What is considered perfect sushi rice? And how to make the perfect sushi rice? Look no more! This easy to follow recipe is the only recipe you will ever need to make perfect sushi rice.
Mastering the Sushi Rice
In Japan, if you wish to become a master sushi chef, you would have to apprentice under a sushi master for at least 5 -10 years before mastering the craft of sushi. The first few years of apprenticeship usually involves mastering the sushi rice. Sushi rice is the core of how good one’s sushi craftsmanship is in Japan. Anyone can get fresh, quality seafood in Japan as long as you can afford it. But to stand out in Japan as one of the best, it all comes down to how your sushi rice is prepared, cooked, and seasoned. The master chefs all have their own techniques and secrets. But the basic of sushi rice is a fundamental that is shared outside the realm of Japanese master chefs.
While it might take a long time for one to master the sushi rice. I think the time frame to make perfectly good sushi rice is a bit too harsh. I understand the apprenticeship principle in which a master sushi chef passes on his knowledge, experience, and skillset to the student. In exchange the student works for free to learn and master the art craft. Not to be disrespectful to the Japanese culture or bad talk any master chefs, but the only reason I can think of when asked “why does it take 3 years to master how to cook sushi rice?” Is the free labor that the apprentice provides for the master chef restaurant to learn the craft.
I guess it’s kind of like going to school and getting a bachelor degrees after 4 years. But the bargain is that there is no fee, just an exchange of labor and time. It is a perfectly good exchange! But this only works in Japan, since sushi chefs in Japan is revered as a higher standard job. But here in the US, even if you are trained by a master sushi chef, you’ll likely work a bit higher than minimum wage. So it doesn’t make sense for us here in the states. But I am sure it is all worth the time and effort to apprentice under a master sushi chef in Japan.
Sushi Rice Basics
No worries, you won’t have to apprentice under anyone to learn how to make perfect sushi rice. Once you get the hang of making sushi rice a few times, you can actually add your own flare and seasoning to fit you personal profile as well. As traditional as sushi is, the chefs are always innovating new and improve techniques to serve their customers. But first, you need to know the basics. After that, you can do with it as you see fit!
I do recommend you getting yourself a Hangiri. This wooden bowl to mix your sushi rice is a must have when making sushi rice. It will help to suck up all excess moisture and sushi rice vinegar. You can find a small and cheap one here.
What Rice To Use For Sushi Rice
If you are wondering what rice to use for sushi rice, there are a couple options. Depending on what’s your budget and sushi style preference.
Medium grain rice is what most regular sushi restaurant use in the United States. It is grown in California (Cal Rose). The grain is a bit bigger than the traditional Japanese grain, but the bouncy and glutinous level is similar to that of Japanese rice. It is much cheaper than the traditional short grain rice since it is grown in the states.
Short grain rice is what Japan uses. You can find many high standard sushi restaurant use this grain in the United States as well. The grain itself is smaller and plump looking when compared to Jasmine rice or medium grain rice. These small grains are harder to break and remains perfectly plumped and chewy. There are many grades and standards when it comes to Japanese rice. Their standard comes from the region the rice is harvested in and how fresh and clean the water in that region is. This rice is more expensive depending on the time of harvest and import costs.
Since we are not here to learn all there is about rice, I would only recommend you use either medium grain rice if you prefer to eat more sushi rolls, and short grain rice if you prefer to eat more nigiris. I personally like using the short grain because the rice grain remains whole better (not much broken rice). If you are shopping for rice to make sushi rice, I would suggest going to a Japanese market or a Korean market to get your rice.
Sushi Rice Vinegar
Aside from having good rice, you will need to make rice vinegar to season your sushi rice. I think this is the most important factor in flavoring your sushi rice. I use Mizkan brand rice vinegar. There are many different grade and price for this too. Just make sure the ingredient is ONLY rice vinegar and not a premix rice vinegar. Since we are going to use it to mix our own sushi rice vinegar.
You will need to balance the acidity of the rice vinegar with sweetness, saltiness, and umami flavor from dried fish and seaweed. This is a bit hard to get right, depending on your taste preference. Hence this is one big factor in separating good sushi chefs versus great sushi chefs.
How Not To Have Sushi Rice Stick To Your Hand
If you are new to making sushi, the sushi rice will definitely stick to you hand. One way to deal with this fast, is to wear poly gloves (sandwich gloves), and wet it a bit with water or rice vinegar. Theses might be loose and might not fit perfectly on your hands at first, but you can keep them in place by wear rubber bands.
Trust me, theses will keep the rice off for the newbies sushi maker. Sushi chef who works barehand with sushi rice all the time, develops adaptation to the rice. Their hands becomes super smooth from working with oily fish and rice vinegar. Some recommend wetting your hands with rice vinegar will keep the rice from sticking, but base on my experience, this method does not work.