Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sushi Rice

Class this week is simple sushi. Sushi is about the rice, spiked with a little bit of rice vinegar,  sugar, and salt. It's important to use a rice that says "sushi rice" on the bag. Some common brands are Calrose,  Kokuho Rose, or Nishiki. Sushi rice has enough soluble starch to stick together. No one wants a hand roll that self-destructs before you get it to your mouth. It's also important to rinse sushi rice well because it is coated in starch when packaged, but this starch is supposed to be removed before cooking.

You can buy sushi vinegar - rice vinegar premixed with sugar and salt. But, you can easily make your own. I have discovered sushi vinegar is easier to find in supermarkets than natural rice vinegar - the vinegar without the salt and sugar - so don't fret too much if you have to use the premixed variety. There is also lots of variation in the proportion of vinegar, sugar, and salt to rice in homemade recipes. This recipe is a proportion that I found tasty but it isn't the only way to mix it. It's more tart than sweet and not very salty.

The rice is cooked, then the sushi vinegar is sprinkled over the hot rice and mixed so that every grain is coated with vinegar. This also cools down the rice. To speed the cooling, you can fan the rice. If you are coordinated, you can mix while you fan but it works if you alternate mixing with fanning. Or you can enlist a friend to fan while you mix. Sushi is a great dish for a party, after all, so get your friends to help you.

You want the rice to be at room temperature when you roll it up. You can make it a few hours ahead but don't refrigerate it. It will get too hard and crunchy if it's cold.

Sushi Rice
(makes about 3 cups of rice)

1 cup raw sushi rice
1 ¼ cup water
¼ cup sushi vinegar

Rinse the sushi rice well with cold water until the water runs clear. Let the rice sit for 30 minutes. Place the rice in a medium saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring gently until it boils. Once the water reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Gently spoon into a large bowl (wood is traditional, but plastic or glass will do) and sprinkle on frac12; of the vinegar. Gently mix and fan until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the rest of the vinegar, and continue to mix and fan until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooled to room temperature. If you aren't ready to roll the sushi , you can cover the rice with a damp towel (to keep it from drying out) and let it sit at room temperature for up to 3 hours.

Sushi Vinegar
(makes 1 cup)
1 cup natural rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt

Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until sugar and salt dissolve. Let cool before using. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for about 1 month.

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