The Great Debate: Sushi Rice Versus White Rice

Sushi Rice On A Bamboo Mat

Why you should use sushi rice and where to find it!

Trying to make sushi at home for the first time? Natural questions probably come to mind! Why do I have to use rice that is specifically made for sushi? How is it different than regular white rice? Does it really matter which I use for my sushi recipe? Is cooking sushi rice any different than cooking regular rice? The following article will go into detail on each of these questions.

What is the difference between sushi rice and white rice?

Sushi rice is a variant of short grain rice from Japan. Traditional rice used in western countries is of the long grain variety. Additionally, sushi rice has an increased level of starch and proteins which give it a sticky texture that is ideal for forming sushi rolls.

One of the key reasons that it is important to use sushi rice instead of normal or white rice is that sushi rice needs to be sticky in order for it to hold its shape. Sushi rice can be a sticky mess if you don’t follow the cardinal rules: wash the rice before cooking and wet your hands before handling the cooked sushi rice! In all honesty, making sushi rice is not much different than making normal white rice. If you choose to not use sushi rice, the alternative is to have a lumpy pile of mashed rice if using normal or white rice that will not be able to hold the shape of a roll. Moral of the story: use sushi rice but please wait until it has cooled before you attempt to handle it! Click here for our sushi rice recipe.

Why do I have to use sushi rice to make sushi?

The short answer is that sushi rice is more sticky than normal or white rice which is necessary for the rice to be able to hold its shape, especially when forming a roll. Sushi rice is stickier because it contains more starch and proteins than other varieties of rice which helps form the roll, but can also cause issues if you do not wash the rice.

Fluffy Sushi Rice On A Roll
Fluffy Sushi Rice on a roll

Can I use regular rice to make sushi?

The short answer is yes, although it is not ideal. Quality sushi depends on the properties of the rice such as the flavor and texture which is found in Japanese short grain rice otherwise known as sushi rice. This variety of rice used for sushi takes seasonings like rice vinegar well and doesn’t allow for the vinegar to be overpowering. As far as texture goes, the rice after being steamed is naturally sticky which allows it to be perfect for handling the rice and for forming the rolls.

How and why do I need to wash sushi rice?

Since sushi rice contains a higher volume of starch and proteins versus normal long grain rice, washing the rice helps get rid of the surface starch which removes the gummy texture. Bottom line, washing rice can help each individual grain hold its shape and help it look more like fluffy rice than a clump of mashed potatoes!

Ideal Appearance Of Sushi Rice
Cooked sushi rice

Since sushi rice is steamed, no stirring is required. If you stir the rice while cooking and you do not wash the rice beforehand, the rice gets a gummy, clumpy texture making it hard to handle.

The easiest way to wash sushi rice is to put it in a strainer and rinse it under cool water. Once the rice is rinsed, let it sit for a minute in the sink to allow the water to drain.

Rinsing Sushi Rice
Rinsing rice under cool water

Where can I buy sushi rice?

Sushi rice can be found at just about any major grocery store chain or retailer such as Kroger, Whole Foods, or Costco. Sushi rice can even be found on Amazon Prime by following this link. It is typically inexpensive and in the rice section. The instructions on how to make the rice is on the bag and each bag has enough rice to make several large sushi meals!

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