The Basics of Sushi Rice

Kihon no Sumeshi

  • By
    Yuke Miura
  • Time
    5 minutes
The Basics of Sushi Rice

When people are asked about Japanese food, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is sushi. Making delicious vinegared rice is as important as fresh fish when making sushi! It should not be too sour or sweet; the perfect taste is a delicate harmony. By mastering vinegared rice like a sushi chef, the restaurant-like taste of sushi becomes possible from the comfort of your own home. Many would agree that to make delicious nigiri sushi, the tastier the vinegared rice is, the better the sushi is. Conversely, if the rice is badly prepared, the resulting taste will be ruined, even if you use the freshest and highest-class fish. The purpose of the following recipe is to eliminate all doubt when it comes to making perfect sushi rice, where a practiced sushi chef will impart his proven techniques and secrets.


The Origin & History of Sushi

The origin of sushi can be traced back to “nare zushi” in southeast Asia. At the time, the people who lived in the mountainous areas made “nare zushi” by fermenting fish, which was hard to come by, with rice and salt as a way to preserve it. They did not use vinegar, and they did not eat the rice either because it was used purely for fermenting. As time passed, the fermentation process was shortened, and rice became part of the local diet starting from around the Muromachi period (1336-1573). It is at this time that we see the present form of sushi taking shape. There are various kinds of sushi, including nigiri sushi, box sushi with fish fillets and boiled vegetables; maki sushi, which is wrapped in seaweed and eaten in round slices; and inari sushi, which is stuffed with vinegared rice in square-shaped fried tofu. Chirashi-zushi has ingredients mixed into vinegared rice rather than being rolled like a maki-zushi, which keeps its shape for ease of eating. It has become a traditional dish nowadays for celebrations such as the Hina Doll Festival.


Sushi in Japan in Modern Times

It is not a misconception that sushi used to be a luxury dish, but it has become a much more commonly eaten meal in recent times. One reason for the greater accessibility of sushi is the advent of the conveyor belt sushi restaurant, which keeps costs lower and is able to pass this benefit on to the customer. Sushi on a plate served on a conveyor belt was a breakthrough innovation that became popular instantly, quickly spreading throughout Japan. For family outings, conveyor belt sushi answers a demand that traditional sushi restaurants do not. There are many chain store conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Japan, and some of them are expanding their stores overseas as well. Watching the sushi travel on the conveyor belt, and being able to pick and choose the sushi you want as you please is an enjoyable experience for everybody, from children to the elderly. Piled up sushi plates has become a heart-warming symbol of a Japanese family restaurant.

Vinegared rice, essential for the perfect sushi experience, can be mastered by anyone by following the golden ratio introduced in the recipe below!

Nutrition per Serving
  • Calories
  • Sodium
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Carbs
  • Fiber
  • Cholesterol


  • 5.3  oz Hard-cooked rice
    • A
    • 0.7  fl-oz Rice vinegar
    • tsp Sugar
    • tsp Salt


Step 1

Mix together ingredients (A)
The sugar will dissolve with the heat of the rice, so it is fine if it does not dissolve completely in this first step.

The Basics of Sushi Rice

Step 2

Transfer steamed rice (aldente) to a sushi tub, a large plate or oven sheet.
Pour the sushi vinegar over the rice. Mix the rice as if you were cutting it to avoid crushing the individual rice grains.

The Basics of Sushi Rice

Step 3

Mix while fanning the rice. Let cool so that it is slightly warm to the touch.


  • If you mix the rice and vinigar mixture in a bowl, water will collect at the bottom, which is not ideal. Instead, mix in a container with a flat bottom.
  • Mix in a cutting motion to prevent the ricemixture from becoming sticky. If you mix it like kneading dough, the rice will stick together.
  • Fanning the rice while stirring allows the right amount of moisture to be released to avoid the rice from sticking.
  • If you don't have a fan, use a thin cutting board or plastic sheet to fan the air.
Culinary Expert

Yuke divides his professional time between TV program food coordination, supervising cooking videos, devising company recipes, developing restaurant menus, writing columns, participating in cooking classes and food events. He is known for his ability to pair foods well with alcoholic beverages, Yuke also focuses on recipes using niche ingredients and homemade seasonings. In his mind, cooking is a medium of expression, and that it is a form of entertainment that provides excitement and happiness.