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Sushi Rice

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

Introduction

Good sushi begins with good-quality rice. Choose Japanese-style short-grain rice, which is available from large supermarkets and Asian food stores. The rice is first cooked, then flavored with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and salt. The general rule is the stronger the filling or topping served with it, the more salty and less sweet the vinegar mixture.

Ingredients

    Rice
    1. 1½ cups (10 ounces) Japanese short-grain rice (sushi rice)
    2. 1½ cups water
    3. 1 postcard-size piece of kombu (optional; see Note)
    Seasoning
    1. 4 Tbsp. Japanese rice vinegar (see Note)
    2. 2 Tbsp. sugar
    3. ½ tsp. salt

    Steps

    1. Put the rice in a sieve and submerge the sieve in a large bowl of water. Wash the rice thoroughly and discard the milky water. Keep washing and changing the water until the water runs clear. Drain the water and leave the rice to stand in the sieve for 30 minutes.
    2. If using kombu, make a few cuts in it to help release its flavor as it cooks.
    3. Put the washed rice and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the kombu, if using, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Resist the temptation to lift the lid, and listen for the sound of boiling instead. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes more, lowering the heat if the saucepan boils over.
    4. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Lift the lid and discard the kombu.
    5. Heat the ingredients for the vinegar mixture in a non-aluminum saucepan, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Don't allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and set it aside to cool.
    6. Transfer the cooked rice to a pre-soaked wooden rice tub or salad bowl (the soaking prevents the rice from sticking to the bowl). Pour a little of the vinegar mixture over a spatula into the rice.
    7. Spread the rice evenly in the tub. Slowly add a little more of the vinegar mixture, using a slicing action to coat the grains of rice and separate them.
    8. Fan the rice gently to cool it. Continue to fold the vinegar mixture into the rice with the spatula until it begins to look glossy and has cooled to room temperature.
    9. Cover the rice with a clean damp cloth until needed. Use it on the same day; don't refrigerate it.

    Note

    Culinate editor's notes: Kombu is a type of seaweed used to flavor sushi rice and dashi (Japanese stock). When buying rice vinegar, remember that some varieties are sweeter than others; if you use a sweeter vinegar, you'll need to cut back on the granulated sugar accordingly.