By Vicki Liley, Author, Asian Appetizers
The first step in making sushi is to prepare the rice. It is well worth buying an electric rice cooker, as it reduces the process of cooking the rice to the simple press of a button. After cooking the rice, you will need a wooden sushi bowl and rice paddle or a large non-metallic mixing or salad bowl and a wooden spatula to make the sushi rice. Do not use metallic utensils as the vinegar used to make sushi rice can react with metal and cause an unpleasant taste.
Makes 4 cups (600 g) Sushi Rice
11/2 cups (300 g) uncooked short-grain Japanese rice
11/2 cups (375 ml) water
1 tablespoon mirin or sake
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1. Using a measuring cup, measure the required amount of rice and place it into a bowl that holds at least twice the volume of the rice.
2. Wash the rice by adding water to the bowl. Stir the rice briskly for about 10 seconds, then cover it with your hand and carefully drain away the milky water. Repeat this process until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a sieve to drain. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Place all the ingredients and the washed rice in the electric rice cooker and allow the rice to soak for 20 to 30 minutes —the rice grains will absorb moisture and start to swell.Then switch on the rice cooker.
4. Prepare the Vinegar Dressing by combining the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. To stop the vinegar from distilling off, set the bowl of vinegar in a cold water bath to speed up the cooling process.
5. Wipe the inside of a wooden bowl with a damp cloth to moisten it slightly and moisten the rice paddle with water. Transfer the cooked rice to the wooden bowl while it is still hot using the rice paddle.
6. Slowly pour the Vinegar Dressing evenly over the cooked rice, a little at a time and mix it into the rice with quick cutting strokes (not stirring) of the paddle across the bowl to separate the rice grains and spread the rice out. At the same time, fan the rice to cool it quickly by using a hand-held fan or an electric fan set at low. This will give a glossy finish to the rice. Continue until the rice is lukewarm. It should take about 10 minutes to mix in the sushi rice vinegar sauce thoroughly.
7. Spread a damp muslin cloth or kitchen towel over the rice to keep it moist and cover the bowl until ready to use.
Note: If not using an electric rice cooker, place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Soak the rice for 20–30 minutes, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil the rice for 1–2 minutes, then cover the pan tightly, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10–20 minutes until cooked. Turn off the heat and allow the cooked rice to steam for 20 minutes before removing the lid.
Do not refrigerate cooked Sushi Rice, as this causes the gluten to congeal and reduces the stickiness of the rice, making it hard to shape properly, as well as reducing the flavor. Prepared Sushi Rice will not keep until the next day.
Reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, a member of the Periplus Publishing Group.