The two most important ingredients in sushi are the fish you use and the rice you use. The better the fish and rice you use, the better your sushi will taste. If you mess up one of these key aspects, the entire roll could end up tasting funny. Making the perfect sushi rice all starts with buying the right rice, though.
So, how do you go about buying sushi rice? When buying sushi rice, you want to search for short-grain white rice. If possible, try to find Japanese-imported rice that’s specifically designed for making sushi rolls or “sticky rice.” Lastly, make sure you purchase authentic rice, rather than boil-in-a-bag or instant rice.
In today’s post, I’m going to explain how to buy the best sushi rice so that you can make the best sushi rolls. I’ll also explain why you should use this type of rice, where to buy it, and how to calculate how much you’ll need to purchase to make your next sushi dinner. It’s time to go shopping!
Every time I scroll through my Tik Tok feed and see somebody using microwaved instant rice to make sushi rolls with, it makes me cringe. Seconds after they pick up their roll with chopsticks, the rice is falling all over the place, making a huge unsightly mess.
So, before I begin, here’s my PSA: Don’t use cheap instant rice!
Alright, that being said, the type of rice that you should be buying is rice that’s specifically designed for making sushi. Namely, short-grain white rice. While there are varieties from all over the world that could work, Japanese short-grain rice is arguably the best and will result in the stickiest, best-tasting sushi rice.
So, why does the type of rice matter? Why can’t you just use any old white rice? Well, it all has to do with the consistency and texture of the rice. Sushi rice should be very “sticky,” meaning that the grains of rice stick to one another and aren’t falling all over the place making a mess.
In addition to the consistency of the rice, white rice also has a very mild flavor that goes well with just about any type of fish, veggie, or sauce that you use for your sushi.
So, what exactly is “sticky” rice, and what makes it so sticky?
Well, the stickiness of the rice is what helps to hold the sushi roll together and prevents it from falling apart. The sticky consistency is achieved when the grains of rice release soft starches as they’re being cooked. The starches then bind to one another (kind of like mashed potatoes), which holds the rice tightly together.
Short-grain white rice, as I discussed above, has a far higher starch content than medium and long-grain white rice, which means that it will have a far stickier consistency. By the time you finish cooking your sushi rice in your rice cooker, you should be able to make a solid ball of rice that will easily hold itself together. To create a little bit more stickiness, most chefs also add a bit of rice vinegar to the cooked rice, which enhances its flavor and stickiness.
Hopefully, by now, I’ve been able to convey the importance of purchasing the right type of rice to make your sticky sushi rice. Now, you’re probably wondering [where you can buy sushi rice]…
In my experience, the best place to find short-grain Japanese white sushi rice is at your local Asian supermarket. If you walk down the rice aisle, you’ll usually be able to find small to large bags of rice from brands like Nishiki or Tamaki. Just make sure that you double-check the label to ensure that that it’s short-grain rice, not medium-grain or long-grain rice.
I always buy large 10 to 20-pound bags of bulk rice. As long as you keep them sealed up in a sealed plastic container in your pantry, the rice will keep for a long time. This ensures that I’ll never run out.
However, if you’re working with limited storage space, then it might be best to calculate how much rice you’ll need per roll before you go out shopping. Plan on using around 80 to 90 grams (around 3 ounces) worth of cooked rice per roll. So, if you end up cooking 2 cups of white sticky rice, it should make between 4 and 6 sushi rolls, depending on how large you make your rolls.
No matter what meal you’re cooking, it should always start with fresh, high-quality ingredients. By purchasing Japanese-imported short-grain white rice, you’ll be able to cook with the confidence that your sushi rolls will be restaurant-quality by the time you’re finished!