This is the recipe I use for the rice cooker (Zojirushi NS-LAC05). It is a work (of over 5yrs) in progress. Methods are transferable to any cooking style.
Tezu: Cleaning Solution for Hands & Knife
- 1 cup of warm water
- 2 tbsp of rice vinegar
- 1 tsp of salt
- Mix together until salt dissolves and set aside
- Dampen a towel with it, it will clean your hands, knife and anything you do not want the rice to stick to. Wetting your hands for handling cooked rice to make sushi is standard practice.
Rice Cooker Ingredients
- 3 cups (my rice-cooker’s measuring cup ~175ml) short-grain white rice
- Seasoned Water (aka Dashi) to fill to water Level 3 for sushi rice
- Use ~2 Tbs Sake
- Water used should have ~10cm kombu soaked in it for at least 4hrs, then remove kombu
Seasoning: Prepare Separately
- 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
You can either heat this up in a small pan, or microwave in a bowl. It just needs to be hot enough to dissolve all the ingredients and mixed together. Do not boil.
Rice Cooker Directions
- Measure rice accurately and place in a bowl with tap water. Using your hand, gently, but vigorously agitate the rice until the water becomes cloudy. Empty cloudy water, refill the bowl and repeat the process until the water is clear. Then empty rice into a sieve and run under water to make sure all residual dust is clear. Set the rice and sieve aside to drain/dry for 30 to 60 minutes.
- In the rice-cooker bowl, pour in the sake, then the rice, and add the kombu water by filling up to the water-scale marked “3” for “Sushi Rice and start the cooker on its Sushi setting.
- When rice completes cooking, place the rice into a hangiri (or large, wide, non-metallic shallow dish).
- Slowly pour the Seasoning mixture over the back of the rice paddle evenly over the rice and mix using a gentle cut and fold technique.
- The vinegar seasoning must be mixed while the rice is hot.
- As you are folding in the vinegar mixture, fan the rice briskly with a hand or electric fan. Continue fanning and mixing until the rice has cooled to body temperature and appears glossy. Body-temp rice is considered ideal for serving.
Notes & Recommendations
- If you just want plain Japanese rice, you can omit the Tezu and Seasoning steps; just serve the rice rice out of the cooker for whatever meal you want.
- Rice: Nishiki is the most common rice found in chain-grocery stores. This is the absolute baseline. If you can find Tamaki Gold (in an Asian store or online), get it. It’s about the best rice you can buy in the US. Alternative: Koshihikari
- Rice Cooker: there is a very good reason (several, actually) why over 1.5 billion people in East Asia alone, use them. Buy one and thank me later. They are much more versatile than you might think (all rices/mixes) and are flawless: every, single, fucking, time and with zero waste.
- Brand recommendation: any Zojirushi model with Micom aka ‘fuzzy logic’. Most 25+ seat Japanese restaurants use these. I hear Tiger and Panasonic make decent cookers, too. 3-cup models are plenty for a family of four.
- Sake: please do NOT use Gekkeikan. I know you can find it everywhere, but it is bottom of the barrel rocket-fuel. You need to use something that you would serve guests – Otokoyama, Koji, TyKu, Zen, etc. TyKu is excellent (and my personal stand-by) and quite easy to find. Junmai or Junmai Ginjo grades work well, don’t use Junmai Daiginjo, it isn’t meant to be heated (and costs ~$100\bottle).
- Bowl: if sushi is something you will be making more than once a month, I would highly recommend a proper Japanese-made Hangiri (aka Sushi-Oki), they are typically made out of Cypress or Birchwood and bound by real copper rings. Don’t go cheap on this, the type of wood matters.
- Learning: books and videos are great but nothing beats sitting at a bar and closely watching a full-fledged Itamae work. Buy them a drink, ask questions, rinse and repeat.
- Basic Types of Sushi:
- Nigiri: neta/fish, laid over a shari/rice ball. Most refined/formal version (ironically, started as fast-food), also known as Edomae Sushi. Difficulty 5/5
- Temaki: self-serve hand rolls. Difficulty 1/5
- Norimaki: the roll most are familiar with, requires sushi mat. Difficulty 3/5
- Gunkan: good for Ingredients that like to spill over. Difficulty 2/5
- Oshizuzhi: the oldest form of sushi, made using an ‘oshibako’ mold. Cypress wood or plastic is recommended. Difficulty 2/5
Personal Notes & Context
One of these days I’m gonna figure your shit out, Watanabe-San (aka: The Happy Sushi Gnome of Haru Ichiban, O.G. Shokunin and old-school sushi badass that retired and fucked-off back to Osaka) I miss you more than most of my family members.NOTE: I think I figured out the secret ingredient, you sly bastard — Try dried squid in dashi, or fresh squid in the rice cooker!
Sushi literally means ‘sticky vinegar rice’, and its importance to the meal it refers to cannot be overstated. Those who train to be Itamae (“in front of the board”) spend no less than two years learning to prepare sushi rice before they are even considered for cutting fish. They’ll spend the next 8 years working to achieve the title of Itamae and a lifetime pursuing Shokunin 職人 (artisan), most never reaching that level.