View Full Version : sushi rice - 'lil help

12-28-2012, 06:03 PM
I can't make sushi rice to save mas ass. I need help.

I thought it may be the brand I've been using - Lundberg organic short grain sushi rice - but that ain't it. I just bought another brand at an Asian market - a short grain white rice f/ Cali - and the results were the same. I no problems at all with any other type of rice - brown, white, black, wild, long grain, short grain, basmati, etc. I like to use short grain white rice - sushi rice - as a side dish. I don't season the rice as per sushi.

I get gloppy, overly sticky stuck together goo with hard centers.

Here's what I do....

put 2 cups of dry rice in a pot, run filtered water over and rub between my hands until the water is milky. Drain. Repeat 2-3 times, until the water is clear-ish.

Add 3 +/- cups filtered water. I usually use the one finger knuckle as a final measure, but I generally use about 1-1/2 cups water to 1 cup rice.

Put on burner. Put burner on high. Bring to boil.

Stir gently to loosen rice and make sure none is sticking to bottom of pan.

Turn burner to low - until water (that's left) just barely bubbles. Cover. Simmer. 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed.

Turn off burner. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Gloppy rice.

I'm thinking a couple of things;
1) I'm not rinsing the rice enough and there's too much starch when I cook it
2) stirring it after it boils agitates the rice and produces too much starch
3) I'm boiling too long

The really funny thing is the GF made the Lundberg rice once a couple weeks ago (and she canít really cook). She followed the directions on the packages and it came out very nicely. Go figure.

Any thoughts? Much appreciated - Cheers! mpp

Salty dog
12-28-2012, 06:28 PM
Electric rice cookers work real nice.

I have a rule. Unless it's risotto I don't stir the rice and I rarely remove the cover.

12-28-2012, 06:47 PM
I toast the rice in the pan a bit then add the water, and when the first tiny bubbles appear I cover and turn to low for 20 minutes. It always seems to come out fine!

12-28-2012, 07:20 PM
Don't over wash the rice, and do it gently. the rice breaks easy and that might be 1 reason.

Depends on the weather. if raining i use less water. but i go for 0.8dl for 1L of cali sushi rice.

Rice cooker will give you the best result but if cooking on gas then,

cover, Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to the lowest. sometimes gas stoves are still high at the lowest. i remember my mom using tin cans covers under the bot to lower the heat.

Leave it to cook for 15 mins covered. Don't uncover at any point.
let it rest for 10 mins.

You should get a very good cooked rice :)

Sorry for my messy English and hopefully that will help :)

12-28-2012, 07:33 PM
On Sushi rice I don't rinse or stir. Are you cooling the rice after it just finishes absorbing water and adding your vinegar or just letting it steam in the pan with the lid on?

12-28-2012, 07:47 PM
I have a rule. Unless it's risotto I don't stir the rice and I rarely remove the cover.

that's the same rule my father taught me when i was a child, and it has always seemed to work out well for me.

12-28-2012, 08:10 PM
Electric rice cookers work real nice.

I have a rule. Unless it's risotto I don't stir the rice and I rarely remove the cover.

:plus1: Rules to live by.

mr drinky
12-28-2012, 09:08 PM
Yeah, +1 for the rice cooker. I use the recipe out of The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Rice-Cooker-Cookbook-Porridges/dp/1558326677).


12-28-2012, 09:51 PM
When I came over from the dark side of Boil N Bag and Uncle Bens Perverted Rice years ago, I was told the same thing about putting the lid on, turning the heat down and not touching for the entire cooking time. Works for me.

Pensacola Tiger
12-28-2012, 10:03 PM

1 1/2 c. rice
3 tbsp. melted butter or vegetable oil
3 1/2 c. boiling water
1/4 c. chopped parsley, optional
2 tbsp. dried minced onion, optional
Combine rice, butter (or oil) and parsley and onion (if desired) in a buttered 2 quart casserole. Pour boiling water over, stir with a fork and cover. Bake for 40 minutes in oven at 350 degrees.

