Sushi Rice - dummies

By Judi Strada, Mineko Takane Moreno

You might think rice is rice, but making sushi rice takes a special touch (and a lot of steps!). Because the rice is such an important part of any sushi dish, don’t forego the sushi-rice preparation.

Special sushi tools: Rice cooker, sushi paddle, sushi tub

Preparation time: About 1 1/2 hours

Cooking time: About 25 minutes

Yield: 5 to 6 cups

2 cups short- or medium-grain white rice

2 cups water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2-inch square piece of dashi konbu

1 tablespoon sake, or to taste

  1. Remove the inner pot from the rice cooker, placing the raw rice into it.

  2. Fill the inner pot with enough cold water to cover the rice.

  3. Swirl the rice around in the pot, using an opened hand, for 5 or 6 seconds.

    As silly as it sounds, rinse the rice gently. Dry rice grains are brittle.

  4. Wait a second or two until the rice settles down and then carefully pour off the cloudy water.

    Never let the rice soak in this milky water, or the cooked rice won’t taste fresh.

  5. Rinse the rice three or more times, until the water is almost clear.

  6. Add 2 cups water to the rice.

  7. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes.

  8. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl.

  9. Stir it continuously for a minute or two, until the mixture goes from cloudy to clear.

    Clarity indicates that the sugar and salt have dissolved.

  10. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

    You can refrigerate this mixture for several days, but you don’t want to pour cold dressing over the hot rice, so return it to room temperature before using.

  11. Wipe off the dashi konbu with a damp paper towel or run it quickly under tap water.

  12. Cut a few slits in the sides of the dashi konbu.

    These slits help release its flavors.

  13. Add the dashi konbu and sake to the rice right before you cook it.

  14. Place the inner pot in the rice cooker base.

  15. Plug in the cooker and turn it on.

    The rice cooker takes it from here, turning off (or down) at the appropriate time.

  16. When the rice is done, let it rest for 15 minutes.

    Don’t remove the lid!

  17. Moisten the sushi paddle and the sushi tub with water.

    Wetting the tools helps keep the cooked rice from sticking.

  18. Remove the dashi konbu from the rice.

    It’s edible, so you can mince it for use in soups or salads, or you can discard it.

  19. Run the damp paddle down and around the rice pot to loosen the rice.

  20. Invert the rice pot over the sushi tub, causing the cooked rice to fall into it.

    Sometimes, the rice falls out in a perfect cake form, and other times, it crumbles. It doesn’t matter which way it comes out.

  21. Slowly pour the rice vinegar dressing over the rice paddle onto the hot rice, moving the paddle around over the rice as you do so.

  22. Wait a few seconds, giving the rice time to absorb most of the rice vinegar dressing.

    A little of the dressing may puddle out under the rice. This is fine.

  23. Spread the rice into a thin, even layer by using the rice paddle in a cutting motion, separating the chunks of rice.

    Don’t stir it. Simply cut through it, trying not to mash the rice. This process takes about 1 minute.

  24. Turn the rice over gently, in small portions, allowing steam to escape, for about 1 minute.

  25. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning as you do so.

  26. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam.

    The rice should still feel a little warm, but it’s done!

If your cooked rice seems a little too dry or wet when it’s finished, don’t fret. It still tastes good and can be used for sushi.

Tip: Don’t measure the cooking water for the rice from the directions on rice bags. Sushi rice is made with less water to achieve a chewier texture than everyday rice. The rice should be level in the pot and completely covered with the water.

Sometimes, rice browns a bit on the bottom when it cooks. Don’t worry — the color disappears when you spread the rice out. If a little brown still peeks through, by the time you top or toss the rice with other ingredients, you won’t even notice.