Sushi is one of the most characteristics and popular dishes of Japanese cuisine. Made of raw fish, vegetables, alga sheets and a specific type of rice, it has won the hearts of food lovers all over the world. What are the characteristics of sushi rice and how does it differ from classic rice?

Sushi rice – characteristics

Sushi consists of cooked vinegared rice with eggs, fish, vegetables, mushrooms, seafood or nori seaweed. Restaurants prepare sushi immediately before serving due to its short best before date. Shari is a type of slightly sour rice used by the Japanese to prepare excellent sushi. The rice used for this world-famous Japanese dish differs a little from the classic one. Shari is always made of one type of rice – no mixing is allowed here. The method of preparing shari is also crucial as sushi rice is unlike the rice added for instance to Indian food. Grains of short-grain rice reach a length of approx. 5 mm and they assume a slightly round shape. Due to high amylopectin content, the grains stick to one another easily once cooked, which makes the preparation of sushi much easier.

What type of rice to choose for sushi?

Choosing the right type of rice is crucial for the final effect. Sushi made improperly or using other than recommended rice will never look or taste as good as the one made with shari. Contrary to some opinions, you should not use long-grain rice to make sushi. Instead, you are encouraged to choose the round, short-grain type, so called “milk rice”, as it is much easier too cook and mould into the characteristic sushi shape. Aside from picking the right rice, it is also important to get high-quality rice vinegar, which is indispensable if you want to prepare shari the right way.

How to prepare rice at home?

To properly prepare sushi rice at home, remember about a few basic rules which make this dish unlike any other food, for instance typical of Indian or Chinese cuisine. The proportions should be as follows: add a glass of water plus 1/5 glass per glass of rice. In Japan, they cook rice in special pots intended specifically for that purpose. Cook rice in the traditional pot after rinsing it first in cold water (keep rinsing it until the water becomes clear). Put the rice with water aside for 10 minutes, and then cover it with a lid. Once the water boils, cook the rice for 15 minutes. Afterwards, put the covered rice aside for 10 minutes (without taking the lid off). Put the ready rice to a bowl and add the vinegar seasoning, stirring gently. Before starting to prepare sushi, cool the rice down. Prepare the sushi seasoning while cooking the rice, using the following proportions: 3 spoonful rice vinegar, ½ teaspoonful salt, and 2 teaspoonfuls sugar per glass of dry rice. Blend the ingredients until the salt and sugar dissolve. The seasoning can be simmered (not boiled) and then cooled down. Remember that the proportion of ingredients is a matter of individuals taste – whoever prepares sushi should develop their own system (e.g. more sugar, more salt etc.) to match their culinary preferences.

Basic mistakes

The most common mistake regarding sushi preparation is choosing the wrong ingredients. Long-grain or dark rice or a combination of rice types makes the process much harder, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of the taste and final effect. Other mistakes include skipping the rice rinsing stage, failing to cool it down once cooked, adding salt to water or stirring while cooking, cooking without a lid, skipping the stage of seasoning the rice once cooked or too long cooking. However, if you follow the basic sushi preparations rules, well selected and properly cooked rice is bound to meet your expectations.

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