Not all rice is equal. If you want great sushi, you need to buy good quality, specialty sushi rice. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that any old rice will do, because the type of grain does make a difference.
The best place to buy Sushi rice is in an Asian grocery store featuring Japanese products like sushi rice. If you don’t live near one of these Asian markets, Amazon, Walmart and your local grocery store likely have good quality sushi rice available.
Let’s take a close look at how to locate a retailer for your sushi rice purchases.
Where to Buy Sushi Rice
Locating a supply of good quality sushi rice is not as hard as you might think. The worldwide popularity of sushi means that Japonica rice brands are available almost everywhere. And, thanks to Amazon, a supply can even be delivered quickly to your doorstep!
Top-rated brands, like Nishiki Premium, Tamanishiki Super Premium Short Grain and Tamaki Gold California Koshihikari Short Grain are all available on Amazon and in local grocery stores. When you are shopping at your local grocery store in the US, look for rice sold as “Calrose.” In fact, the rice grown in California is now 95% sushi-style rice.
Sushi is an art form, and the precision of the ingredients is central to its quality. Sushi rice provides excellent flavor, nutrition and the all-important stickiness factor that sushi preparation requires. If you’ve ever experimented with Minute Rice and your sushi aspirations in your kitchen at home, you found out quickly that the type of rice you use is critical to success! (Hint: Minute Rice won’t work.)
Sushi rice (technically known as “Japonica rice”) is a short-grained, white rice. Its grains formation is rounded and they do not break into shards easily. Interestingly, Japonica is also behind the production of Japan’s signature alcoholic beverage, sake.
Sushi rice is higher in starch content compared to long-grain rice varieties. This starch component gives it a ‘stickiness factor’ and a clear advantage during the rolling process of sushi making. Sushi rice is not glutinous and is not mushy.
How Much Rice Does America Buy?
Rice is one of the most popular grains in the US. Approximately five million metric tons of rice will be consumed in the US in 2021 (compared to +/- 150 million metric tons in China and eight million tons in Japan).
USA Rice tracks every type of rice grown in the US and features an online directory of rice producers and suppliers. It would seem a bit too zealous to research a sushi rice producer in order to find your local purchase options, but it is interesting to know that there are at least eight suppliers across eleven states who specialize in sushi rice production.
What If I Want to Find an Asian Grocery Store?
There is an amazingly complete online resource available if you want to locate the closest grocery store specializing in Japanese products. We Love Japanese Food features a state-by-state listing of the most popular Japanese grocery stores in the country….and you know when you find Japanese groceries, Japonica rice will be well-stocked.
The History of Sushi Rice
Sushi rice was first used in China almost two thousand years ago. Fishers used rice to preserve their catch for later consumption, and this food preservation technique endured until it migrated to Japan in the 1600s. Originally, the rice was discarded before the fish was consumed, but the Japanese decided to try eating both the fish and the rice…and the cultural practice of eating sushi rice with fish was born.
Sushi rice is quite bland, with only a mild sweetness to it. Unlike Jasmine rice, which has a fragrant aroma and distinct taste, Japonica is at its best with seasonings such as vinegar. Japanese food (and sushi in particular) has become world renowned due to the flavorful combinations of rice, seasoning and vegetables.
Japonica rice has two categories, and it is the uruchimai type which is ideal for sushi. In Japan, the Koshihikari brand is the most popular, partly because it is grown and milled locally. This brand is also available in the US. Japanese experts look for rice picked in the fall and not more than one year old (rice grains become hard over time and don’t soften as nicely in water).
Sushi is one of the USA’s favorite meals. As a popular favorite around the world, finding excellent quality sushi rice for your home-cooking purposes is as close as a click away…or a drive to your city supermarket.