Sushi (すし、寿司) is a Japanese dish made up of cooked vinegared rice which is commonly topped with other ingredients or put into rolls. With the base sushi rice (酢飯) recipe, you can make all types of sushi such as nigiri zushi, maki zushi, inari zushi and temaki. For fellow sushi lovers, here’s a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to cook sushi rice. This will be the base rice recipe for all sushi recipes.
Measure the rice. Use short-grain Japanese rice (not any type of rice).
Rinse the rice in several changes of water until the water runs clear (skip this step if you are using pre-washed rice). The first few changes of water will likely be quite cloudy. Drain the rice in a colander for roughly 30 minutes. Draining the rice is believed to improve the texture and appearance of the cooked rice, but I usually skip this step if I’m pressed for time.
Measure and add water for cooking the rice (1 cup rice: 1 1/4 cup water). My rice cooker is a Japanese brand so the pot came with its own water marking for sushi rice. Optional – add a piece of kelp/konbu (make cuts all over) and sake for additional flavour. Cook the rice using a rice cooker or simmer over the stove top.
While waiting for the rice to cook, prepare vinegar mixture by mixing rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small, non-aluminum saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. You may also use a microwave oven and heat using low power for about a minute. Alternatively, use ready-made seasoned rice vinegar which has already been mixed with sugar & salt, and can be used straight from the bottle.
When the rice is cooked, discard the piece of kelp.
Transfer the cooked rice (while it is still hot) to a hangiri or wide bowl. Pour prepared vinegar mixture over the rice. Stir the rice (gentle slicing action) using a rice paddle with one hand, while fanning the rice with a paper fan on the other hand. Do so until the rice has cooled to room temperature. Fanning the rice gets rid of excess moisture and gives the rice grains a glossy look.
It is difficult for me to coordinate everything with only 2 hands (fanning, stirring & photographing), so I mounted a portable fan along the side of my kitchen cabinet to automate the fanning process.
Cover the bowl of rice with a damp slotted cloth (dim sum cloth is perfect for this role) to keep the rice fresh and moist. Use the rice as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours. If you refrigerate the rice, it will turn hard and dry.
Your sushi rice is now ready to be used for making all kinds of Japanese sushi.