Cooking the Perfect Sushi Rice: Should You Wash It? 

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Woman's hand mixing the sushi rice with a text "COOKING THE PERFECT SUSHI RICE"

The first step in making excellent sushi is cooking the sushi rice perfectly. However, many people frequently have questions about sushi rice, especially regarding whether it should be washed before cooking or not.

You should always wash and rinse your sushi rice at least two to three times before cooking. Sushi rice contains a lot of starch on its surface, so washing the grains helps remove it. Hence, this step ensures that your cooked sushi rice doesn’t end up being too mushy or chewy.

Should You Wash Sushi Rice?

Sushi rice in a blue bowl.

When I first made sushi at home, I was clueless about the process. 

Naturally, I made many mistakes, one of which was forgetting to wash the sushi rice before cooking! 

Let’s just say I learned a lesson that day and got to know the two main reasons why you should always rinse sushi rice before cooking it.

Reason 1: Remove Excess Starch

Sushi rice is a short-grain rice variety known for its high starch content, containing about 80% amylopectin. This starch component is responsible for giving the rice its unique stickiness.

However, excess starch can make your sushi rice overly sticky, resulting in a chewy and mushy consistency. It may even ruin the rice’s flavor by making it taste bland and gummy.

Once you rinse your sushi rice a few times, the excess starch on the surface is washed away. This process helps achieve the slightly chewy texture required for sushi rice!

Reason 2: Get Rid of Impurities and Dirt 

I’ve observed that even tightly packed sushi rice contains dirt and impurities. 

Therefore, regardless of the type of rice you use, it’s important to rinse it thoroughly before cooking to eliminate any unwanted substances.

How to Wash and Cook Sushi Rice on Stove?

A pack of sushi rice and raw sushi rice in a bowl.

If you are wondering how you should wash or cook sushi rice on a stove, then follow the steps mentioned below.

1. In a bowl, add one cup of sushi rice

2. Add some water to the bowl and rinse the rice thoroughly at least three to four times. The water will turn milky due to the presence of excessive starch. 

Sushi rice rinse with water in a bowl.

3. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear or transparent. 

Sushi rice with clear water in a bowl.

4. Next, drain the sushi rice using a sieve. 

Sushi rice drained in a sieve.

5. Transfer the rinsed rice to a heavy-bottomed pot. This ensures that the rice cooks evenly, and doesn’t stick to the surface.

6. Follow the 1:1 water-to-rice ratio for sushi rice, adding about one cup of water per cup of sushi rice into the cooking pot.

Sushi rice in a cooking pot.

7. Tightly cover the cooking pot with a lid and cook the rice over medium-high heat.

8. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 25 minutes

Cooking sushi rice in a cooking pot covered with a lid.

9. Open the lid after 25 minutes, and check if the rice is done. It should have a slightly sticky texture, with each grain retaining its shape.

Cooked sushi rice.

10. If the sushi rice tastes too chewy or hard, add three to four tablespoons of water and cook it over low heat for an additional five minutes

11. Once done, transfer the sushi rice to a bowl. 

12. You can season your sushi rice with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt!

How to Wash and Cook Sushi Rice in a Rice Cooker?

Woman's hand scooping rice in the rice cooker.

Japanese people always cook their sushi rice in a rice cooker. If you have one, then you can also do the same by following these steps:

1. Rinse the sushi rice under cold water two to three times, or until the water runs clear to remove excess starch.

2. Add one cup of washed sushi rice and one cup of water to the rice cooker. 

3. Cook the rice as per your rice cooker’s instructions and settings.

4. Once the rice has cooked, let it rest in the rice cooker for about 5 to 10 minutes. Your sushi rice is ready to serve!

What Should I Do If I Didn’t Wash Sushi Rice Before Cooking?

Sushi rice in a wooden bowl with wooden spoon.

When in a hurry, you might forget to wash the sushi rice beforehand and end up with sticky and clumpy grains. 

In such a situation, here are some tricks that have helped me in the past.

Method 1: Rinse Under Cold Water

If your sushi rice feels too mushy and sticky, transfer it to a fine mesh strainer. 

Then, rinse the cooked rice with some cold water until the grains separate a bit. Allow the rice to dry and you’ll achieve the required slightly sticky texture.

Method 2: Dry It Out!

In this method, all you need to do is spread the cooked sushi rice out on a huge flat surface, such as a baking sheet or large plate. 

Sushi rice in a foil.

This will allow the grains to cool and dry slightly, which can reduce stickiness and improve texture.

Method 3: Repurpose Your Sushi Rice

Onigiri, Japanese food, Japanese rice triangle in a platter.

If your sushi rice has become too mushy to the extent that none of the above solutions work, then try repurposing it. 

Instead of using rice to make sushi, you can make rice pudding, rice cakes (onigir), or even Chinese fried rice out of it. 

Final Thoughts

Making the perfect sushi rice is all about getting its consistency right, which is only possible if you wash it before cooking. So, give the grains a few good rinses, and notice how big of a difference it can make!

Saniya Baxi Avatar


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