When many Americans sit down for sushi, they tend to fixate on the fish (and the toppings on the fish). But to ignore the rice is to ignore half the meal. The very best sushi chefs I've ever met in Japan are fastidious about the type of rice they use, when it was harvested, how they rinse it, how long they cook it, what they use to season it and what temperature it is when they serve it. The cumulative effect of all these details is obvious and dramatic.
To me, having perfectly cooked rice is more important than what you use to season it. I keep things pretty simple with sugar, salt and rice vinegar.
- 1½ cups (320 grams) Japanese short-grain rice
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water, using your fingers to agitate the rice, until the water runs almost clear. (Alternatively, place the rice in a pot or bowl, then rinse and drain away the water three times.)
2. Add the rice to a 1½-quart enamel-glazed cast-iron pot (or similarly sized saucepan) and cover with 1½ cups (345 grams) of cold water. Let the rice soak for at least 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
3. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring a few times to prevent the rice from clumping or sticking. Once the water is simmering, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Set a timer for 14 minutes. After 14 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice sit for an additional 5 minutes before uncovering and fluffing it with a spoon or spatula.
4. Place the rice in a bowl. Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a separate bowl and whisk to dissolve solids. Pour the mixture over the hot rice, a little bit at a time, gently turning and mixing the rice with a spoon or rice paddle. Cover the rice with a damp cloth before serving and serve within an hour.