Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

Tag Archives: sushi

Sushi requires a special kind of rice

At the heart of sushi is the rice – not raw fish as some people mistakenly believe (see my related post here). In a nutshell, medium-grained rice is cooked and, while hot, mixed with a vinegar/sugar/salt mixture. After cooling, the sushi rice is used to make the sushi.

Some unscrupulous companies have perpetuated the myth that you need a special kind of rice to make sushi, and I have seen small bags of “sushi rice” for sale at outrageous prices. Fact is, the rice use for sushi is the same medium grained rice used for many other purposes in Japanese cuisine. You do not need to pay extra for “sushi” rice. Our favorite is Kokuho Rose brand, closely followed by Nishiki. These are California-grown and are every bit as good as the much more expensive Japanese imports. They are widely available, you can even get the Nishiki through Walmart! So, don’t waste your money on overpriced rice!

On a related note, short-grained rice is not used for sushi–it’s actually medium grained that is used. Many people call it short as it is indeed shorter than many other rices, such as jasmine and basmatti. Real short grained rice is shorter still with grains that are almost round. Short grained rice is sold as sweet or sticky rice.



Sushi means raw fish

Many people think that “sushi” is synonymous with raw fish. Not so – the term actually refers to the vinegared rice. This is made by dissolving sugar and maybe a touch of salt in rice vinegar and tossing with the hot, just-cooked rice. Sushi therefore refers to vinegared rice served with other ingredients which may or may not include fish (which in turn may be raw or cooked). The vinegared rice itself is referred to as shari. Raw fish served by itself without the rice is called sashimi.

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