Sushi is one of those things like Chess; easy to pick up, yet difficult to be good at… The bit that most people think is the easy bit is making the rice. And really it is, sort of. It’s easy and time consuming. So get your zen on.
With this quick “recipe” you’ll get it right every time. In theory!
First you need the right rice. You must use the right rice, not long grain, basmati, or Uncle Bens… Get short grain “blunt” rice.
Once the correct rice is acquired get yourself a mug and measure out two mugfuls into a pan. Now wash it thoroughly. You need to cleanse the starch away as much as possible. Rinse it thoroughly until the water is almost clear. Do NOT use a metal sieve, you will damage the rice, just use your hands to gently rub it. Once its ‘s clear as you have patience for, remove as much of the water as possible.
Now to add the water for cooking. For every one mug of rice, add about a mug and a quarter of water. If in doubt, do less than a quarter, maybe an eighth. So for the two mugs of rice we’ve just done, add two and a half mugs of water.
Cover the pan, stick it on the hob, heat full blast and wait for it to come to the boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat leaving the lid on and leave for ten minutes. After ten minutes, take off the lid and cover with a tea towel and again leave for ten minutes…
By now the water should be fully absorbed and the rice a nice sticky consistency. I can’t resist having a little bowl with some sweet soya sauce (or Teraki)… After a taste if you find that the rice is still a little “grainy”, add a few tablespoons of water and cover again for a few minutes.
Remove the rice from the pan and lay on a large smooth flat surface. I always use a few chopping boards. Cover the surface with the rice. All we’re doing here is increasing the surface area so that we can cool the rice efficiently. At this stage it’s worth drizzling over a little Sushi vinegar, you can buy this or mix up some sugar, a little rice wine and a mild vinegar. Personally it’s easier to just buy it. The idea is that it makes the rice a little sweeter. Now you need to fold the rice carefully while still warm and with the “vinegar”, use your hands or a non brittle spatula. Spend five to ten minutes doing this.
The last step and the one that will make you feel as mad a hat is the fanning of the rice. Yes… Fan the rice. If you don’t have an authentic Japanese fan to hand (who doesn’t?) use a flimsy chopping board or a magazine. Then gently fan the rice for another five to ten minutes. This process helps remove the moisture while keeping everything moist. Ideally you would do this while you are folding as well in the previous step. This is a tradition. Whether it improves the taste or texture is up to you to decide. It does however definitely put you into the rice zen master class…
When the rice is cool you’re ready to roll (sorry). Chilled rice is the worst so don’t refrigerate unless you have to.
[featured image by quinn.anya]