Classic Japanese Sushi Rice

Classic Japanese sushi rice

​The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
380 Calories
1g Fat
84g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 380
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 7mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 84g 30%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 7g
Calcium 29mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

To make sushi you need sushi rice, which is short-grained rice seasoned with vinegar and sugar. It's important that it be made properly so you end up with flavorful rice that will hold together well. The rice must be rinsed, drained, soaked, and then steamed before being sprinkled with the vinegar-sugar mixture.

It is best to use short- or medium-grain rice to make sushi rice; it’s more starchy and round than the long-grain variety, which just won’t hold together well enough to support ingredients in sushi. Many stores now sell varieties labeled "sushi rice."

Since there might be differences in strength and flavor between various brands of rice vinegar, or if you prefer your sushi rice less seasoned, prepare the amount of seasoning in the recipe but only use half of it. Mix it with the rice and taste before deciding if you want to add more.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Japanese rice
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sake-mash vinegar (or white-wine vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sushi rice
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Put the rice in a large bowl and rinse it by covering it with cold running water and gently mixing it around using your hand. Carefully pour out the water and repeat rinsing until the water becomes almost clear. 

    Put rice in bowl
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside for 30 minutes.

    Drain rice
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Place the rice in a rice cooker and add the water. Let the rice soak in the water for at least 30 minutes.

    Rice
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Start the cooker and set it according to your cooker's instructions. When the rice is cooked, let it steam for about 15 minutes.

    Start cooker
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Prepare the sushi vinegar by mixing the rice vinegar, sake-mash vinegar (if using), sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Put the pan over low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.

    Prepare
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. Spread the hot steamed rice onto a large plate or in a large bowl.

    Rice
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  8. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and quickly fold the rice with a shamoji (rice spatula) or wooden spatula. Be careful not to smash the rice.

    Spoon rice
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  9. To cool and remove the moisture of the rice, waft a hand-held paper fan over the sushi rice as you mix it. This will give the sushi rice a shiny look.

    Waft fan
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  10. It's best to use the sushi rice right away to make rolls with your favorite fillings.

    Eat sushi
    ​The Spruce / Cara Cormack 

What Type of Rice Should I Use?

As sushi has become popular, so have the ingredients to make your own at home. That means that many grocery stores will carry rice called "sushi rice," which can also be purchased online. If you can't find it, however, you should look for short-grained or medium-grained rice; long-grained, as well as jasmine or basmati, will not work when making sushi rice. Japanese rice has a higher moisture content which makes it sticky and gives it a particular texture that lends itself to making sushi.

Tip

It's best to use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke when mixing the rice with the seasoning. If you don't have one, use a non-metallic bowl to prevent any interaction with rice vinegar.

Why Is Sushi Rice Seasoned?

The word "sushi" actually refers to the rice and not the fish (the Japanese word for raw fish is "sashimi") and translates to something like "sour taste." Raw fish was once preserved in fermented rice but then the Japanese changed to using vinegar rice to extend the fish's shelf life. It was realized that the fish tasted good with the seasoned rice and the combination became what we know today as sushi.