The Perfect Sushi Rice with Silla Bjerrum
This recipe makes about 900 grams of sushi rice, enough for 3 hungry adults or modestly feed 4 people. This amount of sushi rice will make 8-10 sushi rolls or 40 nigiri (or combination of the 2).
500 grams sushi rice
520 ml. water
1 cm dried konbu
60 ml sushi vinegar
I highly recommend a small rice cooker for cooking sushi rice as it gives a good even cook. The common household version hold up to 800 grams of uncooked rice. Alternatively use a small saucepan with a well fitting lid.
Here goes for cooking 500 grams raw sushi rice and do as follow: add sushi rice to a large mixing bowl and fill with 1 liter of water. Now polish the rice by grabbing a handful in each hand and gently rub against one another, using the palms of your hands. Drop rice back in the bowl, give the mixture a quick twirl with your hands and then repeat as before total 10 times. When the water is rich with starch and milky white its time to rinse the rice.
Place a sieve over another mixing bowl and transfer the rice to the sieve, then rinse with 1 – 1.5 liter of water to wash of the starch from the grains. This can also be done under a ‘gentle’ running tab, run for a few seconds watching below the sieve whilst the starch being washed of the grains – that is when the water is running clear. Leave the rice to rest for at least 30 minutes. Washed rice will last to the next day if kept in airtight container in the fridge. For the surplus starchy water a recommended secondary used would be adding to a soothing bath or watering of herbs and flowers.
I cook sushi rice in 1:1 with 5-7% additional water and small piece of konbu. For 500 grams of washed rice add 520 ml. water, the washed rice will be slightly moist as it retained some of the moisture from the washing, taking that into considerations the 520ml. of water will suffice. The real pro sushi masters of Japan will use a rice-barometer to measure the moisture of the rice as it varies from sort, ages and harvest, this is indeed a very exact science. Konbu, or kelp, is seaweed and the original natural flavor enhancer commonly used in Japanese food. The konbu help tenderise the rice for a slightly beyond al dente cook of the grains and brings out the ‘riceness’ of the rice whilst adding natural saltiness too. The salt from the konbu and the salt in the sushi vinegar will be plenty to season the rice, so no need to add salt here. Konbu is available form Asian stores or online.
Sushi vinegar is rice vinegar mixed with white sugar, salt and konbu extract. This is what makes the sushi rice sticky, the loosely steamed rice with a full absorption of the water and then bound together by the sushi vinegar. I recommend to buy a ready blend of sushi vinegar as a homemade recipes is a balancing act, it must hit the exact mix of acidity, sweetness and umami which can be challenging for a novice sushi master. Trusted sushi vinegar brands would be Mitzkan or Clearsping. In terms of how much sushi vinegar for rice ratio, general rule of thumb is using 60 ml. sushi vinegar per 500 grams uncooked rice. Place rice in cooking pan, add water and place konbu on top. I repeat here to use a rice cooker is highly recommendable or use a wide saucepan with a well-fitting lid, bring rice to just boiling point and then let simmer for 12 minutes and rest for 10 minutes in the pot. Cooking in rice cooker set up rice the same, turn on red and leave in the cooker on amber for 5 minutes when the dial is switching.
Decant the rice into a shallow plastic tray and leave to ‘steam of’ for a few minutes letting the temperature drop from in the 90s to below 70s Celsius. Then mix in ready blended sushi vinegar by drizzling it across the full surface of rice and then ‘cut in’ the vinegar with a wide spatula cutting across the rice with diagonal movement for 5 minutes to ensure all grains of rice get a coating of the vinegar. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes to below 30 Celsius, covered with a damp tea towel and use within 2 hours for best eating experience.