For the sushi-su

  • 120ml rice vinegar or brown rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar seasoning, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

For the rice

  • 450g Japanese rice (3 Japanese cups)
  • 550g/ml water


  • STEP 1

    To make the rice, first wash it thoroughly in a sieve for 2 mins, gently turning it over by hand until the water runs clear. Drain the rice and put it in a pan with 550ml water.

  • STEP 2

    Leave it to stand for a minimum of 30 mins. It can be left overnight, but for best results, leave it for 30 mins-1 hr. Bring the water in the pan to the boil, put the lid on, reduce the heat and simmer for 8-9 mins. Turn the heat off and let it stand with the lid on for a further 5 mins. Do not lift the lid.

  • STEP 3

    While the rice is cooking, to make the sushi-su, put the rice vinegar, sugar and salt into a small container and mix with a spoon until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

  • STEP 4

    Put the rice into a wide flat dish such as a sushi oke, a baking dish or a roasting tray. Pour the sushi-su over the rice and fold it carefully in with a wooden spoon as it cools down, being careful not to damage the grains. You can use a fan or a hairdryer on the coolest setting to speed up the cooling process, directing it at the rice. The sushi-su gives the rice more flavour and that familiar sticky glazed look.

  • STEP 5

    If you don’t want to use the rice immediately, cover it with a damp cloth so that it doesn’t dry out. Leave in a cool place for up to 2 hrs. Do not refrigerate as the fridge will make the rice dry and hard to shape. Once assembled, the sushi can be chilled for a day.

What kind of rice is sushi rice?

Technically, 'sushi rice' is cooked rice flavoured with vinegar and seasoning, not raw rice. The rice used to make sushi is short-grain, but a specific type that has a unique flavour to other short-grained rice and behaves differently when cooked. Look for Japonica rice, cultivated in Japan and Korea – it has a short, rounder grain and a texture that makes it perfect for shaping into sushi.

Sushi rice comes in different types:

  • Koshihikari (a cultivar of Japonica) has a medium grain and sweetish, nutty flavour. It's widely grown in Japan as well as in the US, Italy and Australia, and mostly likely the rice that’s easily available.
  • Hitomebore and akitakomachi are newer cultivars bred from koshihikari.

Much of the sushi rice available in the UK is grown in Italy using traditional Japanese methods. Risotto and paella rice can’t be used for sushi. Though they are also short-grain rice, they are intended for different cooking methods.

Sushi rice is not cheap – some brands and varieties can be very expensive. Try several varieties to find one that you like, then buy a large bag to make it cost-effective. It will keep uncooked in an airtight container for up to a year.

What kind of seasoning can be used for sushi rice?

  • Sushi rice is traditionally seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt. These ingredients are heated together (but not boiled) until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Use about 120ml brown or white Japanese rice vinegar, 3 tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt per 450g rice.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase shop-bought ‘sushi vinegar’, which has already been combined with the sugar and salt. Because you are adding a liquid seasoning to the rice, you need to follow cooking instructions so you don’t end up with wet rice.
  • If you want to use different seasonings, you’ll have to take this into account. You can, for example, use a liquid sweetener, but cut back on the overall quantity of vinegar and sweetener by a little.
  • Impart a more savoury flavour by adding a small sheet of kombu (dried seaweed) to the rice while it cooks, or sub in some quinoa or other grains for rice once you become familiar with the cooking technique.

How do I know when the sushi rice is perfectly cooked?

Sushi rice is cooked using an absorption method, meaning that you'll need to measure both the rice and water and cook it with a lid on for a set amount of time. When this time is up, the rice should have absorbed all of the water. You then need to add the seasoning and cool it down quickly so that any excess moisture evaporates and you are left with tender, sticky rice.

Can I use a rice cooker to make sushi rice?

Rice cookers make very good sushi rice as they cook in an enclosed environment. You do need to make sure you soak the rice first and add the right ratio of water. White rice is generally measured as the same volume of rice to water for the absorption method – sushi rice uses another 10-25 per cent water (see below). Some rice cookers have a specific sushi rice setting, which often factors in a 10-minute soak before the cooking starts, so check the timing on your machine. If there is no sushi rice setting, use the white rice setting.

Tips for making sushi rice

  • Wash sushi rice first to get rid of excess starch
  • Soak sushi rice before cooking it
  • A 180ml measure (rice cookers may come with a cup this size) will help you cook good sushi rice. As a general rule, use one scoop rice with one scoop water plus another 25ml water for two servings of cooked rice (about 330g in total). You can also soak the rice, drain and weigh it. Then, use the same weight in water as the rice
  • Old rice will be drier than new rice, so you may have to adjust the water quantity
  • Different brands of rice may drier than others, so adjust the water quantity if needed – you’ll have to cook a batch of rice to see whether this is necessary
  • Spread the rice out to cool it quickly

Goes well with


Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 2.5 out of 5.9 ratings