12-28-2012, 10:51 PM
For sushi rice, I rinse several times, stir the rice into boiling water. It's enough water to cover the rice plus a bit more (maybe 30% more by volume). I keep the heat high and stir until it is all boiling and then I turn to whatever the lowest setting is that keeps it barely boiling. After about 25 min, I uncover and taste it. If the center is still too hard, I let it sit a while longer. Eventually, the center gets soft. If your rice comes out too gloppy, I would reduce the amount of water. If the centers are hard, I would let it sit hot longer.

12-28-2012, 11:14 PM
Rinse till clear, 1 to 1 ratio of rice to water in the cooker. Cook for 20 minutes then rest still covered for 10. The rice to su ratio is about 10 to 1. Use a wooden bowl and spoon, pour the su over the back of the spoon and slice into the rice as if you are cutting it. In front of a fan helps. This is perfect rice. Ask me about the su recipe next.

12-29-2012, 02:13 AM
it sounds like you might not be cooling the rice properly. you should "cut" the rice and fan it to cool it quickly while adding your kombu/vinegar or whatever you plan to finish it with. very important step

12-29-2012, 02:48 AM
I don't think you washed the rice enough. If the water is still milky, that usually means that there's still extra stuff (starch, residual rice powder, etc.). I rinse my rice until the water runs clear.

If you feel like the center isn't cooked through, after you drain the rice, let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. It will help the rice absorb water and penetrate deeper so it's not so hard.

As far as cooking it on the stove, I haven't done this in years but I would recommend just leaving it alone - mixing short grain or medium grain rice will release more starch and cause it to get really gummy.

I agree with not removing the cover and letting the rice sit covered off of the burner when done is really critical. That's, IMHO, is the last final key step to cooking the rice all the way through.

I know non-stick is generally considered a faux pas, but for rice, it's invaluable. If you cook rice often, I also would recommend getting an inexpensive rice cooker.

12-29-2012, 03:15 PM
Thanks for all of the feedback, guys.

I'm not getting a rice cooker - my stupid builder-spec kitchen has so little storage and counter space that I can't deal with another appliance. Plus, like I said before, I have no trouble cooking any other type of rice in a pot on the stove top.

I'm not even getting to the seasoning step - I've never made sushi myself, not have I seasoned rice for this application. I just love sushi rice as a side dish, and use it as we westerners would use any other type of rice.

I couple of additions/clarifications;

I add a pinch of sea salt and a slight drizzle of olive oil to the pot before it starts to boil. Would either of these cause a problem? I've tried it without salt or oil, and doesn't seem to make much a difference.

I only stir the rice briefly once it starts to boil. Then I put the lid on, lower the temp to just above the lowest setting, and do not remove the lid. Well, hang on that's not quite true... I usually lift the lid after 15 minutes or so to see what's going on, especially if I'm in experiment mode. Sometimes I'll taste the rice at this stage to evaluate doneness, or prod it gently to see if there's water left in the bottom of the pot. I'll add a bit more water if needed. Usually if I go this route, it's a recipe for gloppy rice with under done centers. Never a problem with any other type of rice tho...

I always let the rice sit in the pot off heat for 10 +/- minutes.

I think my main problem is not rinsing the rice enough.

12-29-2012, 03:58 PM
Electric rice cookers work real nice.

Daughter brought one home this last year.
I was skeptical at first but the thing just flat out works!

Pretty much idiot proof.
Thinking I was their target market... :D

12-29-2012, 05:59 PM

this one works great for me

12-29-2012, 08:00 PM
Rinse rice, then ratio of 1:1.2 rice to water, bring to boil, add lid, leave for 15 mins medium heat, then off the heat for ten. Stir once or twice before the lid goes on then leave alone. Nothing in the water, no salt, no oil, nothing. When cooked turn out onto a board and fan. Cooling the rice helps stop it being sticky. Season with salt and toasted sesame, or vinegar.

Doug Seward
12-31-2012, 07:16 AM
Never having cooked sushi rice, I am hesitant to chime in. However, the chemist in me begs the question: what is the altitude where you cook? Most of Colorado is over 5000 ft (where water boils at about 203F) and much of the state is significantly higher than that. It could be making a difference. -Doug

12-31-2012, 09:01 AM
+1 Factor to consider...


