Cooking and mixing rice for sushi – known as “sushimeshi” or “vinegar rice” – is a time-consuming task. Most sushi is mainly composed of rice, and in fact, the presence of vinegar rice is what defines a dish as sushi. Do not try to hurry your sushi rice or it will never have the proper texture. In order to ensure that your sushi rice has the right balance of vinegar flavor and the perfect sushimeshi texture, follow these steps closely and carefully to complete the sushi rice recipe.
You will need:
- Sauce pot
- Sauce pan
- Rice paddle
- Large wooden tray or bowl
- Japanese rice (or another short-grained white rice)
- Rice vinegar
Step 1: Wash and Soak the Rice
- Wash ½ cup or more of uncooked, short-grain white rice until the rice is clear.
- Drain the rice thoroughly and allow it to dry in the strainer for 30 minutes.
- Add the rice to a sauce pot. Shake the pot to flatten the rice.
- Fill the pot with water until the water reaches a line about one inch above the rice.
- Allow the rice to soak in the water for thirty minutes.
Sushi rice can be cooked in a rice cooker as an alternative to a sauce pot.
Step 2: Make the Tezu
Tezu is the traditional Japanese mixture that you will use to moisten your fingers and ensure that the rice does not stick to your hands. As the rice is soaking, mix together in a bowl 1 c. water, 2 tbsp. rice vinegar and 1 tsp. salt. This is your tezu. Set it aside.
Step 3: Cook the Rice
- Cover the pot with a lid.
- Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil.
- As soon as the water reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer the rice for 18 to 22 minutes.
- Remove the pot full of rice from the burner.
- Let the rice sit in the pot, with the lid still on, for about 10 minutes.
Step 4: Make the Sushi-zu
- As the rice sits, add 6 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt to another sauce pan.
- Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt in the pan at a low heat until the sugar melts.
- Remove the pan from the burner and allow the mixture to cool. This is your sushi vinegar and is known as “sushi-zu”.
Step 5: Mix the Sushi Rice
- Take your wooden bowl or tray and, with a damp cloth, coat the surface with tezu.
- Use your shamoji, or rice paddle, to gently fold and fluff the rice, then transfer it onto your wooden bowl or tray.
- Moisten your fingers with the tezu to prevent the rice from sticking. Set your tezu aside; you may need to use it again when you make your sushi.
- Use your fingertips to gently spread the rice over the surface of the bowl or tray.
- Take your sushi-zu and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the rice. You should use 1 tbsp of sushi-zu to 1 cup of cooked rice.
- Take the rice paddle, slide it under the rice and use it to gently turn and fold the rice. Do not put any pressure on the rice or it will become smashed and mushy.
Step 6: Dry and Cool the Rice
- During and after the folding of the rice, use an electric or handheld fan to gently cool and dry the rice.
- Wait for the rice to cool before using it to make sushi.
Follow these steps and you can make the perfect sushi rice with the ideal taste and texture for making sushi. When the sushi rice is done, it should be shiny and have a sticky feel. It should be somewhat chewy, but not overly so. The grains should still be intact – if it is mushy, you need to start over. The majority of most sushi rolls and other forms of sushi are more than two-thirds rice. Having the right texture and flavor of sushi rice is absolutely essential for making high-quality sushi.