Selecting and Cooking Sushi Rice

Rice Selection:

I like the short-grain rice “Tamaki Gold”, however other short grain rice will also work. Medium grain rice like Kokuho Rose can also be used, although it’s a little harder to form neat, compact-but-not-dense rice for for Nigiri Sushi.

Don’t use “Long Grain Rice”, “Glutinous Rice” or “Sticky Rice.” They’re completely different beasts, and you won’t be happy.

The choice of rice brand is left to your personal preferences. The only thing I will say, is to avoid the small square plastic jar of “Sushi Rice” rice that’s been appearing in supermarkets lately. Although it’s good rice, it’s also about $6 for a little more than a pound, while you can buy the Tamaki Gold for about $1/pound in bags, or Kukoho Rose for even less.

First: About “cups”: If your rice cooker comes with a plastic cup, use that because the water level in it’s pot is calibrated for it.

If you don’t use a rice cooker, you can use whatever cup (Imperial/Metric/etc.) you want, since the amount of rice and amount of water is actually a ratio.


  • Take whatever amount of rice you want to use and put it in a large bowl (large relative to the amount of rice you’re using). 1 US cup (235ml) of uncooked rice makes more than enough cooked rice for 2 people.
  • Fill the bowl with cold water and swish the rice around. Pour the water out of the bowl through a strainer to catch any rice that tries to escape.
  • Repeat until the water is almost clear. This usually takes 4 or 5 changes of water. Don’t cheat! Proper rinsing is the difference between sticky hard-to-work-with rice and well behaved great tasting rice that forms nice nigiri sushi and maki sushi
  • Pour all the rice into the strainer and shake to get out as much water as you can. Let drain for a few minutes.

If you have a rice cooker

  • Add the rice to the cooker
  • Add water to the line indicated for however many cups of uncooked rice you used.
  • Press the “Sushi Rice” button

If you don’t have a rice cooker

  • Put the rice in a heavy bottom pot with a tight-fitting glass lid (no cheating on the pot or lid, or the rice will stick and possibly burn). If you’re using short grain rice, add 1 1/4 cups of water for each cup of rice. If you’re using medium grain rice add 1 cup of water for each cup of rice.
  • Cover the pot and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat until it’s simmering. Watch the rice. When you can no longer see any water, turn the heat off and leave for 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t lift the lid!

Continue here for either method

  • If you’re using a Hangiri (flat-bottom wooden rice-bowl) soak it in cold water for a few minutes, then wipe it dry with a towel.
  • When the rice has finished cooking, immediately dump it into a hangiri (wooden rice tub) or large flat glass dish. Fan the rice with a hand fan or small electric fan (if you don’t care about tradition 8-)) while gently fluffing and separating the grains with a flat wooden spoon (shamoji)
  • As the rice cools, sprinkle a little seasoned vinegar over the rice while gently tossing with the spoon. The idea is to coat and separate all the rice grains, fluff them up and season them. Only add enough vinegar to very lightly coat the rice. If you find you didn’t use enough, you can add more, but if you used too much, you can’t take it out. Taste the rice. It should have a faint sweet/vinegar taste. Continue to fan and fluff until all the grains are seperate and the rice is warm but not hot.
  • Cover with a hot damp towel until you need it.

That’s it!

It sounds complicated, but actually only takes about 15 minutes of actual work, plus cooking time.

You may need to adjust the water or cooking time slightly depending on your results, but I’ve had very good luck with this recipe, and it’s a good starting point.