My 2 cents are, master the process before sprinting for the cooker (they are very practical). Learning to cook the rice just right is critical part of the sushi making experience, you'll be glad you did as I did. Ive been making sushi for years and have benefited from this. Not to mention other rice based dishes like paella.

There is a lot of technique involved and every little nuance counts, from the quality of the fish you use, to how you cut your makis, to how you turn the rice, to how you cut your vegetables.

My advice is take your time and understand how everything interacts, your sushi will be better for it!


NO ChoP!
12-31-2012, 03:19 PM
You are simply using too much water. The extra few minutes cooking for the extra water absorption is causing your problem.

Always 1:1
Boil heavy
Simmer 10
Rest 10
Eat immediately, or spread out on a wood board or large bowl to cool.

Seems simple, but in traditional Japanese sushi houses, the new guy may spend weeks only doing rice, and watching....

01-01-2013, 05:05 PM
You are simply using too much water.

Correct. Way too much water. The amount of water is by far the most important thing in making sushi rice. There is no +/- or "about" when doing it properly. I measure water to the gram and write it down every time I make it throughout the day to make sure that I control the amount of moisture, as the humidity and the dryness of the rice makes a huge difference. We generally use about 90% of the volume of the rice in water, so about .9 cups of water per cup of rice. If you are only making a couple cups you can bring it up to 1:1 because you lose a larger percentage of water to evaporation when you make a small amount. If it's new crop rice 1:1 is definitely too much water. Sushi rice is usually made a little harder than regular rice, and the vinegar will add moisture later, so it should be a little firm.

Cooking rice on the stove takes practice. Use the heaviest pot you have. Cover it and put it on high heat until it's boiling and foaming on the edges of the lid. Do not open it or stir it. Turn down to med-low and simmmer until all the water is gone, about 15 min. Leave covered for 15 minutes. Under no circumstances can you take the lid off until the entire process is finished. The steam is indispensable in cooking Japanese rice - once you let it out you cannot get it back, and you will not have enough heat to finish steaming properly.

As soon as you are done, put the rice in the mixing container while it is still hot. Do not use anything that conducts heat quickly or lets the vinegar pool in the middle. I think for home use a glass baking dish would probably be best. Mix in the vinegar and break up the lumps with as little handling of the rice as possible. The more you mix it, the more starch you will release, and the gloppier the finished product will be. I do not recommend fanning sushi rice when you are making it home. Heat control is extremely important, and losing the heat too fast will ruin the rice. Do not spread it out thinner than two inches thick or it will cool too fast. We fan the rice to make it glossy, not necessarily to cool it down, but we make such a large amount that even if we do fan, it it's still hot enough to burn after ten minutes out of the pot. When you make a large amount of rice it stays hot while it absorbs the vinegar, but when you do it at home you risk letting it cool before the vinegar is absorbed, which results in a gloppy mess. That is the main problem with making sushi rice at home - the amount of rice is too small to retain enough heat to cool slowly. After mixing, turn it over and cut it VERY lightly again after about ten minutes - just enough to break up huge chunks. You are better off not cutting it at all than mixing it too much at this point. Let it sit for another ten minutes. At this point it should sill be fairly warm. I shoot for a cooling rate at which I can put my fingers in the middle at this point and not be uncomfortable - 20 minutes after mixing. It should be warmer than your body, but not so hot you have to pull out your fingers. Now put it in an insulated container for at least thirty minutes. Over an hour is best. We shoot for 90 minutes to two hours. At that point it should be just above body temperature. When you put it in the container it will still be difficult to work with because it's still wet and sticky. After it sits, the moisture gets absorbed and it's not sticky on the surface. Good sushi rice easily forms a ball when you squeeze it but doesn't leave a syrupy film on your hand after you touch it. There is no way to rush it.

Practice a couple thousand times and it will be as easy as pie!

01-02-2013, 03:40 PM
Thanks so much for the detailed response, L2T.

Do you rinse your rice? If so, how much?

01-02-2013, 05:17 PM
Yes just wash it a two or three times in cold water. As soon as the rice is submerged the first time move the rice around a little and dump the water immediately. All the stuff you want to get rid of will be absorbed into the rice if you let the first rinse water soak for more than a few seconds. The water should be almost clear after the last time. Agitate it lightly, but dont scrub so hard that you risk breaking the grains. If you are rinsing in a strainer be especially careful because they get stuck halfway in the holes and break in half easily when you push across them.

