Home Cuisines Japanese What’s The Best Rice For Sushi?

What’s The Best Rice For Sushi?

Woman with sushi roll standing next to different types of rice

If you’re looking for the freshest sushi on offer, then making it at home is your best option. It’s a quick and easy way to put food on the table, but you’ll need to use the right type of rice if you want it to taste like it’s been made by a sushi chef.

In this guide, we’ll explain what rice is best for sushi. You’ll also get lots of handy tips to help make the perfect sushi rice.

What rice should I use for sushi making?

To make authentic sushi you’ll need Japanese short-grain rice that is cooked with kombu, then seasoned with sugar, salt, and rice vinegar. When you shop for rice, Koshihikari and Tamanishiki will be your best choices, but they aren’t always easy to find. Calrose is an easy-to-find medium-grain option that also makes great sushi.

1. Japanese rice

Japanese rice, or Japonica rice, is a popular short-grain variety that has a sticky texture, perfect for sushi making. It is also used for producing sake and many other culinary recipes.

Koshihikari: a high-quality rice strain that is very popular in Japan but is also more expensive.
Tamanishiki: a premium rice that’s ideal for making sushi and easier to find in the United States than Koshihikari. Also known as Tamaki Gold.
Uruchimai: a type of ordinary Japanese rice that is excellent for making rice balls and sushi.
Nishiki: an affordable medium-grain rice that makes acceptable sushi that is easiest to buy online.
Mochigome: extremely glutinous, chewy, and sticky. Instead of using it for sushi, make sweet snacks like cakes, Cherry Blossom mochi, Ohagi, or Sekihan.

2. Calrose rice

Calrose rice is your next best option if you can’t find Japanese rice in your area. This is a mild-flavored, medium-grain rice that’s easy to find in supermarkets through the United States, Australia, and the U.K. It has been cultivated in California since 1950 and is now widely used in Japanese restaurants in America.

3. Brown Rice

Although brown rice isn’t traditionally used to make sushi, it will work if you’re in a pinch. People looking for a healthier option may also want to opt for this variety. Compared to white rice, you’ll find brown rice has more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while also having a lower glycemic index (source).

However, brown rice won’t create sushi rolls like regular ones bought from a sushi bar. The rice isn’t as soft and sticky as Japanese rice so expect a much different end result.

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Tips for making sushi rice

  • Prep thoroughly before cooking: Rinse the grains a few times before cooking to remove all the starch. A 30-minute soaking will result in a much-improved texture.
  • Add kombu: A piece of kombu added to the pot or rice cooker will provide a subtle umami flavor and fragrance.
  • Be quick to add the vinegar: When it comes time to pour vinegar into the cooked rice, do it immediately once it’s ready, still piping hot. This will result in delicious, shiny-looking rice.
  • Cool the grains fast: As the vinegar gets added, cool the rice as fast as possible by directing a fan at it. Transferring the rice to a tray or large bowl will also help cool it quickly.
  • Cut, don’t squish: When mixing in the vinegar, avoid squishing it in as you’ll end up with mushy rice. Instead, use a rice paddle and slice it in.
  • Select the right variety: Try to find short-grain rice that’s meant for sushi so that it’s moist and sticky with a chewy bite.
  • Use a damp towel: Once the rice is mixed and ready to use, keep it covered with a damp cloth on the kitchen bench until it’s time to start rolling.
  • Use less water: When cooking the rice, use a little less as you’ll be adding sushi vinegar after it’s cooked.

How much rice do I need to make sushi?

Number of sushi rollsRice (cups)Water (cups)Vinegar (Tbsp)Sugar (Tbsp)Salt (tsp)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is jasmine rice the same as sushi rice?

Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety that has an enticing aroma. Although it is a moist and plump variety, the grains are much longer than sushi rice and they don’t stick together in clumps. Jasmine rice is not ideal for sushi making as it will usually fall apart, even after rolling.

Be sure to also check out how Jasmine rice compares to basmati rice.

What makes sushi rice sticky?

Sushi rice is sticky as it contains high levels of starch and moisture.

Is regular white rice suitable for sushi making?

You’ll find that regular medium grain or long-grain white rice doesn’t work well in sushi. They don’t have a moist texture and getting the rice to stick together is a challenge.

Where can I buy sushi rice?

Authentic sushi rice can be purchased from Japanese grocers or the Asian aisle at supermarkets. If you can’t find any proper sushi rice where you live, then there are plenty of online retailers stocking this product.

Is sushi rice the same as arborio rice?

Sushi and arborio rice are both short-grain varieties that are of similar shape and size. However, arborio remains firm (al dente) when cooked, while sushi rice softens.

Why does sushi rice need vinegar?

Vinegar is an essential element when making sushi. It adds flavor, maintains freshness, and makes the grains sticky.

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Did you know? Sushi rice is also called sushi-meshi, su-meshi, or shari in Japan.

Summing up

When it comes to making sushi, choosing the best rice is an important consideration. Regular medium or long grain varieties won’t taste the same and their grains will fall apart. You’ll end up frustrated and hungry.

Instead, choose good-quality Japanese rice like Koshihikari, Tamanishiki, or Uruchimai. If you’re struggling to find them, try using Calrose rice which is easy to find outside of Japan. It’s a delicious rice that’s used by many Japanese restaurants in the United States.

Brown rice is an okay option if you’re looking for a healthier type of rice to make maki rolls.