Did you know that the term sushi refers to the rice, and not the fish at all? In Japan, getting that sushi rice right is seen as the highest art.
The best, most perfect in-season fish is a matter of connections and deep pockets, but the rice is an art. Ordinary nigiri is such a pale imitation of the highest grade good stuff it’s like chef boyardee vs fresh handmade pasta from a really good Italian restaurant.
While the fish could concievably be the same quality, the sushi rice, even in Japan, can run the gamut from poorly-machine-made conveyor belt sushi (pictured below) to so crazy good they could just put some grass on top and it would taste good – one of Steph’s favorites.
But, getting the taste of sushi rice right is not nearly as hard as shaping it properly. Unless you live in a major sushi city (or Japan) it’ll make for way better sushi than most anything you’ll find locally. You will instantly upgrade your homemade sushi with this simple recipe.
What is sushi rice
Sushi rice is Japanese short grain rice seasoned with salt, vinegar, and sugar to form the base for nigiri, maki, and all other kinds of sushi.
At some sushi places in Japan, they often tune the rice to the specific fish – that is, they have more than one batch of sushi rice with different seasonings depending on the fish you’re being served.
Why is this the best sushi rice recipe
This recipe is by Masaharu Morimoto, aka Iron Chef Morimoto. He’s a super nice guy who downplays his sushi accomplishments but is definitely the real deal. For me this is the best sushi rice recipe because it’s the one that tastes closest to the best stuff we’ve had in Japan.
- Make the rice. You can either use a rice cooker or Instant Pot to get perfect rice, or use my usual 27 minute stovetop method which has never failed me: 1.25 cups water to 1 cup of rice, bring to a boil, cover tightly with a lid and reduce the heat to the lowest it goes. After 17 minutes, remove from heat but leave the cover on. After another 10 minutes take off the lid and continue with the steps below.
- Make the seasoning. While the rice is cooking, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan and warm over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Season the rice. When the rice is done cooking, transfer to a very large bowl. Sprinkle on half of the vinegar mixture and use a rice paddle or silicone spatula to gently mix the vinegar into the rice with a slicing motion. The idea is not to break a single grain of rice.
- Cool the rice. If you have a fan, or even a clean magazine, fan the rice for a few minutes while you gently toss it to help it absorb the sweet and sour vinegary goodness. You want it to be easily cool enough to handle. Definitely cool enough not to cook any raw fish you put on top.
- Enjoy! Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more if needed. Cover with a damp towel until ready to use.