How to Make Sushi Rice Without Fail

I think that learning how to make sushi rice could seem difficult for a non Japanese person. But if you have the right sushi rice you can make great sushi whether you're making sushi rolls, nigiri, or inari sushi.

As a Japanese person, I respect the sushi chefs and their high level of expertise in sushi making, but also know that the freshest ingredients are an important element in making great sushi.  

how to make sushi rice

Have you tried to make sushi rice and haven’t got it right yet? Don’t worry even many Japanese don’t to know how to make sushi rice from scratch.

If you think that making sushi rolls is difficult, I can tell you, it’s not. There are challenges to making good sushi rolls but it is fun to make your own. Making the sushi rice is boring, but it is very important. It is the foundation of any quality sushi that you will create.  

Common Mistakes - Why your sushi rice is not perfect

  • using different, wrong rice
  • rice cooked too soft or too firm, hard
  • seasoned vinegar mixing into cold rice
  • smashing rice when mixing seasoned vinegar 
  • using rice straight from the fridge 

Take some care in making your sushi rice 

Sushi rice is delicate and it takes a little care to make sushi rice that is perfect.  What do you need to consider for creating the best sushi rice?

  • Rice that has been cooked perfectly 
  • Use white short or medium grain ----- Japanese rice is short grain and slightly sticky when it is cooked. Long grain rice is drier and doesn't stick and is not suited to making sushi.
  • Balance of vinegar mixture is right ---- sushi vinegar in balance and well seasoned but no over powering. Sushi rice flavour supports fish and other ingredients.
  • Mixing rice with the correct motion ----don’t want to make it gluey 
  • Cool the rice quickly

Sushi Rice Recipe

Cook  2 cups of short grain white rice first. You can buy already prepared sushi vinegar (sushi seasoning) which is flavoured with sugar, salt and dashi. If you want to make your own sushi seasoning it is easy and only needs a few ingredients..

  • 40ml rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoon  sugar
  • 1/2 tea spoon  salt

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan. Warm up using low heat until the sugar dissolves.  (You can use a microwave for about 1 minute to dissolve the sugar. But try not to boil). Cool the vinegar mixture.

*Tip: To spot the difference sushi vinegar is golden colour and rice vinegar is clear.

Step- by -step guide -- how to make sushi rice 

1.Spread the hot steamed rice out evenly into a large bottom flat container. It’s best to use wooden bowl called “sushi-oke”. 

*Tip: Please use a non-metallic bowl. 

2. Pour the vinegar mixture over while rice is hot use wooden spatula. When rice is hot it will absorb the  flavour of the vinegar but if it is cold it can’t.  

*Tip: Try to use 2/3rd of the vinegar mixture first. (Can be quite different depend on what type of vinegar you use) 

3.   Mix vinegar with the rice ---- Using spatula or wooden spoon, gently but quickly combine the rice and vinegar. Continue to turn over the rice using a slicing motion. Repeat folding, don’t mash the rice.

*Tip: Keep dipping spatula in water to remove the starch build up, hence this makes slicing easier.

 4. Cool it down quickly --- when mixing rice and vinegar together use a fan to cool the rice that remove moisture.  You can use an electric or hand fan. It’s very important to cool the rice fast as it helps the excess liquid evaporate quickly. This mixing action gives each grain a taste of vinegar and the sushi rice a shiny look.  

*Tip: The more you mix with the spatula the more possibility that you will mash up the sushi rice. I’ll show you an easy solution that I found.  

5. Spread the rice out in a container and cover with a damp tea towel until you’re ready to use it.

When Your Sushi Rice is Ready to Use

When the surface is no longer wet then the rice is ready to use. It is still warm, but not hot. The best time to use sushi rice is right away, therefore plan to make your sushi rice just before making sushi roll. Desired sushi conditions are when your sushi rice is at room temperature but fish and vegetable are cold.

*Tip: If the rice is cold, just warm it up little (not hot) in microwave so that it is easier to move rice around to make sushi roll or nigiri.     

I think now you realise that how to make sushi rice perfectly is important in making delicious sushi. You put time, money and effort in to make sushi that all come down to sushi rice’s quality. 

I wish you all the best in making and eating delicious sushi!

My Story- cooling down the rice without smashing it

When I had a Japanese restaurant we had to buy a “Sushi-oke” but I couldn’t get the right size before opening. They were all a bit small or too large. I decided to pick a large one which was almost the size of an infant plastic pool size (about 80cm diameter).

It was made beautifully and had a great craftsman finish to the wood.   I fell in love with the “sushi-oke” But the problem was it was so big it was impossible to store such a large sushi-oke in a small kitchen. In the end we hung it off the ceiling! Having to hang it up, grab it down and washing the sushi-oke was not easy though. But when the restaurant started to make lots of rolled sushi it was handy. The rice could mix with the sushi vinegar carefully and quickly which is what we most needed for good sushi rice. 

Hot rice spread in this large sushi-oke only needed a couple of folds and then it cooled itself because of its large surface area. It cooled down easily and quickly without using a fan. This little pool size of sushi-oke unexpectedly saved us lots of time for many years.  

The mistake of buying a super-sized sushi-oke gave me an easy method for making sushi rice.   

My smart sushi rice making method is:

Mixe the rice and vinegar use a container with a lot of surface area so you can spread the rice out widely. If you don’t have large container, divide sushi rice to 2-3 wide containers to cool quickly. You can make perfect sushi rice.  

I hope you found value in this detailed method of how to make sushi rice.

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