I've heard a couple of suggestions for cooling the rice prior to making rolls and both seem to contradict each other. What works for you guys (and gals)?

What I do is just remove the liner from the steamer, add rice vinegar solution and fold the rice while fanning it for a few minutes, then just leave it alone for 30 minutes with a towel over the container to prevent drying. Seems to work for me, but I don't like waiting that long to start making the rolls.

  • You're adding some vinegar to your rice when you cool it, right? That's important to keep the growth of Bacillus cereus in check.
    – Pointy
    Jul 21, 2010 at 14:05
  • 4
    Bacillus cereus is a concern with rice that is held in the danger zone for extended periods of time, however 30 minutes isn't long enough to cause major concern. The sushi itself would either then be consumed right away or refrigerated if being prepared in advance. Jul 21, 2010 at 14:40
  • 1
    Yes, I add my rice vinegar solution at the exact moment the steamer is opened, folding the rice to both help cool and get the vinegar solution mixed in. I'll update the question to reflect.
    – Kilhoffer
    Jul 21, 2010 at 14:49
  • @Pointy: Interesting. I thought vinegar was needed to improve the flocculation of starch. Sep 7, 2010 at 22:02

4 Answers 4


It looks like your process is the accepted one around the web.

If you put a cool, damp (not wet), clean kitchen towel on your counter and fold the rice on top of it in front of a fan may help to cool it more quickly. Otherwise, cooling it to room temperature just seems to take a bit of time.


If you're impatient, you can plop it in front of a fan ad continue folding until it is cool enough to handle. It shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of your batch.

Make sure to lift the rice when folding to expose plenty of the rice to the moving air.


The instructions I use are out of my Sushi book...

The big difference from the other answers and what I do seems to be the container used.

  • Place the hot rice in a wooden rice tub or a large, nonmetallic, flat-bottomed bowl. I actually use a 13x9 glass casserole pan. This is key - have it in something wide and shallow.
  • Use a flat wooden paddle to stir the rice, slicing it across the bowl rather than normal stirring.
  • Make some space in the center of the rice and slowly add the vinegar dressing.
  • Continue lifting and mixing the rice with the paddle, using a slicing motion.
  • Use either an electric or hand-held fan while you're doing this.
  • Put rice into a rice holder that has a lid and will keep it warm.
  • Spread a piece of damp cheesecloth over the top, and put the lid on.

I like to use a large non-metallic board (preferably unfinished wood), I spread the rice across the board so the rice is less than 2cm high.

I then add my seasoned vinegar and fold the rice over until it is well mixed.

I make sure the spread it out again and will then either let it cool alone or fan it, depending what I'm using it for.

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