Rice is an integral part of Japanese culture and a daily staple consumed by millions in this birthplace of one of the most popular dishes in the world: sushi.
Though not the most exciting part of sushi, rice is perhaps the most essential part. And if you wish to master the art of sushi making, you need to learn the basics of rice.
The first thing you need to understand is that not all types of rice are the same. You may think that rice is rice, right? But no, that is not the case.
If you are looking to prepare a particular rice-centric dish such as sushi, you need to be mindful of the type of rice you choose and how you cook it.
Sushi rice is made using Japanese short-grain rice, which is then seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
That being said, can you use jasmine rice for sushi? No, if you wish to make authentic Japanese sushi, jasmine rice may not be the best choice. Jasmine rice is long-grain rice and doesn’t contain enough starch to hold it together into a sushi roll.
Read on to find out more about why you shouldn’t use jasmine rice for sushi, how to make the best sushi rice at home, and much more.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Jasmine Rice For Sushi
It is safe to say that sushi is only as good as the rice it is made with. The type of rice you use and the way you prepare it can be what separate great sushi from average, or even bad sushi.
Some standout features of good sushi rice are that it retains its original shape yet sticks together without being mushy, is both tender and firm, and is well-seasoned for a sweet, sour, and salty sushi roll.
Short-grain rice, such as Japanese rice, tends to be starchier allowing the grains to stick together when making sushi rolls.
Jasmine rice, on the other hand, is a type of long-grain rice that has a dry fluffy texture and grains that won’t stick to each other – both features that are a definite no for sushi.
A few other popular examples of long-grain rice include Mexican rice, traditional American long-grain white or brown rice, and basmati rice.
Jasmine rice is easily recognizable by its length and cylindrical shape and is one of the most commonly used varieties, especially in the West, which is probably why some people may be inclined towards using it for making sushi rolls.
Though it may be a good choice for other dishes, its fluffiness and inability to stick together make it a bad choice for sushi.
Jasmine rice won’t give you the right texture, nor the authentic taste, for making traditional Japanese sushi. It will be much drier, will lack the required stickiness, and you will simply not be able to enjoy your sushi as you should.
To experience the authentic intended flavor of Japanese sushi, you must only use short-grain Japanese rice. It is very different from any type of long-grain rice and has a unique stickiness which is perfect for making the yummiest sushi!
What Type Of Rice Can You Use For Sushi?
If you wish to go the traditional and most authentic route, you must opt for short-grain Japanese rice for making sushi, also known as sushi rice, that is seasoned with vinegar, sugar, and salt for a perfectly balanced flavor.
However, if your sushi cravings are kicking in and you can’t get your hands on some short-grain Japanese rice, don’t worry, there are other good substitutes you can try!
Before we talk more about this, we feel the need to reiterate that authentic sushi is only made using Japanese short-grain rice, and although you can try other varieties, it will taste different.
So, moving on, we recommend using short-grain or medium-grain rice for making sushi, and avoiding any long-grain rice, such as jasmine or basmati rice, since it just won’t stick and make your sushi roll fall apart.
Short-grain rice has a higher level of amylopectin, which is a starchy molecule responsible for making rice sticky.
Most varieties of short-grain rice, such as short-grain brown rice, contain this starchy compound, which makes them a good substitute for sushi rice.
You can try using arborio rice, which is usually used for making risotto and is creamy and sticky – both features that are great for ensuring your sushi rolls stay in one place.
If you cannot find some good quality short-grain rice, you can make your sushi using certain medium-grain varieties as well, such as Calrose rice.
Calrose rice is ideal for dishes such as sushi, soups, and salads since it becomes slightly soft and sticky, has a mild flavor, and can absorb bold ingredients with ease.
It was actually cultivated in California around the 1950s as a Western variety of authentic rice and an excellent substitute for Japanese sushi rice. It is widely used in many restaurants and is easily available everywhere.
Another variety of medium-grain rice that you can use for sushi is Italian vialone, which is quite similar to Japanese rice.
How To Make The Best Sushi Rice
Sushi rice is the foundation of good sushi and countless other delicious dishes including onigiri, poké bowls, hand rolls, and more.
To make the best sushi rice, you need a few things:
- Short-grain Japanese sushi rice
- Rice vinegar
The first step is to wash the rice thoroughly under cold running water to remove any residue of bran and extra starch that might still be on the rice.
For the best results, we recommend soaking the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking it.
This little step allows the rice to rehydrate and prevents any textural problems that might arise when dry rice is immediately boiled.
Once the rice is soaked and ready, cook it with water, making sure to use a little less water than you would normally use for that much rice. This prevents it from getting mushy when you mix the rice with vinegar seasoning.
You may either use a rice cooker to make the process even easier or simply prepare the rice in a saucepan or instant pot on a stovetop.
Simultaneously, combine some rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it is all dissolved. You do not need to cook it or bring it to a boil.
When the rice is cooked, pour the sushi vinegar mixture over it and spread it out so that the excess moisture is evaporated.
Make sure to do this step in a utensil or container with as much surface area as possible since it won’t only prevent the rice from absorbing too much liquid and getting soggy but will also give it a nice glossy finish.
Now that you know how to make the best sushi rice and whether jasmine rice is a good option or not, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!
Is Japanese rice the same as sticky rice?
In some Western countries, particularly in the US, you will often hear people referring to Japanese rice as “sticky rice” due to its sticky texture.
Since “sticky rice” is not a type of rice but a casual term used to describe the texture of rice that is sticky, it can have different connotations in different cultural contexts.
While in the US, the term “sticky rice” is often used in place of sushi rice, in the majority of Asian cultures, it is usually used to refer to glutinous or sweet rice.
How long does sushi rice last?
When uncooked, sushi rice can last a long time if kept in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. Though it does not expire, it does have a best before date.
Once it is cooked, you can store it in an airtight box in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Alternatively, you can store individual portions in freezer-safe bags and freeze them safely for up to 6 months.
However, if the cooked rice has been seasoned, it must be used immediately. If you store it in the fridge, it will become dry, and if you freeze it, it will become too soft when defrosted to make sushi rolls.
Why do you need vinegar for sushi rice?
The word “sushi” comes from the word “su-me-shi” where “su” means vinegar and “shi” means rice. Therefore, vinegar is an essential part of the dish, without which it wouldn’t be considered traditional Japanese sushi.
Sushi vinegar is made by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, which is then added to the freshly prepared rice for a refreshing flavor that is a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty.
If you can’t find rice vinegar, you may use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or lemon or lime juice instead.
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