring to the boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes.
- After boiling for 5 minutes, reduce the temperature to a low heat and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- After cooking on a low heat for 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to stand for a further 10 minutes.
You may find that the rice close the bottom of the saucepan gets overcooked or burnt. Discard that when moving onto the next step!
When handling the cooked rice, avoid using any metal utensils as these can leave the rice with a metallic taste. A wooden spoon or plastic rice paddle (or just a plastic spatula) works best.
Place the cooked rice onto a flat tray and spread it out evenly. Slowly add the sushi seasoning (2 and a half tablespoons per cup of uncooked rice) while mixing the seasoning into the rice with a gentle folding action. Fan the rice gently to help cool it down. The rice should now start to take on a glossy look.
Prepared sushi rice should be stored at cool room temperature, covered with a moist cloth or plastic wrap. It will keep this way for up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate it or freeze it, as this destroys the texture.
That’s it, you’ve made it! Once the rice has cooled, you can start rolling your own sushi at home! Our handy sushi cheat sheet shows some of the most common rolls and our sushi makings kits have everything you need to prepare authentic sushi at home (including good quality sushi rice and seasoning!) Itadakimasu (bon appétit)!