If you’ve ever wanted to roll your own sushi at home but don’t have access to special sushi rice, don’t worry – you can absolutely create delicious homemade sushi with normal rice.
While short-grain Japanese rice is traditionally used, the good news is that medium-grain varieties like Calrose are a perfectly suitable substitute. With a few simple tricks like rinsing away excess starch first and seasoning the rice with a blend of vinegar, sugar and salt, normal rice can be transformed into a tasty base for sushi.
The texture may not be exactly the same as sushi rice, but with the right preparation your homemade rolls will still taste fantastic.
Curious to learn more? Read on as we dive into the details of how to prep normal rice for flawless, homemade sushi.
Choosing the Right Type of Rice
While authentic sushi is made with short-grain Japanese rice, you can still get great results with other rice varieties.
Short-grain Japanese rice, also called Japonica rice, is very starchy which makes it stick together well. This creates the perfect sticky texture for shaping sushi rolls and nigiri.
If you can find real Japanese short-grain rice like Koshihikari or Calrose, it will be closest to the rice used in sushi restaurants. The downside is it can be hard to locate in regular supermarkets.
A widely available substitute is medium-grain rice like Calrose or Arborio rice. The grains are shorter and plumper than long grain, creating a pleasant stickiness. This makes it an ideal choice for homemade sushi.
Long-grain varieties like jasmine and basmati rice have a drier, fluffier texture when cooked. Their length means they won’t bind together to form a cohesive ball of rice.
Unfortunately, this means long-grain rice is not well-suited for shaping sushi. Stick to medium or short varieties for the best results.
Preparing the Rice
Properly preparing the rice is key to creating delicious sushi, even with normal rice. Here are some tips:
Rinsing removes excess starch from the rice’s surface before cooking. This prevents the rice from getting gloppy or mushy.
Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water, swirling the rice with your hand, until the water runs clear.
Cook the rice using the absorption method. Combine rice and water in a pot using a 1:1 ratio. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Avoid lifting the lid during cooking. This allows the rice to steam properly.
After cooking, let the rice rest for 10-15 minutes off heat. This allows the grains to firm up fully and absorb any excess moisture.
Traditional sushi rice has added rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. This gives it a sweet-tangy flavor and sheen.
For every cup of cooked rice, mix in:
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
Fold gently to combine. Fanning the rice can also help it cool faster.
Shaping the Sushi
With properly cooked and seasoned rice, you can shape a variety of sushi creations:
Spread rice thinly onto a nori sheet. Layer with fillings like raw fish, vegetables, or avocado. Roll up tightly using a bamboo mat.
Form rice into a small oval shape. Place a slice of raw fish or other topping on top.
Place fillings on one half of a nori sheet. Tightly roll rice and fillings into a cone shape.
Layer rice, fish, vegetables, and other ingredients attractively in a bowl.
Take your time and don’t overfill rolls. Compactly shaped rice is important for structural integrity.
Troubleshooting Homemade Sushi
Even with white rice, your homemade sushi can turn out perfectly with practice. Here are some common issues and solutions:
Rice Too Soft
- Use less water when cooking the rice
- Skip rinsing to retain starch
- Reduce cooking time to avoid over-softening
Rice Too Firm
- Increase water ratio to 1 1/4 cups per cup of rice
- Cook a few minutes longer
- Rest cooked rice for 15+ minutes
Rice Too Sticky
- Rinse rice thoroughly before cooking
- Avoid overcooking which releases more starch
- Gently fold in seasoning vinegar instead of mixing vigorously
Rice Won’t Stick Together
- Use medium or short grain instead of long
- Increase cooking time slightly
- Season rice while still hot so vinegar can absorb
Rolls Falling Apart
- Compact rice tightly when shaping
- Use less rice and filling for each roll
- Wet blade of knife before slicing to prevent sticking
Ready to Make Sushi at Home?
As you can see, it’s definitely possible to make delicious sushi with normal rice! The keys are choosing a medium or short grain variety, rinsing and cooking the rice properly, and seasoning it well.
With the right techniques, you can craft beautiful sushi rolls, nigiri, and other styles without specialized ingredients. Sushi is a fun, rewarding DIY food project.
Hopefully these tips have inspired you to give homemade sushi a try soon. Just remember – your rolls don’t have to look perfect to taste amazing. So grab some fresh fish and get rolling!