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Cooking Rice For Sushi (How Hard Could It Be?)

Sushi is always a treat. Whether you’re picking up some spicy tuna rolls on the go, or sitting down for an hours-long meal at your favourite neighbourhood sushi spot, you just can’t go wrong. But part of becoming a more well-rounded, and adventurous home cook is working up the courage to make some of these special dishes – like sushi – at home.

Cooking Rice For Sushi

If you’re anything like me, there are certain foods you have too often relegated to the “must be bought” category in your brain. For some, this is coffee, bread, brunch, or even something as simple as a sandwich. For others, it’s more unique dishes, such as Thai curry, Indian Chana Masala, or Sushi rolls. But what if you could make some of these takeaway dishes at home? Would you give it a go? How hard can it really be?

That’s why I’m here. I want to help you demystify some of these foods that you’ve kept out of your home cooking repertoire. I want to help you move them from the “must be bought” category to the “I can make that at home – no worries!” category.

sushi rice

Sushi, as we know and love it today, originated in Japan, some say as early as 400 B.C. Originally, fresh fish was fermented in rice and rice vinegar, in order to cure the fish for later use. The rice would be discarded, and the fish consumed as needed. Centuries later, due to drought and food shortages, the fermented rice was also consumed alongside the fish, and the modern sushi dishes we love today started to take shape. 

These days, we can skip the long rice fermentation process and enjoy sushi rolls with fresh cooked, and well seasoned, rice. All it takes are some simple ingredients – even the fish is optional – and you’re on your way to making sushi at home. Home cooking is all about trying new things, and building new skills so that you can also build your confidence in the kitchen. Once you perfect your sushi rice game, then moving on to making your own spicy tuna rolls is a great next step. But, first things first. Let’s talk rice.

Sushi is ALL about the rice. If we’re going to make sushi at home we need to start with the basics. How do we make sushi rice at home? It’s a lot easier than you think, and only involves a little more effort than making a plain old pot of rice to go with your everyday dinner. Here’s how you do it:

COOKING RICE FOR SUSHI

Ingredients For Sushi Rice

Method

  1. Place the rice in a large, deep bowl. Cover the rice with water, and mix it around with your hand for 15-20 seconds. Drain the water off the rice, taking care to keep the rice in the bowl. Repeat this rinsing process two more times, for a total of 3 rinses. This rinses the extra starch off the surface of the sushi rice and ensures your rice will cook evenly, and into individual rice grains.
  2. Place the rice in a small pot with 400ml of water and a small piece of kombu. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and cover the pot. Cook the rice for 10 minutes on low heat, or until all of the water is absorbed.
  3. While the rice cooks, mix the vinegar with the sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Stir to ensure the sugar and salt are dissolved and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, turn it out in a bowl or sheet pan (or a traditional wooden sushi rice bowl, or Hangiri), and drizzle the seasoned vinegar over the rice. Stir very gently for about 1 minute to ensure even seasoning. Spread the rice out in the bowl or pan to cool to room temperature.
cooking rice for sushi

Now you have the most important ingredient to make your favourite sushi rolls. This rice is not only great for sushi, it’s also delicious topped with a little kimchi, some scallion, and a fried egg. Maybe drizzle it with a little soy sauce too. That’s a great snack, or a quick meal when you need something filling and easy. 

This is sushi rice demystified. I hope you take the challenge to move sushi out of the “must be bought” category to the “I can make that at home – no worries!” category. You won’t regret it!

Chefs Tip: if you really want to up your sushi rice game, then invest in a rice cooker. Rice cookers are designed to make perfect rice, every time. They can be used for sushi rice, but also for everyday basmati, jasmine, or even brown rice. You’ll love having one of these around. 

David Rice
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