Sushi rice is critical to the overall success for creating various rolls. The process for homemade sushi starts with the rice due to its time requirement. You will have to wash, cook, mix in vinegar seasoning, and cool the rice before using it. These steps require ample time to complete.
How Much Rice Do I Cook?
Before cooking the rice, you need to estimate how much is needed per person. I recommend preparing 1 cup of uncooked rice per person. This will produce 2 cups of cooked sushi rice. I use one cup of cooked rice on a full sheet of nori (seaweed) paper. Each person would get two futomaki (full-sized) sushi rolls. If you wanted to make maki, small bite-sized rolls, use half of a nori sheet. I also recommend adding a little extra uncooked rice to your estimated amount. Whenever I make sushi rice, some always gets stuck to the bottom of a pot or spread too thick on a nori sheet.
Preparing Rice for Cooking
Before you can cook the rice, you will need to wash it. I recommend putting the rice in a pasta strainer or bowl that has holes small enough to not let rice through. While rinsing the rice, use your hand to gently move around the grains. This ensures that all of the grains are washed thoroughly. You should continue rinsing the rice until the water running through it turns clear. Once the rice is rinsed, move it to a bowl or into the stainless steel pot of an Instant Pot. Fill the bowl or pot with enough water to submerge the rice. Allow the rice to soak in the water for at least 30 minutes. Next, drain the water and then transfer the rice to a rice cooker or Instant Pot. I recommend avoiding the use of a stove top pot to ensure consistency. Ensure that your cooking device is large enough to cook the amount of rice intended. The rice will expand while cooking. You can prepare multiple batches if your rice cooker or Instant Pot is not large enough for the intended amount of cooked rice.
Cooking the Rice
Once the soaked rice has been transferred to a cooking device, add 1.2 to 1.5 cups of fresh water for each uncooked cup of rice. Your rice bag may have similar directions on it. Once enough water is added, hit the rice option on the rice cooker to start the cooking cycle.
If you are using an Instant Pot, hit the rice setting with low pressure. The machine will run through a 12 minute cycle once the timer appears. When the cooking time is complete, allow the Instant Pot's pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes.
Adding Seasoned Rice Vinegar
When the rice has finished cooking, transfer it preferably to a wooden bowl. If you do not have a wooden bowl, a glass one is an alternative. Measure out an appropriate amount of seasoned rice vinegar to add to the cooked rice. I recommend 1/2 tablespoon for each cup of cooked rice. If you made 10 cups of cooked rice, you would add 5 tablespoons of rice vinegar. This amount can vary depending individual preference.
After measuring the amount of seasoned rice vinegar, you can begin adding it to the rice. Gently stir the rice with a wooden spoon as you slowly pour in the seasoned rice vinegar. Once all of the seasoned rice vinegar has been added, you will notice the rice has a sheen to it. This is completely normal. In addition, the rice will become very sticky after adding the seasoned rice vinegar.
The Cooling Process
The final step to making sushi rice is to let the cooked rice cool to room temperature. The time necessary to cool will vary with the volume of cooked rice. In my experience, this process will take 1-2 hours. You can use a fan on the rice to cool it down faster if time is limited. When the rice has finally cooled to room temperature, it is ready to use for making homemade sushi.
For any home project, you need the right tools for a specific job. Making sushi at home is not much different. It is important to have the appropriate tools for creating beautiful sushi rolls. This article will cover the supplies required for making sushi rolls at home.
Essential Tools You May Already Own
Some of the required instruments for making sushi may already be in your kitchen. If you own any large wooden bowls or utensils, then you are one step in the right direction. Sushi rice gets very sticky after adding rice vinegar to it. The rice is less likely to stick to wood-made products than other materials. I highly recommend using a large wooden bowl and wooden spatula or rice paddle for cooling and seasoning sushi rice. A wooden spoon can be used instead of a spatula, but it is not preferable for spreading rice on a seaweed sheet. Another common tool required for making sushi is a sharp knife. I recommend sharpening a good knife prior to using it for sushi. You need a sharp knife to cut rolls, pieces of fish, and other fillings. You will need a large bowl with water to wash the knife periodically. Any kitchen bowl will work as long as the blade of the knife can be submerged in it.
