Preparing sushi rice for the first time is a bit like riding a bike; at first everything seems disorderly and clumsy, but over time you will develop a distinct grace when performing the steps. Sushi rolls must be made only with Japanese rice, which is marketed specifically for making nigiri and other Tokyo-style fast food favorites.
This type of rice is marketed widely throughout the world so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it. We suggest that you buy only a small quantity at first if this is your first time.
Now Japanese rice, as with all kinds of rice, must be washed with clean water prior to cooking. Use your hands to swirl the grains of Japanese rice back and forth to release the fine powder on the surface of the grains.
This fine powder will turn your water cloudy. When the water is cloudy, simply drain and fill the container again. Do this a few more times until the cloudiness dissipates significantly. You need to wash the rice before cooking to make the individual grains shiny, which vastly improves the appearance of the finished product.
The standard water-to-rice ratio is 1:1, although it will not hurt if you add a quarter cup more water before cooking. Sometimes aged Japanese rice requires more water than newly harvested batches. Since we cannot know for certain when a bag of rice was actually harvested, adding a bit of extra water is your safeguard so that the rice will become fluffy enough for sushi.
Ideal sushi rice has adhesive grains that are perfect for regular sushi rolls and inside-out rolls as well. If you don’t know how to cook rice the traditional way (fire and pot), use a rice cooker as it is very easy to burn, undercook, or overcook rice without one.
Cooked Japanese rice requires a cooling container. In Japan, people use a wooden container called the hangiri. The hangiri is made from strips of bamboo and is the perfect vessel for cooling rice. Place your cooked Japanese rice in your hangiri and use a wooden spatula to turn it while fanning.
Fanning speeds up the cooling process and also removes excess water from the rice grains. If you want to do things the authentic Japanese way, try using a hand fan or an uchiwa to cool down the rice while turning it.
In the absence of an uchiwa, or if you simply do not have the luxury of time, use a small electric fan to cool down the rice. Remember to turn the rice by folding it upon itself using a wooden or plastic spatula. This way, all of the Japanese rice will be sufficiently cooled by the time you are ready to make your sushi rolls.
When cooking Japanese rice for sushi, you may also want to add additional seasonings to make the rice more flavorful. Ingredients such as salt, dashi, and wine vinegar are also added to rice to integrate a unique aroma and taste to the grains.