Is sushi your go-to food? Learn what is the best sushi rice and what possible alternatives you can use to satisfy your cravings!
What is the Best Rice for Sushi?
Ah, sushi! Almost everyone loves sushi but not of all us know what kind of rice is being used in making this delightful dish. Short-grained polished white rice is the best rice for sushi or also known as the Japanese rice (a cultivar of Japonica rice).
You may also use medium-grained California rice if the former is not available and you will still achieve that perfect sticky, compact, and seasoned sushi rice. But, don’t get confused with the Japanese rice being sold at the supermarkets labelled, sushi rice.
Sushi means, seasoned steamed rice so even if you are buying rice packed as sushi rice, you have to carefully check if it has been seasoned or vinegared or not yet. Short-grained Japanese rice is used because it has that unique flavour, stickiness, and consistency as compared to other Japanese rice such as long and medium-grained.
Sticky rice is also far from sushi rice in case you are planning to use it as an alternative. 😉
3 Best Sushi Rice Varieties
Now that we are clear with what sushi rice really means, let take a look at the different kinds of sushi rice and other alternatives we can use. There are three perfect kinds of Japanese rice popularly used for making sushi rice; these are Koshihikari, Akitakomachi and Sasanishiki.
Growing rice is a serious business in Japan. If you stroll around, you will really see how rice greatly influenced their cultire, beliefs, and even religion.
All Japanese rice varieties are good. Sushi rice is another specialization in rice culture that there are distinct rice types that can only be considered.
Among the three best varieties, it seems that Koshihikari variety is the favoured rice cultivated in Japan and very well-regarded.
It was quite difficult to find this type of rice outside but the good thing, there are now cultivations in the US and Australia to meet the increasing demand.
This rice brand comes from Akita, nevertheless.
Its taste is also distinct and different from the first variety we mentioned.
Akitakomachi boasts of its aroma, strong flavour and natural sweetness. Almost every district in Japam has its own rice variety or rice which are grown and harvested in their localities.
The taste, texture, and aroma may differ depending on where the rice came from. Akitakomachi has full of moisture that it glistens when light strikes and even tastier even when cold. 😀
Another notable rice type is Sasanishiki which is a hybrid of Hatsunishiki and Sasashigure.
What makes this rice special and popular is its unique feature to keep the same taste even when cooled.
It is also soft and not as sticky as other Japanese rice.
Alternatives to Sushi Rice
If these three types of sushi rice are not available, don’t be sad, there are still alternatives you can use on your favourite sushi dish!
CalRose or California rice
It is a medium-grain rice type, famous for being a variety of Californian rice.
You can instantly see this variety readily available at the groceries.
Its grains hold the flavour so well, and are soft and tends to stick together, making it a popular sushi substitute.
You probably did not expect this but I found a healthier alternative to rice in making sushi and that is quinoa. Quinoa has a high protein content and a high-fibre alternative to rice.
There are different varieties of quinoa you can use, red, black, and white. Making sushi with quinoa is the same, except you don’t have the rice, although it might not be that sticky compared to rice.
Yes! Finally, vegans can also enjoy the best of sushi with the help of cauliflower. You can use cauliflower rice as a healthy and nutritious alternative to rice in making sushi.
At first glance, you wouldn’t realize it was cauliflower in your sushi!
Now you have a great and better alternative in case you crave for some sushi.
How to Make Sushi Rice
Sushi-meshi, sumeshi or sushi is made up of white, short-grain Japanese rice seasoned with sugar, rice vinegar, and salt. Seasoning your rice is simple and can be made at home anytime.
Check out these easy steps on how to make your own version of sushi rice!
- Prepare your rice by washing and rinsing it until the water becomes clear and free of starch. After several washes, soak the rice in water for about 30 minutes to achieve the best texture. Drain after.
- Cook the rice in your most preferred method. A rice cooker is better especially when you do have modern versions such as any Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker. It already has a sushi cooking setting which makes the job easier. Add the correct water ratio and the dashi kombu. Let it cook.
- Make your sushi seasoning while waiting for the rice to be cooked. You can use a ready-made sushi rice vinegar or you can simply combine: rice vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small pan and allow it to boil over medium-high heat. Whisk the sugar until it completely dissolves. Cook for about a minute or you may use a microwave.
- When your rice is cooked, transfer it to a wooden tub and let it cool a bit. Don’t forget to moisten the bottom part with water to avoid rice from sticking. When the rice is warm (or just the right temp you can manage), pour in the seasoning.
- Use a rice spatula to spread the rice evenly or divide it into parts to let the seasoning penetrate into the rice. At this point, you may want to use a fan to cool the rice and make it shiny. 🙂
- Cover the rice with a damp towel or a paper towel. Get the other sushi ingredients and start rolling!
We may think sushi rice can be just any ordinary rice with all the seasoning, however, if we really love to know and experience the real thing, there are special types of rice just for making this delicious food.
In fact, history can tell us how the Japanese really put time, effort, and honour in making such a dish. I hope you learned some great sushi rice varieties as well as alternatives to sushi rice in any case you may not find available rice at your local stores.
You can also try making some healthier versions with cauliflower and quinoa. 😉