The most common error someone can make when creating sushi is using the wrong rice. You’d be forgiven for thinking that any rice would do. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
You need to use Japanese rice or uruchimai. Japanese rice is short-grain rice and is used in all Japanese recipes that involve a molding rice component.
So why is this rice so special?
What Is Japanese Rice?
Uruchimai or ordinary rice is the Japanese rice used to create sushi and rice balls. Mochigome is another rice known as Japanese rice, but this one is used to make wagashi sweets.
Uruchimai is starchy and salty, while mochigome is sweet. Mochigome literally means glutinous rice as it is mostly used to make sweets similar to hard candy or cakes.
Both of these Japanese rice types are short-grained and sticky, but one is chewier than the other. If your rice packet says sweet or Mochigome, don’t use it in your sushi. It will make your snack too chewy overall, and you’ll end up with a hard meal.
Why Is Short Grain Japanese Rice Used For Sushi?
Uruchiami Japanese rice is perfect for sushi because it’s both soft and sticky. Because of the sticky texture, some stores call this rice “sticky rice”.
The sticky element comes from the rice grains’ high moisture content. It also has a high starch content. Most rice types are high in starch but not moisture.
You need stickiness to help create the iconic shape of sushi. Using any other rice type will lead to a weak structure. All the rice will fall out of your roll and you’ll end up with a messy lap!
This is also why cooking your sticky rice correctly is imperative to creating the right consistency. Overcook your rice, and it won’t be sticky enough. Undercook it, and your rice will be too hard to enjoy.
The Difference Between Japanese Rice And Sushi Rice
As you might have guessed by now, this rice type goes by many names. They are the same thing. The reason for all this rice confusion comes from the Western attempt to oversimplify everything.
Western markets didn’t want to call this rice “uruchiami”, believing that their target audience wouldn’t understand it. Instead, they labeled it Japanese rice.
From there, different brands tried to market this rice depending on what it can do. “Sticky rice” because it was sticky. “Sushi rice” because you can make sushi with it. The list goes.
But this simplification means your stores are filled with different rice names for the same rice type.
If you didn’t read this article, you might be standing in an aisle, scratching your head thinking “Oh no, they are out of sushi rice. All they have is sticky rice!”
We are here to set the record straight. Sushi rice, sticky rice, and uruchiami are all the same rice types. The difference is sushi rice has been prepared already. It has been flavored with a vinegar seasoning known as sumeshi. Other than that, they are all the same type of Japanese rice.
The one rice type you should watch out for is mochigome Japanese rice. That one will make your meal too hard and chewy.
Sushi Rice Alternatives
If you can’t find the right type of short-grain Japanese rice, then pick brown rice instead. This rice contains fewer calories and takes longer to boil, but its short grain texture can keep its structure for a long time.
It may still fall apart after a while, but if you serve your sushi quickly, this healthy alternative should still do a good job.
How To Make Sushi Rice
To make your own sushi rice, all you need is 1 cup of short-grain uruchimai Japanese rice, 1 cup of water, and a dash of Japanese sushi vinegar.
Before you cook your rice, rinse it with cold water first.
Pop your rice in your rice cooker for the amount of time specified on the packaging.
Once the rice is cooked, add it to a mixing bowl, and turn the rice over with a wooden spoon. Your aim is to let it cool.
Once cooled, pour in your sushi vinegar and mix everything together.
Now you can use the sushi rice to create sushi!
Making sushi is easy. As long as you buy the right rice, and have all of the equipment you need, anyone can make this snack.
The equipment you’ll need includes a rice cooker and a sushi roller. The seaweed wrap will already be pressed for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do not use medium or long-grain rice for your sushi. This includes jasmine and basmati.
Long-grain rice will be hard to manipulate and will fall out of your rolls. You need short-grain rice with a lot of starch to both stay in place and stick to your ingredients.
For this reason, you should stay with Umamicart, Japanese rice, sticky rice, or sushi rice.
If your sushi rice isn’t sticky, it’s because there either wasn’t enough starch to begin with, or the rice is still wet.
A lack of starch normally comes from using the wrong rice type or overwashing the rice. However, if you’ve used the right rice, but the ingredients are still wet, wait until they have dried enough for the starch to become sticky.