Today’s first order of business has seemingly nothing to do with sushi rice. My friends at Nuts.com are offering Fountain Avenue Kitchen readers a choice of four free gifts with purchase. (I receive nothing from this clickable link, by the way–but highly recommend buying the roasted and salted fava beans, which are incredibly addicting!)
Now onto the sushi rice… For many years, rolling my own sushi held no appeal. Sushi was a great excuse to take a night off from cooking and do our small part to support the fabulous local restaurant scene. (Oka is a current sushi fave–feel free to share your hometown hotspot.)
Somewhere along the way, however, I got the itch to try my hand at it. Since I’m a bit of a geek, I always do my research when attempting something new in the recipe world. So I read all about sushi techniques, the history, etc.
Clearly, good sushi starts with the rice. But a funny thing happened as I went through the trial and error of creating the perfect sticky rice. I hit on an entirely new meal. (Stay tuned–the recipe is coming later this week. It’s sushi-inspired, yet easy to pull off on a weeknight, and my family adores it!)
Until I learned to make sushi, I always thought the rice, though sticky, was plain old rice. At first glance, it might seem strange to stir the following vinegar mixture into the cooked rice, but it’s simply a homemade equivalent of the store-bought “seasoned” rice vinegar. Some sushi rice recipes use a lot more vinegar and sugar, but after playing around with various proportions, I found the following ratio offered balanced flavor that doesn’t seem sweet, tangy or salty. It just makes whatever it’s used in taste a little better.
So use this recipe as a starting point for your favorite sushi roll, be it a spicy tuna, California, spider roll, etc.–so many good ones! Or grab yourself a bag of rice, worry not about technique, and make these deconstructed Sushi Roll Bowls! 🙂
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (18 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups (13 ounces*) sushi rice
- 2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
For the seasoned vinegar: Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. (If using table salt, use 1/4 teaspoon less.) Heat in the microwave on high for about 45 seconds. Stir the mixture to fully dissolve the sugar and salt. This step may also be done on the stovetop. In this case, use a small pot and heat just to the boiling point, stirring occasionally, or until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat. The seasoned vinegar may be used right away or cooled and stored at room temperature until ready to use.
For the sticky rice: Place the rice in a medium saucepan or other pot with a tight-fitting lid, and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, and pour off the water. Repeat 2 or 3 times or until the water is mostly clear. The last time, pour everything into a fine mesh strainer and drain the rice well.
Return the rice to the pot along with 2 cups of cool water. Place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once the water begins to boil, stir the rice, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes. (If you don’t have a see-through lid, you may peek very quickly to make sure the water is mostly absorbed, but try not to remove the lid otherwise.) Remove the pot from the heat and let the rice rest, covered, for 10 minutes. (I recommend using a timer for the cooking and the resting.)
Immediately after the rest period, remove the lid and stir in the seasoned vinegar. Fold to thoroughly coat each grain, breaking up any clumps. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi. For sushi bowls, use immediately or at room temperature. (When I do reheat leftover sushi rice, I use the microwave and find it helpful to add a light sprinkle of water and cover the rice with a damp paper towel.)
- *According to most packages, rice weighs in between 6 and 6 1/2 ounces per cup. I have found that this weight translates to a slightly scant cup. This may be why some people have trouble cooking rice: if you unwittingly measure too much rice, there won’t be enough water, and the rice will likely stick to the pot before it’s done cooking. If you don’t have a scale, I recommend filling the measuring cup just below the rim (a “scant” cup).
- If you’d like to make sushi bowls that include nori:
- Toast the nori: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm a sheet of nori until it’s crisp enough to crumble easily, flipping halfway, about 5 minutes. It will turn a brighter shade of green. Alternatively, for a speedier toasting method, you may hold the sheet of nori with tongs and carefully heat it over a gas burner set to low.
- Remove from heat and tear the nori sheet into quarters. Next, directly over the pot of rice and using your hands, crumble each quarter into very small pieces and drop them right into the pot (do this right after cooking, resting, and adding the seasoned vinegar to the rice). Stir the nori into the rice and set the rice aside to cool as directed. Toasted nori adds a subtle, briny flavor to the rice and can also be using as a topping or garnish on the sushi bowls.
The rice is best made fresh and can be served warm or at room temperature, according to preference. If it’s more convenient for you to make the rice the day before, transfer the cooled rice to an airtight container, and before covering, place a wet (but not dripping) paper towel directly on the rice. When ready to eat, place a freshly dampened paper towel over the rice and gently reheat in the microwave. This will prevent the rice from drying out and help maintain the fluffy, just-cooked texture.Look specifically for sushi rice, although short grained varieties may also be used. Sushi rice is widely available at most large grocery stores, or you can use my latest source–Nuts.com. If you’d like to try your hand at rolling sushi at home, you can find nori, wasabi paste, pickled ginger, and anything else you could possibly need there, too.California Sushi Roll Bowls are a fuss-free, completely satisfying way to get your sushi fix!