Essential Tools to Buy
The worst thing that can happen to sushi rice is burning it while cooking. Any burnt rice is not edible. To help avoid this issue, I recommend using an electric rice cooker or Instant Pot. These machines will cook the rice perfectly. If I had to purchase one, I would buy the Instant Pot due to its versatility. While you can cook the rice in a pot on the stove, I would avoid this method. Another essential tool for making sushi is a bamboo mat. This tool is used to create sushi rolls. I recommend buying two of them so another person can help roll. These are inexpensive items available at an oriental market or in a sushi essentials kit.
Inexpensive Sushi Kits to Buy
I recommend purchasing an inexpensive sushi making kit. There are many kits available at multiple price points. Amazon.com has a few affordable kits that have everything you need to get started. You can buy items individually, but I believe these two kits are a great value for less than $10.00:
BambooWorx Sushi Making Kit - $6.99 with two bamboo mats, rice paddle, rice spreader, and five pairs of chopsticks.
Delamu Sushi Making Kit - $9.99 with two bamboo mats, rice paddle, rice spreader, and five pairs of chopsticks. This one also comes with a link to a Beginner's Guide PDF document.
The Essential Tools List
Here is a quick reference list of the tools highlighted:
Making sushi in your own home can be a daunting process. There are many steps in making sushi that require attention to detail, cutlery skills, planning, and timing appropriately. This series of articles is designed to teach anyone how to create a sushi meal for friends and family.
Planning is Critical to Success
The most important lesson I have learned making sushi is how critical planning is to the overall success. The entire process can take three to four hours to complete a sushi roll platter for six individuals. It is important to understand the timeline and order of operations. Even planning what kind of rolls you want to make and how much rice to cook is important. Before I get into too many details, there is a critical step at the beginning of the process. The first step to making great sushi is purchasing the correct ingredients.
What to Buy and Where to Find It
The basic ingredients for making sushi are typically available at your local grocery store. These items consist of seasoned rice vinegar, soy sauce, short-grain rice, soy sauce, and seaweed sheets. You can make your own seasoned rice vinegar at home, but I find it easier to purchase in a bottle. It is very important you purchase the correct kind of rice. Short-grain rice is ideal, but medium-grain will work as well. I always buy the same brand to avoid this issue. For seaweed sheets, I generally use one sheet per roll. If you want to make hand rolls, you will cut a sheet into smaller pieces. Two packs of ten sheets is usually enough. I have seen these ingredients for sale at grocery stores such as Harris Teeter, Kroger, and Bi-Lo. If you are fortunate enough to have a local oriental market, I recommend going there to purchase the necessary ingredients. From my experience, oriental markets offer more selection and lower prices than large grocery stores. Here is a list of the basic ingredients and my favorite brands:
Seasoned Rice Vinegar - Kikkoman.
Soy Sauce - Kikkoman's reduced salt version.
Short-grain Rice - Kokuho Rose's 5 lb. bag of California rice.
Wasabi Paste - Any brand that has wasabi paste pre-made in a tube.
Seaweed Sheets - Any brand with normal sized sheets.
Pickled Ginger: Harder to find at large supermarkets.
Siracha Mayo (optional): Lee Kum Kee. You can make your own mixture too.
Beyond buying the basic ingredients, you need to consider what kind of fillings to put inside your sushi rolls. The staple fillings I always consider buying are imitation crab, cooked shrimp, smoked salmon, cucumbers, cream cheese, and avocados. This will allow you to create California Rolls (imitation crab, cucumber, avocado), Philadelphia Rolls (smoked salmon and cream cheese), and other combinations with cooked seafood. If you are planning to purchase sashimi grade tuna or salmon, I highly recommend visiting a fresh seafood market. Sashimi grade fish is also expensive, so budget accordingly. Typically, I will purchase a combined total of 1.0 to 1.5 pounds of sashimi grade tuna and salmon from a seafood market for six individuals.