01-02-2013, 07:52 PM
cool thnx

01-04-2013, 08:08 PM
I was just stopping by to post similar questions!

No gloppiness here, just curious for any and all tips and hints. Thanks!

Now, Rick, what about that su recipe?

01-04-2013, 09:44 PM
3 parts rice wine vinegar
1 part mirin or sake
2 parts sugar
1 part salt

I use roughly a 10 to 1 ratio of rice to su.

01-07-2013, 12:43 PM
Strangely, my mirin is missing so I upped the sugar to three parts and threw in a konbu piece to steep a bit.

I think I may invest in a hinogi hangiri after cursing at my glass casserole again. Hopefully this one is back in stock by the time the next urge strikes: http://www.amazon.com/Kotobuki-Hangiri-Sushi-Mixing-Medium/dp/B00462R93Y

ETA: my first-ever attempt at nigiri was actually quite good. Nothing fancy, just maguro and sake, highlighted by my first use of real wasabi -- there is NO comparison! Next time I'll source already-trimmed fish (not interested in making tartare from the scraps) and make them a bit smaller, but otherwise these were really pretty good.

01-07-2013, 09:31 PM
3 parts rice wine vinegar
1 part mirin or sake
2 parts sugar
1 part salt

I use roughly a 10 to 1 ratio of rice to su.

What are you using for rice wine vinegar & mirin?

The only rice wine vinegar I can find in my Asian markets in Denver is the Marukan stuff, and the only mirin I can find is the Kikkoman & Mitsukan stuff, which is primarily corn syrup. The markets in Denver cater to primarily Vietnamese/South East Asian and Chinese folks; very little "authentic" Japanese ingredients available.

01-08-2013, 12:10 AM
What are you using for rice wine vinegar & mirin?

The only rice wine vinegar I can find in my Asian markets in Denver is the Marukan stuff, and the only mirin I can find is the Kikkoman & Mitsukan stuff, which is primarily corn syrup. The markets in Denver cater to primarily Vietnamese/South East Asian and Chinese folks; very little "authentic" Japanese ingredients available.

Mitsukan or Marukan for rice vinegars are fine; just don't buy the "seasoned" rice vinegar if you're going to use Rick's recipe. As for mirin, look for "hon-mirin." Try looking for Takara - it's generally available in the Western US.

01-08-2013, 12:38 AM
I resorted to getting Takara mirin mail order from Takara. I like having mirin with no salt in it!

07-11-2013, 06:03 PM
Yes just wash it a two or three times in cold water.

necessarily in cold water, it is important?
How about a bit of warm water?


07-11-2013, 08:04 PM
I was taught to always use cold water, so that's what we do for the sushi bar.

07-11-2013, 10:12 PM
http://www.japanesefoodreport.com/2007/10/how-to-cook-rice-or-the-essenc.html This was a good read on the subject.

07-12-2013, 09:42 AM
It's been said before. Electric cooker. But I'm Asian, and it's a rice cooker is a kitchen necessity. The technology and computerized fuzzy logic mumbo jumbo has been tweaked to perfection to produce perfect rice. It's the price of a great knife. Here's mine. It's an induction heating pressure cooker. It also slow cooks and steams and has a few other functions. My favorite is in making a sweet dessert drink called Shik-hae (Korean) which requires heating with malt powder.

I've been using rice cookers for so long that I'd probably ruin my rice if I tried to make it the old fashioned way.


07-12-2013, 05:28 PM
Zojirushi Rice Cooker wins! Can't live without it.

07-12-2013, 07:48 PM
I have a perfectly functional but used small 3-cup Zojirushi NS-LAC05 rice cooker that I'm about to donate to Goodwill, but if someone wants it, I'll give it to them for the cost of shipping :) It's not a pressure cooker, but it's been a reliable friend for a few years.

07-12-2013, 08:52 PM
I have the same model living on my counter (The 8 cup Zo lives in the pantry.) . It's great for a small quantity, 2 - 3 servings. Very generous offer

07-13-2013, 04:28 PM
We only use cold water to wash the rice too.