By Hideo Dekura, Brigid Treloar, Ryuichi Yoshii, Authors of The Complete Book of Sushi
Reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, a member of the Periplus Publishing Group.
Tips for making perfect sushi rice
1 To successfully make sushi rice, choose short or medium grain rice; this has the right texture, taste and consistency to cling together without being too sticky when cooked.
2 A rice cooker is highly recommended as it produces perfect rice every time. The absorption method in a saucepan or microwave also works well, but avoid the rapid boil method.
3 Rinse rice 3–4 times before cooking to remove excess surface starch that could make the rice too sticky. Drain for 15 minutes.
4 Cool warm rice using an electric fan on lowest setting.
5 The standard rice cup provided with a rice cooker = 1 cup (5 oz/150 g) uncooked rice; 1 metric cup (8 oz/ 250 g) = about 1 1/3 cups (7 oz/220 g) uncooked rice. Be sure to use the same cup to measure rice and water.
6 The texture of cooked rice is a matter of taste and varies with the age and storage conditions of uncooked rice. For a softer rice texture, cook the rice with a little more water. For a firmer texture, decrease the water amount.
7 Sushi rice is cooked with slightly less water than rice served as a side dish. It is slightly firmer and chewier than plain steamed rice.
3 cups (20 oz/600 g) uncooked short grain rice
3-3 ¼ cups (24–27 fl oz/750–815 ml) water depending on age of rice and texture preference (see Tip number 6 above)
8 tablespoons (3.5 fl oz/120 ml) rice vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 Put rice in a bowl, fill bowl with cold water and mix gently with hand. Drain and repeat 2–3 times until water is nearly clear.
2 Leave rice under cold running water for a few minutes.
3 Drain well for 15–30 minutes or put rice and measured water in rice cooker or saucepan and let stand for 30 minutes.
4 To make sushi vinegar: Combine vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring well until sugar dissolves. Mixture can be gently heated to dissolve sugar and make the vinegar slightly milder. Set aside until required.
5 To cook rice in a rice cooker: Measure rice. After rinsing, put rice in rice cooker and add water to the required cup measurement marked on inside of bowl in rice cooker. Cover and switch to cook. When cooker switches to keep warm, let stand with lid on to complete cooking process, about 10 minutes.
6 To cook rice in a saucepan: In a medium saucepan bring rinsed rice and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, on low heat until all water is absorbed, 12–15 minutes.
7 Remove from heat and let stand with lid on to complete the cooking process, 10–15 minutes. Note: Rice can also be cooked in the microwave or steamed in a bamboo steamer.
8 Spread rice out in a large, preferably flat-bottomed, nonmetallic bowl or tub
9 Using a rice paddle or wooden spoon, slice through rice at a 45 degree angle to break up any lumps, while slowly pouring sushi vinegar over rice to distribute evenly. You may not need all the vinegar.
10 Continue to slice, not stir (as it squashes the grains), lifting and turning the rice from the outside into the center
11 Fan the rice so it cools to body temperature, turning it occasionally, 5–8 minutes. Cooling gives good flavor, texture and gloss to the rice. If rice becomes too cold it hardens; do not refrigerate.
12 To stop rice from drying out, keep covered with a damp cloth while making sushi. Alternatively, keep in a nonstick surface rice cooker.
Makes about 9 cups (about 3 lb/1.5 kg), depending on how densely rice was packed.
For additional flavor, add a piece of konbu or a little sake to the rice while it is cooking. For variety, add grated lemon zest, finely chopped fresh herbs, roasted nuts, toasted sesame seeds, pickled vegetables, wakame (seaweed) or finely grated fresh ginger to cooked sushi rice.
Tip for making black sushi rice
Follow the steps for white sushi rice with the following variations: at Step 1, combine uncooked shortgrain rice with 3 tablespoons of uncooked black rice. At Step 4, combine salt and vinegar, but add 1 tablespoon mirin and only 2 tablespoons sugar.
Brown sushi rice
2 cups (13 oz/400 g) uncooked short grain brown rice
2 ¾-3 cups water (22–24 fl oz/685–750 ml), depending on age of rice and texture preference (see Tip number 6 above)
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Although short grain brown rice does not cling as easily as short grain white rice, its nutty flavor and chewier texture make an interesting alternative. Rinse brown rice once and cook as white sushi rice until most liquid is absorbed, about 30–35 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, 10–15 minutes longer. Combine ingredients of sushi vinegar, stir into rice and fan to cool.