Learn how to make delicious sushi rice with this easy to follow tutorial, and impress your guests at the next sushi party!

Sushi rice in hangiri with rice paddle

What is Sushi Rice?

Sushi rice, or sushi meshi (in Japanese), is cooked short grain Japanese rice that has been dressed in a vinegar seasoning. The rice is used for dishes such as nigirizushi (nigiri sushi), chirashizushi (chirashi sushi), and inarizushi (inari sushi).

What Kind of Rice to Use for Sushi Rice

To make sushi rice you will need short grain Japanese rice called koshihikari (越光).

Koshihikari rice is considered to be a premium product which makes it more expensive to buy than other types of white rice. The grains are short and fat and clump well because of their stickiness.

You can find koshihikari rice in Japanese supermarkets or sold from certain online grocers. Most Asian grocery stores only carry medium grain rice from brands such as Kokuho Rose and Nishiki. While the rice is still good quality, it’s not what you want for sushi.

The brand I always use is Tamanishiki (it comes in a yellow bag). I used to buy it at Sunrise Mart in New York City but haven’t been able to find it since our move to the midwest. Luckily, I have been able to get it on Amazon.

Japanese short grain rice

Washing and Soaking Japanese Rice

When making Japanese rice, you must wash the grains first before steaming it. This is to remove excess starch (detach the rice bran from the outer hull) so the rice doesn’t get overly sticky and mushy.

White rice is Japan’s staple food so it’s very important to follow the steps to preparing it to ensure that the texture is just right. Japanese people will judge a dinner based on the quality of the rice and the same goes for sushi rice – the texture of the rice is just as important as the freshness of the fish sitting on top of it.

The traditional way to wash rice is by placing the rice in a bowl and adding enough water so that the rice is covered. Place one hand in the bowl and mix the rice in a swirling motion. Swish at a constant pace and very gently rub the grains together a few times. Pour the water out, refill the bowl and repeat this step 3-4 times, until the water runs clear, or almost clear.

Another way to wash rice is to do it with a rice washing bowl like the one I’m using in the pictures. The concept is the same except that you don’t have to constantly fill and drain the bowl. The rice washing bowl is great because it has tiny holes at the bottom of it and automatically drains the water as you polish the rice.

Soaking the rice is also an important step as it helps the grain absorb moisture and cook evenly. If you are cooking Japanese rice in a pot, soak the rice for about 30 minutes before cooking it. If you are using a rice cooker, soaking is pre-programmed in the cooking process so you just have to place the rice in the inner pot, close the lid, and press start.

Japanese rice rinsing

Rice Cooker Cup vs Regular Measuring Cup

Every rice cooker comes with its own measuring cup.

While a standard US cup equals 240ml, a rice cooker cup equals 180ml. Why is that? The rice cooker cup is based on the daily serving of a rice typically consumed by a Japanese adult. So when you make rice in a rice cooker it’s imperative that you use the cup it came with otherwise the measurement of water to rice will be off.

An easy way to store your rice cooker cup so it won’t get lost is to keep it in your bag of rice. That’s where I keep my rice cooker cup and I’ve never lost it.

how to season sushi rice

Ingredients for Sushi Rice

  • Japanese short grain rice (koshihikari): Two cups of rice (make sure to use the measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker) will yield about 4 cups, cooked.
  • Water: Look at your rice cooker inner pot and fill it just under the 2 cup line. Your inner pot may have a ‘sushi rice’ measurement (mine doesn’t), if it does you can use that.
  • Sushi rice seasoning: A mixture of plain rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and kombu dashi.

Tools Needed

sushi oke with rice paddle

How to Make Sushi Rice

  1. Start by washing the rice. Place the rice in a rice washing bowl and rinse the rice under cold running water. Swish the rice around a few times until the water runs clear. Drain and put the rice in the rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice washing bowl, put the rice in a medium size bowl and enough water to cover the rice. Swish the rice around and tilt the bowl to drain as much water as you can (don’t use a strainer yet as some of the rice grains may fall through the holes during the rinsing process). Refill the bowl and repeat until the water runs clear, or almost clear. Put the rice in a strainer to drain all the water and add it the rice cooker.
  2. Add water to just under the 2 cup line. Close the lid and press start.
  3. Make your sushi rice seasoning by combining the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and kombu dashi. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.
  4. Brush the rice mixing tub (sushi oke) with a little vinegar or water. This is to prevent the rice from sticking to the tub.
  5. Fill a cup with tepid water and place your rice paddle in it (this will keep the rice from sticking to the paddle).
  6. Add the rice to the tub and use the paddle to spread it. Pour the sushi rice seasoning over the rice and gently fold. Slice and fold the rice a few times until the rice is evenly coated with the seasoning.
  7. Your sushi rice is ready to eat! Use it within an hour and keep it covered with a kitchen towel to prevent it from drying. Enjoy!
how to make sushi rice

What to Make with Sushi Rice

Now that you have you a tub of freshly made sushi rice, it’s time to use it to make something delicious!

When it comes to making sushi at home, I like to stick to the simple and easy stuff. I leave the nigiri sushi (nigirizushi) to the sushi chefs since I don’t have access to high quality, sushi grade fish.

Here are some of my favorite sushi recipes that use sushi rice:

sushi rice how to make sushi rice

Did you like this tutorial on How to Make Sushi Rice? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

Print

How to Make Sushi Rice

Learn how to make delicious sushi rice with this easy to follow tutorial.

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Rice cooker
  • Cuisine: Japanese
  • Diet: Gluten Free
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups short grain Japanese rice – you must use the measuring cup that comes with your rice cooker as the measurements are a little different than a regular measuring cup.
  • Water

Sushi Rice Seasoning

  • 1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon kombu dashi, or kombucha powder

Tools needed:

  • Rice washing bowl or strainer
  • Rice cooker
  • Rice paddle
  • Sushi oke

Instructions

  1. Put the rice in a rice washing bowl and run cold water over it. Rinse the rice using your hand, in a swirling motion. Keep doing this until the water runs clear and drain. If you don’t have a rice washing bowl, put the rice in a medium size bowl and pour a little water in it. Wash the rice in a swirling motion to remove the excess starch and pour as much of the water out (don’t use the strainer yet). Repeat this step until the water runs clear and strain the rice through a sieve to drain all the water.
  2. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker and add just enough water that it’s just under the 2 cup line. Close the lid and press start. If you are cooking Japanese rice on the stove, please follow the instructions from the post how to make Japanese rice.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the sushi rice seasoning in a bowl. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.
  4. Fill a cup with tepid water and place your rice paddle in it. This is to prevent the rice from sticking to the rice paddle.
  5. Brush the sushi oke with a little water or rice vinegar to prevent the rice from sticking and add the rice. Alternatively, you can also use a glass or plastic bowl.
  6. Spread the rice with the rice paddle and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Gently fold and slice the rice (do not mix as this will make the rice mushy!) a few times until the vinegar mixture is evenly distributed and the rice is warm but cool enough to handle.
  7. Cover with a kitchen towel to prevent the rice from drying. Use within an hour.

Notes

How to store sushi rice: Let the sushi rice cool down to room temperature and transfer it to an airtight storage container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.

Keywords: nigirizushi, makizushi

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