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November 25, 2016

Cooking Sushi Rice, A Masterclass in Rice

By Stuart Turner

You may have noticed that I have a slight obsession with perfect sushi rice but it is so important to get it right.

Perfect fluffy and sticky rice is the main ingredient to delicious sushi- get it right and you can shape it into a million different sushi rolls or nigiri; get it wrong and you might be picking it out of your teeth for weeks or watching your sushi disintegrate in your hands. 

A couple of weeks ago I was singing the praises of a rice cooker which is the favoured cooking method of the Japanese (and they know their rice). However, for all you purists out there it will come as no surprise to learn that you need a few more tools to get the job right.

First things first, pop your rice and water in your rice cooker as per the instructions and leave it for 10-15 minutes to fluff up perfectly. Once it is done, the next step is cooling which is just as important as cooking. The Japanese use a Hangiri Bowl which is a traditional wooden bowl. It has a flat bottom and is usually about 30cm wide, though ones used in restaurants can be as big as a metre wide.

Once your rice is in the Hangiri you need to mix in the dressing. I have given you a recipe for this before but can be as simple as sushi vinegar and rice seasoning which comes in lots of varieties. How the dressing is mixed in is also important. Rather than stirring, the correct method is to slice through the rice using cutting motions with a flat bamboo paddle known as a shamoji.

Finally cover the rice with a a cloth (fukin as it's known in Japanese or teatowel as it's known in my kitchen) and leave it to cool right down. Now you can shape it into any type of sushi you want - gunkanmaki (warship sushi), maki rolls, nigiri - all you need now is some nori seaweed, wasabi, pickles and the topping of your choice.

Follow these simple steps and your rice will be perfect everytime and you can roll, ball, stick and mould in minutes.

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