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I love making sushi at home - it is a satisfying and delicious experience that is very quick and easy (and I can use whatever food is leftover in the house).

However, I'm limited by the type of rice I have been using, and most of the sources I've found are confusing about details and brands. I have been using Botan Calrose Rice, and I've used the Whole Foods brand sushi rice, but neither is particularly good.

So, what are the specific considerations for good sushi rice? Obviously it should be a white, short-grained rice, but what else should I look for? Is it worth it to order rice online when you live in a place that only sells the Botan rice?

Edit: The method for making the rice is either by boiling in a pot with a tight lid or using a rice cooker - both seem to produce very similar results for me. I am looking for a rice with more consistent texture and with a stronger, less chalky flavor.

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Nearly any rice will do. What is your technique for preparing the rice? –  TFD Mar 1 '12 at 2:04
This seems like an opinion question. I have my favorite brand of sushi rice, but I can't defend it empirically. It might be more helpful for you to list exactly the things you find unsatisfactory about Botan and Whole Foods rice, and try to find out how to resolve those. –  FuzzyChef Mar 1 '12 at 4:05
Question edited to match your comments. I suppose it's opinion in the sense that one could use any sort of rice in any fashion (brown rice, fried?), but that wouldn't be good "sushi" rice. I think a set of characteristics of quality sushi rice could be roughly agreed upon. –  Greg.Ley Mar 1 '12 at 7:59
Do you rinse rice very well before cooking, that may account for "chalky" stuff. You don't have an absolute question here! –  TFD Mar 1 '12 at 8:28
I'm not sure how to be more absolute in the question. I want to know what makes good (tasty, enjoyable, effective, correct, etc) sushi rice, and where that rice can be acquired. It's not a question of methods, it's one of quality, type, and observable characteristics. Can you explain why my question is unanswerable? –  Greg.Ley Mar 1 '12 at 9:08

3 Answers 3

According to Seductions of Rice (which also has the best written instructions for making sushi rice I've seen), any Japanese-style rice will work fine for sushi rice. They further define Japanese Rice as Japonica short rice which has a length:width ratio of 2.5:1. The grains should look translucent and rounded, sometimes with a small white spot at one end.

For example, I personally use "Akita Komachi" organic rice. This is also a "half-brown" rice, which gives it more vitamin content than pure white rice, as well as a nice nutty flavor.

According to them, Japanese rice is frequently covered in talc or powdered starch to keep it dry, which is why rinsing it prior to cooking is essential.

I'm not going to go through their entire instructions for preparing sushi rice -- you can borrow the book from your local library for that -- but I will go over the essentials to make sure you're not missing major steps:

  1. Rinse the rice
  2. Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes
  3. Cook the rice
  4. Mix the rice with vinegar, sugar and salt
  5. Spread the rice out in a wide pan to cool
  6. Make sushi within 3 hours.
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"Obviously it should be a white, short-grained rice" This is your problem, you should be using medium grain not short grain, short grain is pudding rice and will loe pretty much all its structure when cooked.

As for brands there are things like Yutaka though they're pretty expensive as their aimed at the western speciality market rather than the regular Japanese one. If you want to find it at a good price you're best off looking online at the brands the Japanese supermarkets sell, though you'll probably have to buy a large bag (5kg+).

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It's how you wash the rice and how you prepare it. You can use short, long or medium sized grains but I prefer the short grain just because every short grain rice seems to spread out more nice and evenly. When you wash your rice, it's very important you remove all the white cloudy water. When those white cloudy water gets cooked, it makes the rice more sticky, which gives the rice a mushy like texture/appearance. When you wash your rice, make sure you let it sit for at least 30 minutes or longer. This will make the rice tender. After a nice 30 minute stand by, you should give the rice a wash once or twice more. This will let any left over cloudy water that has sat down spread out evenly so you don't get the bottom part of the rice all sticky have the top cooked all nicely. What some people do is they wash the rice on the rice cooker pot and let the silt calm down and cook the rice and only use the top portions of the rice that has been cooked. But like I said before, all rice is pretty much same. Some may look more shiny and such but in the end, they pretty much taste the same as long as you prepare it will.

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