Seshi is the Japanese word used to describe the short-grained rice used in making sushi. This rice is prepared distinctively differently from the more common long-grained rice most of us are familiar with. The grains are much shorter and rounder than regular long grained rice and will be sticky when cooked properly. Long-grained rice will not stick together and the roll will fall apart. In the picture, the long grained rice is on the left, short-grained rice on the right. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Here is the recipe for how to make sushi rice, using Japanese short-grained rice. This should make enough rice to roll 4 full maki rolls or quite a few piece of nigiri sushi.Ingredients:
2 cups rice
3 tablespoons white rice vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Rinse the Rice
The first step in making sushi rice is to rinse the rice. The rice should be placed in a strainer and then had water run over it. Continue running water over the rice until the runoff water ceases to be murky and grey and instead is clear and clean. This step is very important and I highly urge you not to skip rinsing the rice by trying to be speedy. Nothing will spoil good sushi like dirty starchy rice. Once the rice is rinsed, pour it into the pot you will be cooking it in. Fill the pot with water to a level just slightly higher than the level of the rice. Let the rice sit in the water for about 30 minutes.
Prepare the Seasoning
Sushi rice must be treated with sushi vinegar. You can prepare this seasoning while the rice is soaking. Sushi vinegar is made with rice vinegar, sugar and table salt. You can find rice vinegar in an Asian supermarket like I did, or a well-stocked grocery store. Put the vinegar in a small saucepan and pour the sugar and salt into it. Heat the vinegar mix until the sugar and salt have almost entirely dissolved. Don’t let the mixture boil As soon as the salt and sugar have dissolved, remove the mixture from heat.
Cooking the Rice
Once the rice has been allowed to sit, you may turn on the heat. Turn the heat up to a high flame. Bring the pot to a boil while stirring every few minutes to prevent any of the rice from sticking. Once the rice begins boiling, turn down the heat and cover the pot. From this point on, you will not touch the rice. The rice is cooking by steaming, not boiling, so do not remove the cover. You need to wait for the water to disappear. This takes, from personal experience, around 8 minutes. You’re allowed to take a little peek to see if the water has disappeared and if it has, immediately remove the rice from heat.
Removing the Rice
Removing the rice actually needs a section because there’s a very specific way to remove sushi rice from the pot. You should use a wooden spoon to prevent damage to the rice as you remove it. Also, try to pull it out into a wooden bowl if possible. Glass also works, and plastic is acceptable, but never metal (more on this later). Make sure you aren’t crushing any of the rice grains as you pull out the rice, you should really just be pulling it forward and letting gravity pull it out of the pot. If any rice is stuck on or burnt, leave it. You don’t want any bit of overcooked rice in the sushi.
Seasoning the Rice
When the rice is out of the pot and cooling, it’s time to season it. This is where the wooden bowl is important. If you put the rice in a metal bowl and apply the vinegar seasoning, there’s a chance the vinegar will react negatively with the metal and cause a very unpleasant taste to permeate the sushi. You should lightly drizzle the seasoning over the rice while carefully cutting the seasoning in with a wooden spoon. Again, you aren’t stirring the seasoning into the rice. You should be almost chopping your spoon horizontally through the rice to ensure that the seasoning covers every individual grain of rice .Once the seasoning is totally applied, set the rice aside and let it cool. The rice must be at room temperature to be usable. It helps if you spread the rice out so it can cool quicker. Some sushi chefs like to fan the rice to cool it even quicker. Once the rice has cooled, it is ready for use.