How to Cook Rice Like a Sushi Chef

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Hungry for sushi, but want to make it at home? Here’s your recipe, via Quirk Books’ delicious book, Stuff Every Sushi Lover Should Know.

How to Cook Rice Like a Sushi Chef. From Stuff Every Sushi Lover Should Know

Traditional sushi chefs spend years practicing and perfecting the art of making sushi rice. It’s a simple process that takes time to master in order to create the right balance of consistency, texture, and flavor. Following is a basic recipe. Over time, you may want to customize the ingredients to create your own signature sushi rice. Always start with short-grain white rice specifically labeled as “sushi rice,” and for best results use a rice cooker, rather than a pot on the stove.

This recipe yields about 4 cups cooked rice, enough for 9 naki rolls or about 24 pieces of nigiri.

3 cups uncooked short- grain sushi rice 
3 cups water, plus more for rinsing rice 
½ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fine salt

1.  Wash the rice: A proper cleaning ensures that your rice is not sticky or smelly. Place the sushi rice in a large bowl and fill with enough cold water to cover rice by one inch. Swirl your fingers in the water in a circular motion; the water will turn cloudy. Drain the water through a strainer and repeat the washing process as many times as necessary until the water is barely cloudy when you swirl it. A good rule of thumb is to wash once for each cup of rice you are using.

2. Cook the rice: Pour the washed rice and 3 cups of fresh water into the rice cooker. Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Prepare the seasoning mixture: Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cool. (Note: With time, you may want to add more or less vinegar to make the rice sweeter.)

4. Spread the rice: While the rice is still hot, transfer it to a large sheet pan and spread it into an even layer.

5. Season the rice: Sprinkle the vinegar mixture a little at a time over the rice, using a spoon and drizzling in alternating horizontal and vertical motions. Don’t pour all the liquid at once because it will cause the rice to clump; try to distribute it evenly. When done properly, the rice will be sticky, shiny, and slightly cooled. Use the sushi rice right away in your favorite recipe.

How to Cook Rice Like a Sushi Chef. From Stuff Every Sushi Lover Should Know

TIP: Different brands of rice vinegar have varying strengths of flavor. If you are concerned about overseasoning your rice, set aside half of the vinegar mixture. Sprinkle the rest over your rice, and then taste it. Continue adding the mixture until you achieve the desired intensity. Avoid “seasoned” rice vinegar for this recipe, which already has sugar added. Using unseasoned allows you to control the sweetness of your rice. 

How to Cook Rice Like a Sushi Chef. From Stuff Every Sushi Lover Should Know

Excerpted from Stuff Every Sushi Lover Should Know by Marc Luber and Brett Cohen. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books -- thank you!