Recipe: Sushi Rice

I never understood how a restaurant can charge $2.50 for a cup of rice.
At one point of this quarantining life, we started to crave for Japanese everything. Of course, I didn't want to make anything tempura (this is of Portuguese origins, by the way) because of the amount of oil required. So we started with the basics and focused perfecting the "rice". Well, I wouldn't say it's perfect but it's darn-near close to good restaurant-quality rice. Plus, it's just soooo good on anything - sushi, maki, temaki, or served warm with katsu, gyudon, Japanese curry, salmon or chicken teriyaki, and on and on.

We Asian... give us rice and we happy. But give us great tasting rice?! We in rice heaven.

To make RICE easier to understand, you really only have 3 types of rice variations according to grain: (1) long-grain, (2) medium-grain, and (3) short-grain. Of course, there are other ways to differentiate rice (organic, wild, brown, etc, etc.) But in the overall spectrum, the size of the grain will dictate the amount of water/moisture content it requires to cook. This will also dictate the amount of time it requires your tender loving cooking care. Love takes time... just like rice.

Japanese short-grain rice is a precious addition to the world of food. Let's get one thing straight first, there is NO "sticky sushi rice type". Sushi rice is basically flavoured Japanese rice, which is the short-grain variety. This is flavoured with vinegar and sugar to give it that distinct taste and texture. Because it's short-grained, the grains will absorb more water because of its higher starch content. So it will naturally be sticker than the other rice varieties. The Japanese variety is most often known to the western world as Japonica (because it's cultivated in California); this of which is primarily a medium-grain rice. In Japanese cooking, there's the short-grain rice (used for sushi and general rice needs) and the sweet glutinous rice (used to make rice cakes, mochi, etc).

Traditional sushi rice making requires a few traditional equipment.... but I didn't have any of those. Except for my trusted electric rice cooker. There's this traditional round/circular wooden bamboo tub the Japanese use, it's called the sushi oke/hangiri. You may have already seen this. I didn't have this so I used my handy-dandy mixing bowl instead. You'll also need a Japanese paddle fan to cool the rice gently while it's in the tub. Uuummm... didn't have this either. So I took one of the file folders and worked my biceps fanning. 

Sushi Rice
This makes about 5-6 cups of cooked sushi rice. I always make this even if we're not making sushi. So I even serve this warm and eat it with a viand. You can probably make around 8-10 rolls with this.

You'll need your rice cooker, the rice cup that came with it, a rice paddle, a bowl, a tea towel, and a mesh strainer.

3 cups uncooked Japanese short-grain rice
3 cups water (and A LOT more for washing)
1/3 cup sushi vinegar (store bought is fine, but you can make this with the ingredients below*)
   *Sushi Vinegar
   1/3 cup rice vinegar
   3 tbsp sugar
   1 tsp salt

1. Measure the rice on a bowl and wash thoroughly until the water is clear. This takes about 5-6 washers. Once clear, fill the bowl with water and let this sit for 30 minutes.
2. Drain the water and transfer the soaked grains on a sieve/fine mesh colander. Let this dry for 15 minutes (uncovered). Transfer to the rice cooker bowl.
3. Using the same rice cup, fill the bowl with 3 cups of water (or until the number 3 line on the rice cooker scale, you'll see it inside the bowl). Set this to cook and let your rice cooker do all the magic.
4. Once cooked, transfer the rice to another bowl (if you don't have that Japanese bamboo thing). Fluff the rice with sideway strokes, like you're folding a mixture. Fan it while you're folding. Add the sushi vinegar mixture and continue to fold until all the moisture has been soaked up by the cooked rice. Grains should be plump and shiny.
5. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or washcloth.
6. ENJOY however you want!!! You can make rice balls, sushi, maki rolls, WHATEVER YOU WANT! You can even serve this with beef kalbi, anything teriyaki, katsu, and gyudon bowls!

*Don't stop at steamed rice or sushi rice. There are so many things to do with this. Yes, all the variations of sushi, maki, temaki, etc. But you can also make a gohan or chahan (Japanese fried rice). I even used this grain to make Kamameshi rice. Maaaan.... I want one now. 

**This short-grain rice is also used in Korean cooking. So pair this with your favourites or make it into a savoury kimchi Bokkeumbap (fried rice) or a pair with pork bone soup! I'm already drooling and I think my tummy is rebelling. Quite an uproar!

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